For those who dream of escaping cubicles to pursue a passion, drafting a business plan is the first step. One of your plan's most critical elements is your marketing strategy. Too often, people don't think through that all-important component with the same rigor they tackle aspects like projected cash flow and long-term goals.
Or, they do put thought and effort into planning for market research, promotion and positioning -- and then never follow through on their great ideas.
One problem is that most entrepreneurs don't have marketing experience. They may be skilled tradesmen, savvy financial advisers or talented writers -- expert in the niche they plan to build their business around -- but they're not marketers. Some don't realize that executing a solid marketing strategy is essential to any venture's success. Others know it's important but don't know where to begin.
Here's why it's so important: No matter how ingenious your product or service, no one will find it if they don’t know it’s there.
The marketing component of your business plan should include a budget for time, if you plan to tackle the job yourself, and money. You need a timetable and a professional website that attracts visitors and makes it easy for them to learn more about you, your product or service -- and equally easy to purchase what you're selling.
Here are some other points to consider as you're developing your marketing plan:
• What is my message? Your message needs to be more than "My product is great." What's the problem it solves? If you're a professional, what's the value you and your service offer? How are you different from your competition? As an example: At my marketing firm, we create visibility and credibility for our clients using a pay-for-performance model that guarantees media exposure and sets us apart from our peers.
• Who is my audience?