Secrets Entrepreneurs
Everyone starts a new business in order to make it successful. That’s a given. And many would-be entrepreneurs spend hours laboring over a number of details, from learning the characteristics of the marketplace to developing products and services to determining financial projections. It’s a grind, but it’s well worth it since the overriding objective is to have your own enterprise that’s sustainable over the long term.

One of the most important documents you’ll have and to which you’ll refer to often is your marketing plan. This is the road map that will strategically assess a variety of key marketplace factors while also helping you plan your entrepreneurial journey.

Different people take a variety of approaches when considering their marketing activities from a thousand-foot view. There are many things you’ll need to think about, ponder and decide on as you build your company. Many experts agree that the following five secrets are key to developing a truly effective plan.

Develop a comprehensive SWOT analysis:

Let’s face it, information and knowledge are among the most valuable assets any business owner can have, so assessing your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats is a really strong and important foundation on which to build your marketing plan. It’s also good to discuss these items in a team setting with your employees so everyone is on the same page.

Mostly, though, it just makes good sense to know what factors can potentially affect your business activities, from having direct competitors who actively communicate their benefits on an ongoing basis to your own opportunities, both existing and those you can create. A good SWOT analysis will help you understand many of the things you need to know about running your business.

Determine your competitive advantage and articulate your value proposition:

This step is equally important because it will help you figure out why your potential customers will elect to do business with you instead of the company similar to yours that’s down the street, across town or, in the case of e-business, online.

“Determining your value proposition is probably the step you should invest most time and resources into, as it is one of the most important conversion factors and what could make the difference between closing a sale and losing it,” writes Brandwatch’s Ruxana Mindruta, who advises business owners to “get started by identifying the main customer benefits and what value your products/services bring to the customer, followed by outlining the key differentiators.”

State your marketing goals:

A good marketing plan will include goals and objectives to which your company will strive. In many cases, these are developed and implemented with weekly, monthly or quarterly indicators assigned. As an executive growing market share at a major energy drink brand, George Scorsis said he did this for more than 15 years because it helped him to define where the company was at any given moment and where it was going to go next and in the months ahead. KPI’s are critical to understanding whether your initiatives are working and what the outcomes are.

Today, as executive chairman at WeedMD, an Ontario-based production and distribution company for medical and adult recreational cannabis, George Scorsis continues to develop and follow marketing goals, which he says are helping him grow his company’s market share through the creation of initiatives that are compliant while also resonating with the consumer, even as other companies in his industry are experiencing slow periods.

Define the roles digital technology and communications platforms will play in your plan:

Everyone leverages the incredible power of technology in their marketing strategies, right? Not necessarily According to a study by Smart Insights published as recently as last year, 46% of brands don’t have a defined digital marketing strategy yet, and while 16% do have a strategy, they haven’t launched it yet.

“That means that more than half of the businesses out there aren’t getting the exposure and customers they could be, simply because people don’t even know they exist yet,” writes Jonathan Chan at Foundr Magazine. “When you don’t have a marketing strategy, you run the risk of becoming directionless as a company, wasting money on channels that aren’t bringing you results, and losing out on potential customers to your competitors.”

Develop and include customer profiles.

For years, business professors and marketing authors alike have been preaching the necessity of knowing who your customers are. In today’s world, there’s a lot of data mining going on that tells you everything (and possible more than) you want to know about your ideal customers. Use this information in your marketing plan, says George Scorsis, who believes that the more you know about your customer segments, and behavior, the more effectively you can market to them.