Marketing Plan

Creating a marketing plan for your business is crucial. Without one, it would be difficult for a business to generate revenue and successfully make a profit. It’s essential you devise a plan that will clearly define the value of your products or services, with the end result benefiting your customers.

Gathering What Counts

There are four major areas that you must have information about before creating a marketing plan: business resume`, target market, product message, and ‘how-to’ get the message to prospective customers (advertising).

Business Resume: Clarity is the objective of a business resume`. Within the text, list the strengths of your product or service. Think of it as molding your knowledge. After all, would you write a marketing plan about something you know nothing about?

Target Market: Five simple questions will assist you in identifying your target market. Who are they? What is their age? What is the average income? What is their status? Do they have children? It’s important that you evaluate your target market to determine ‘what’ product or service would sell the best.

Product Message: A product message is a ‘direct call to action.’ This message must create value in the minds of everyone, that hears it, and for every feature, you offer a direct benefit to the customer must be demonstrated.

Advertising: Advertising is an appealing and compelling invitation to buy your product or service. It is an investment that should never be an expense. Finding the right advertisement takes trial and error, what marketers` refer to as “test” advertising. First time out of the box and you can’t expect immediate results.

Every business needs an outline of how they plan to approach the market. Make certain that you address the following questions in the process.

1. What medium is the most popular among your target market? (TV or Radio)

2. What is the percentage of participants in watching or listening to these mediums?

3. Do they read the local paper or magazine?

4. Should you consider direct mail?

Think of writing a marketing plan as breaking down the important elements and charting a path to success. These strategies will be of great assistance when faced with possibility of failure. Business owners need to step into the world of marketing with confidence and knowing where to begin writing your marketing plan is a start.

Education vs Sales-Based Marketing

The marketing paradigm that can literally make or break your coaching business…

What’s the single most important process determining whether or not your coaching business is successful?

The correct answer to this question can completely change your coaching business forever. It can change your perception of your business. It can change your focus in your business. It can change how you go about operating your business. And most importantly, it can determine the success or otherwise of your business.

We asked dozens of coaches this question and got a broad array of responses. But only 4% of them were even close to the mark! Most coaches answered: quality service; number of clients; pricing; branding; advertising copy.

…And whilst all these issues are critical, the single most important process is your marketing methodology. Whilst you must have all the other elements as well, it’s your marketing methodology that ultimately determines the success or otherwise of your business.

Let us explain…

Nearly all coaches use a marketing methodology that’s a sales-based marketing methodology. This is understandable as most traditional marketing methods teach sales-based marketing methods. We’re all impacted by sales-based marketing at every turn – on TV, newspapers, magazines, billboards, radio – everywhere. And when coaches research marketing methods, they are most likely to learn about traditional sales-based marketing methodologies – print ads (in newspapers, yellow pages, journals, magazines etc), direct telephone calls, radio, flyers, direct mail letters, etc.

But there are several extremely powerful forces at play against coaches employing a sales-based marketing methodology…

Most coaches invariably feel uncomfortable delivering a ‘sales pitch.’ Coaches generally have better technical skills than marketing skills. They’re therefore uncomfortable talking about themselves and endorsing the quality of their product. This means they don’t close, and comes across to prospects as a general lack of confidence in themselves, and their product and service.

Sales marketing is extremely expensive – narrowing your net margin on your service. The more you spend to get a client the less net profit you’ll retain at the end.

Generally people are very skeptical and defensive against sales approaches. This exponentially increases the barrier of making a sale. When you employ a sales-based marketing method, most prospects have already closed themselves off to learning about your services due to their natural tendency to put up a defence against sales-based marketing.

There is no trust and rapport built through a sales-based marketing approach. For a prospect to buy from you, there needs to be an element of trust. Your prospect needs to trust that you can deliver on your promises and that they’ll gain a positive return on their investment. This level of trust is extremely difficult to build through a sales-based marketing approach.

You build no reciprocal obligation on the prospect to investigate your offer or purchase from you. It’s a natural human tendency to reciprocate in kind what’s been given to you. You can not build reciprocal obligation through sales-based marketing.

