It’s Market Planning Time! I know that all of you guys are just so excited about the prospect of trying to figure out exactly what magical marketing thing you can come up with for the next year that’s going to bring your business up to the level it deserves.

Whether you’re at a fortune 500 or still making your fortune as a small business owner, I’ve come up with this “Organic Marketing Plan” that is sure to please because it will get you focused on the things that matter most; Getting and Keeping Ideal, Profitable Customers.

So let’s get started!

  1. Describe your ideal customer and what’s important to them .Don’t think of your ideal customer as a segment – think of them as a PERSON. If they were missing or lost and on the side of a milk carton – how would I be able to spot them and send them to you? Another great tip I got is to literally find a picture that most closely represents your customer and create a collage around them of the things that are most important to them. Focus on what your ideal customer is actually thinking. In the case of our “Working Mom” example – she might be thinking “How will I fit into my old suits?! I can’t afford to replace them?” or “How do you take a power nap?”

    Create a magazine cover all about your ideal customer

    Create a magazine cover all about your ideal customer

  2. What do you want your marketing plan to accomplish? In other words, what do you have to accomplish to make it easy for this ideal customer to choose you? For those of you savvy planners – you might have noticed that I’ve switched the marketing objectives from #1 to #2. I did this because the goal of any marketing strategy is to get your ideal customer to choose YOU. So the first thing we need to do is get clear about who this customer is – and THEN set objectives around what they might need. In other words – we want to be sure that INSTEAD of selling things so that we can have customers – we have customers – so we can sell them things.
  3. What competitive advantage do we have that will make it easy for them to choose us? What is it that will set you apart from any other alternative. Don’t just use “quality” or “low price” ?use a real differentiating factor — most likely it will be a real feature of your business. For example – delivery in 30 minutes, or at home pick-up-and-delivery. The key is to get specific about what you are offering so that it’s intuitively obvious to your ideal customer as to when and why they will choose you.
  4. What will you offer your customer that will make them choose you? This is really your offer. Think of it as a bundle of your product, service, price, packaging, etc. What is it that you will offer your customer to purchase, what will it look like, how will it be delivered, what is the price, etc. So, think beyond just the product and service – think about the experience your customer will have as they interact with you every step of the way, from the time they hear about you to the time they are finished with you.
  5. In what ways will you build a relationship with your customers? Here’s the nitty gritty of your marketing plan activities. Since you’ve profiled your ideal customer, and you know what’s important to them, you are ready to think about how to build that relationship. How do they want to be communicated with? ?Take a look at “The Platinum Rule” it’s an excellent tool to get you focused. How can you build a community of customers? What role should social media play? See why it’s important to focus on your customer FIRST and what’s important to them – BEFORE you start setting marketing objectives. Waiting until #5 to build your marketing communication strategy will get you focused where it counts.
  6. How will you measure success? If you’ve set an objective to create a community or build a list around your product – then the number of people you have in your community or that have signed up for your list would be an easy measure of how successful you are. If you have a social media strategy that involves Twitter – perhaps you measure the number of “re-tweets” that your posts get. The key is to focus on what’s going to convert prospects to customers and start measuring your progress.
  7. What resources will you need to help you get there? So often we focus on budget. But there is more to getting it all done than money — especially when money is scarce. What skills or expertise will you need to help you achieve your marketing goals? Start there first – then start looking at your budget. To set your marketing budget focus on an ideal customer you already have. Now calculate the profit that this customer contributes to your business each year. That profit number is money you’ve already received. It’s the amount of money you have to invest to get another ideal customer just like that.

Try this outline and see how it works for you. What recommendations do you have that will make this even easier to complete and follow every day throughout the year?