Don't Let Your Business Fall Off the Fiscal Cliff
Regardless of politics or policies, you must start thinking about growing your business in 2013
As I look around the world of business, I see an environment that has pushed the pause button. After a divisive and exhausting election season, it is no wonder that American business owners and executives seem to be in a holding pattern. The country spent many tiring months debating its future direction, and now we have emerged from that electoral fight and appear to be headed straight off thefiscal cliff. It is enough to make anyone want to buckle their metaphorical seatbelts and prepare for a bumpy ride.
But taking a wait-and-see attitude toward future economic developments will only put your business further behind in 2013, whichever way the political and economic winds blow. Instead, businesses should be harnessing the power of strategic marketing planning to better prepare for a successful year to come.
Tap the power of strategic marketing planning for your business
Most of us remember the "Four Ps of Marketing" that we learned way back in Marketing 101:Price, Product, Promotion, and Placement.
If you want to make improvements in your business, we learned, you make changes in one or more of these areas until you get the right mix for your market.
The advice is good, but it is incomplete. To really succeed in a business climate that is buffeted by change daily, you need to understand two more Ps:PsychographicsandPurchase Behavior.
Unlike demographics which are the objective facts and figures that describe our customers (e.g. age, income, gender) and tell us who can afford our products, psychographics tell us who has the willingness to buy - among all of our possible consumers, who is the most likely to purchase our item, and what lifestyle clues they give us that tell us how to reach them.Purchase behaviortells us more about what consumer behaviors we need to target to inspire those with the money and willingness to buy to think about and purchase our products.
While the original "Four Ps" focus on how the business can manipulate its presentation of the product, they leave out the role of the customer. Adding these new Ps gives us a much more complete picture of the climate our businesses operate in.
Understanding and applying the data on psychographicsandpurchase behaviorrequires more than a basic understanding of marketing theory; it requires decades of experience. Success requires research - you need to gather facts and figures in order to create winning strategies. And they need to be the right facts: accurate, reliable, dependable and interpreted accurately for your product and your brand. That's where Unity Marketing comes in.
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A strategic marketing plan will help you assess your current position in the market and create competitive strategics to build your market share
Too many companies are approaching the new consumer environment with the same old strategic marketing plan in place. But the consumer market is very different today than it was two years, five years, or ten years ago. Companies need a plan that is designed for today's environment and today's customer: one who is younger and who behaves differently than those from prior generations.
Through Unity Marketing, I offer a consulting service that leverages the experience we have working with big companies and major brands toward helping small and mid-sized businesses grow. I will work personally with you to research your business, explore opportunities and develop a strategic marketing plan customized to your business.
To learn more about thestrategic planningprocess, I have written a white paper, entitled "What, So What, Now What - You've Built It, But Will the Customers Come," that describes the five-step process for creating your own strategic marketing plan. The steps are:
1. Conduct a Needs Analysis
Define your own business objectives, challenges and issues. Focus on the end goal of the marketing plan to see where you ultimately need to go.
2. Conduct a Marketing Audit
This is the research phase of the planning process where you study your existing marketing programs, successes and failures; study results with key partners, staff members, sales reps, media planners, etc.; evaluate marketing and promotional materials, websites, product positioning, pricing, distribution models, etc.; evaluate competitors; investigate target market, customer profiles, etc.
3. Review Your Marketing Report Card
Review the results of the marketing audit objectively and critically. Build a SWOT (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, Threats) analysis that clearly lays out the current environment for your product service.
4. Create a Strategic Marketing Plan
With all inputs from the previous phases, develop astrategic marketing plandetailing key strategies for the Four Ps - plus those critical extra two -- that will help you connect and build market share with your target customer market.
5. Build in On-going Feedback
And the final critical step is to create milestones and guidepost along the way to measure success, evaluate results, and adjust course as needed.