You attract price sensitive shoppers and ‘tyre kickers’ that take up a lot of your time and result in extremely low conversion.

It’s difficult to maintain contact with prospects for long enough to build rapport and trust – it generally takes 4 to 6 contacts before a prospect will buy from you.

So, we can hear you shouting “If sales-based marketing is not going to be effective, what’s my alternative to get clients?”

And the answer is… Education-based Marketing. Education-based marketing is simply the process by which you attract and convert highly-qualified clients by giving them what they want – valuable information and advice that solves their problems – and removing what they don’t want, a sales pitch.

Education-based marketing is generally undertaken by delivering Credibility Marketing techniques such as public speaking, information based teleclasses, publications, networking, hotlines, free educational give aways (such as reports, assessments, tools, ecourses), etc.

As opposed to sales-based marketing, education-based marketing means…

- You give your prospect what they really want – highly valuable information. And you take away what they don’t want – a sales pitch.

- You maintain your dignity and feel good about yourself as you never make an effort to sell.

- Your brand recognition and respect will skyrocket! Education-based marketing is the ultimate brand builder. By positioning yourself as the ‘expert’ or ‘specialist’ by solving, through your education products, the most pressing issues your niche confronts. You become the only logical choice in your market.

- You can establish yourself as a credible authority as prospects depend on you as a reliable source of valuable advice.

- You significantly reduce your marketing costs – and can in fact get paid to market yourself. This vastly compounds the net worth of every client you attract – you can actually earn double the net profit with only half the clients!

- You don’t have to seek out new prospects – prospects come to you (to have their problems solved).

- You can maintain (mutually beneficial) contact with your prospects through the sales process because they don’t feel pressured by a sales pitch and value your information and advice.

- You reach prospects early during the first stages of their decision making process.

- You attract ‘moderately interested’ prospects that may otherwise be afraid to call you but are not afraid to request your information.

- Due to the high level of trust and rapport built early on you’ll be perceived as an adviser, not a salesperson, making added-value sales dramatically easier.

- You dramatically increase your referrals from prospects as they feel loyal to you – due to a relationship built on trust and reciprocal obligation and your efforts to help them – even if they don’t hire you! And your referrals will come much earlier in your relationship.

- You gain compounded advantage as your information is passed freely between prospects within your niche.

- You gain a competitive advantage because not many competitors are using education-based marketing.

- You achieve a highly leveraged advantage as you can put forward your marketing even when you are not present.

- You save valuable time as you often are delivering your message directly to your most highly qualified target audience.

As you can see, education-based marketing is the exact opposite to sales-based marketing, and can make an extraordinary difference to your business, and your enjoyment of ‘doing’ business. So, ask yourself, “How much education-based marketing am I currently doing?” and “How can I develop a marketing plan significantly comprised of education-based marketing methodologies?”

Why Internet Marketing Sucks

Do you think you know who your biggest, baddest and most sinister competitor is online?

Believe it or not, it’s not other marketers.

It’s not spam filters either.

Nor is it the bad customers, sleazy business partners or time-suckers who try their hardest to control your life.

No, your biggest competitor is much worse — much more dangerous and powerful — than all those combined.

In fact, all the above put together is like a kiss from your grandma compared to the sheer power and ruthlessness of the real competitor we all face when we do business online today.

Who is this vicious Internet “nemesis”?

The answer is simple:

It’s the endless amount of government red tape and bureaucratic meddling — all the way from your local city ordinances to international law.

It’s true.

The more government sticks its fingers in the pie…the more out of control the laws will get, the harder it will be for the smaller businesses to make money, and the more dangerous it will be to even try.

If you don’t think it can happen to the Internet, think again. It’s already happening. It’s happened to every cheap media ever invented. From infomercials…to 900 numbers…to broadcast FAX…and now — after the draconian “do not call” list here in the U.S. — even the telephone.

It’s only a matter of time before some major roadblocks are thrown up for Internet marketers. Roadblocks that are going to put a serious damper on your ability to milk money from the Web.

