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Three Questions to Begin Your Marketing Plan

How do you find more clients and customers? Every business has a story to tell and a message to share. Discovering this core message and then spreading it to your ideal customer base is the best way to build your business. In a world where you now need to blend traditional communication wisdom with new technology, marketing can seem complex and overwhelming. Here are three questions to help you begin crafting a marketing plan for your small business.

It is important to not only have a solid idea of what you want to convey, but you need a spark within this message that shows you are different from others within the same category. Therefore the first marketing plan question is: What is my UNIQUE message? Of course you want to describe what problem your service solves or what need your product fulfills. However, a great marketing message conveys this information with a unique twist.

Now that you’ve got an idea of your message, it’s essential that you have a deep understanding of the intended audience. For years I’ve been asking nascent entrepreneurs to draw a picture of their ideal customer. This exercise serves two purposes. First, it begins to dissuade budding entrepreneurs from the belief that they are going to try to market to “everyone.” Secondly, these drawings serve to open the discussion where business owners explore their knowledge, or lack thereof, about their potential customers. One-size-fits-all is a very ineffective way to market your business, so your second marketing plan question is: Who is my IDEAL customer?

Once you have a unique message and solid idea of you intended audience you need to ask the third question: WHERE do I find them (my ideal customers)? There are many ways to engage your intended customer base including, advertising, social media and face-to-face networking. Your job is to determine where your ideal customers turn for information and entertainment and meet them there. Each of these three basic methods has some benefits and drawbacks. For example, traditional paid advertising can be expensive and if your customer base doesn’t watch network television or read newspapers this can mean wasted money. The demographic profiles of the various social media platforms continue to change as well, so before spending time and energy online its best to figure out if you are posting into a void while your potential customers are seeking solutions elsewhere. Face-to-face networking can be incredibly effective for businesses that require a large element of trust, but you need to budget time and money to attend enough events to make an impact.

Creating a marketing plan can be a complicated and time consuming task. However, if you start by answering these three key questions that task will be much easier.

  • What is my unique message?
  • Who is my ideal customer?
  • Where do I find them?

These questions form the outline of your basic marketing plan. Answering them will lead you on to more detailed inquires and perhaps to spending some time delving into research. If you don’t know these answers, then you aren’t ready to launch your enterprise.

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About Karen Southall Watts

In 2005, Karen Southall Watts drove alone, with most of her life in a station wagon, across the United States from North Carolina to the Northwest corner of Washington to start a new life. Karen has been a business consultant, college instructor, coach and speaker since 1999. Years of working in social services, experience as…