Which is why I really believe people should work hard at mastering direct response marketing and copywriting first, and the Internet-specific stuff second. Just ask yourself, “what exactly would I do…how would my business survive…if the Internet was taken away from me tomorrow?” If you can’t answer that question, then you need to study less Internet-specific tactics and more direct response marketing and copywriting tactics. Because if you have your head on straight about how direct response marketing works, then it won’t matter what media you use.

Now don’t get me wrong.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t use the Internet to make a ton of money.

And I’m not saying people shouldn’t keep up on the Internet tactics at the same time.

That’d be foolish.

Just don’t rely on it exclusively.

Recognize the Web for what it is: just one of many tools to sell and build a list of customers with.

In that respect, it’s no different than running a small classified ad or dropping a letter in the mail.

Sure, it’s extremely fast and cheap. Sure you can literally make money online in less than five minutes if you know what you’re doing. And sure you can instantly access tens of millions of people…for mere pocket change…you might never have been able to access before.

But to rely on the Internet exclusively could be very dangerous to you, your business and your income. Just ask all the people who were making millions of dollars per year using nothing but broadcast FAX or telemarketing. One day they were raking the money in hand over fist. The next they were out of business, living with their parents and parking cars for a living.

Researching And Establishing The Market For Your Crafts

So, you want to sell your handmade crafts?
Begin with thorough market research to establish the craft industry related info you’ll need to know to get going.

Your market research is going to be about finding out:

who buys products similar to yours (your customers);

who makes products similar to yours (your competitors);

what particular styles and types are popular (trends); and

an idea of what the market related prices are.

The internet is going to become one of your best friends during this exercise – it’s like a giant library with virtually unlimited access to all the information you need!

Who Buys Products Similar To Yours?

According to The Greeting Card Assocation, Americans alone “purchase nearly 7 billion greeting cards every year”! “Cards range in price from 38 cents to $10, with the average card retailing for $2 – $4. Cards featuring special techniques and intricate designs are at the top of this price scale.”

If you’re selling handmade greeting cards or a craft which is popularly bought as gifts, you’re basically entering the stationery and gifting market, so a better question here would probably be: who doesn’t buy products similar to yours?! Do you know anybody who never buys cards or gifts for friends and family at various special occasions during the year? The GCA’s research indicates that “the average person receives more than 20 cards per year, about one-third of which are birthday cards.”

“The most popular card-sending holiday is Christmas, which accounts for more than 60 percent of all individual seasonal cards sold. The next most popular holidays in order are Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter and Father’s Day. The most popular recipients of seasonal cards are parents, who receive about one out of every five seasonal cards.”

“The most popular everyday card is the birthday card, which accounts for 60 percent of all individual everyday cards sold. The next most popular everyday cards in order are anniversary, get well, friendship and sympathy.

The most popular recipients of everyday cards are friends, who receive about one out of every three everyday cards.”

Although the above info is about greeting cards, remember that gifts usually go along with cards…!

What we’re talking about here is the consumer – people like you and I who purchase these and other types of goods from (mainly) retailers. So what really needs to be established is how to get your crafts into their stores!

You can sell either to wholesalers or agents who then sell on to retailers, or you can sell to the retailers direct, or both. This is determined either by your particular choice and/or how good your sales and marketing is – for example, you might choose to sell to retailers directly, but if your sales and marketing is not done properly you might not get your foot in the door, so the next best option would be to work through wholesalers and/or agents who are already established as suppliers to some of the major retailers, and they can market your products for you.

Selling to retailers is clearly the best route, because you cut out the “middle man” and you therefore make more profit on your products (a step up from this would be to sell your own products in your own retail store!). When you sell to a wholesaler, your price will have to be lower than that which you sell to a retailer at, so that your cards can maintain a market related retail price. When you’re working through an agent, some will work similarly to wholesalers and buy your products direct from you at a set price, others will market your products at your price, but will take a commission from the value of the orders they get.

Your research is going to involve finding all these people and compiling your first Contact List for when you’re ready to get stuck into your sales and marketing. Yet another aspect to consider at this point is: local, national or international?

I personally recommend starting with your smaller local market. As the saying goes, you have to learn to ‘walk before you can run’. Starting small has a number of benefits, especially if you are new to becoming a business owner and inexperienced in all the aspects that are involved in it.

The experience you gain by starting small will be invaluable when your business does grow to the national and possibly international markets. You’ll gain a better understanding of all the processes of your business by working hands-on, and you’ll also build a lot of confidence, especially in areas in which you don’t feel yourself to be particularly strong at this point in time. To use another cliche: ‘practice makes perfect’!

Who Makes Products Similar To Yours?

The answer is: a lot of people! But don’t let that thought daunt you – remember there’s a huge market out there and it is possible for you to get a share of it!

Think of just about any product or service available, then have a look in your local Yellow Pages and see how many people or companies offer the same thing. However, they don’t all do it in exactly the same way, and that’s what sets them apart from each other and, in most cases, that’s what also determines the level of their success.

What you really want to establish in this part of your research is:

Who your competitors are.
They will probably be a combination of small and medium businesses and larger organizations. You want to concentrate on the smaller guys, to see:

What they’re doing, and how they’re doing it.
Have a look at their products, their marketing, and their prices, and try to establish how successful they are with their concepts – this is also done by finding out who they supply.

If the small guys have their crafts in the big stores, it’s great news for you! And therefore especially important for you to pay attention to their styles and methods.

You may not always be able to find out who they supply, but most small companies are very proud of their accomplishments and will probably mention a client list somewhere as a point of reference.

Some of these companies might also be or act as wholesalers or agents, so instead of being your competition, they might have the potential of becoming your customers.

When you’re out shopping, go past the greeting aisles where items similar to yours are stocked and have a look at what’s on offer – turn the products over and see if there are any website addresses or other contact details for you to get more information from, then look them up. Keep your eyes open for what’s in the stores at all times.

At every opportunity, let people know what business you’re in – you never know what information you may come across, or what opportunities may become available to you.

What Particular Styles And Types Are Popular?

Trends obviously change all the time, so this is something that you’ll have to research on an ongoing basis – what’s hot, hip and happening!

Retail stores are a good place to assess this – they usually pay exorbitant amounts of money to research and get information on the next season’s colors, designs and styles, so just follow the trends.

Of course, once you’re established as a retail supplier you’ll also be privy to this information, because the buyers will give you briefs of what they want you to produce to fit in with their next season.

For now, however, you need to see what’s selling so that you can create your products to fit in with that – it may be along the lines of ethnic, floral, marine, natural, or any of a number of other themes, styles or color combinations.

Another good source for this type of information is your own suppliers. Most of the major craft product suppliers also follow the trends and come up with new products to fit in with the seasonal styles, so check out the websites of some international suppliers too.

This probably all sounds a lot easier than it actually is, because once you start looking around you’ll see lots of different styles, and it might be difficult to pinpoint the few which are actually the determining factors.

I’ve found that apart from the above, one of the best places to look is the top retail clothing stores, and those selling soft furnishings and home decor. Walk through your local mall, and look at each of these stores from the outside – you will see a dominant theme prevailing.

But this won’t necessarily give you all the info you need, because these are for the current season only, and most stores (excluding some of the smaller, owner-run ones) have already planned their purchases for that season and budgeted for them, which leaves no room for you.

To get ahead, you need to know what the styles are going to be for the next season, so that you can submit your designs in time to be included in the buyers’ budgets. Your local fashion and home d├ęcor magazines are the answer. They’ve always got the styles for winter, before winter, and so on.

While you’re doing your research, try to uncover a need in the market for a product that sells well but is not offered by many manufacturers or suppliers, possibly because it’s too labor intensive for some of the bigger companies to produce, which could be an advantage for you.

For starters, I’d recommend going with what’s currently popular, because your suppliers are geared for that (going with something different can become expensive to make if nobody else is doing it) but always be on the lookout for new opportunities for product development.