The Guide to Creating a Marketing Plan for Small Businesses
Any small business that wants to be successful needs to have a solid marketing plan in place. Every aspect of marketing a company needs to have its own plan in order for those efforts to be effective. The need for separate business plans for each marketing project means a lot of work for small business owners, but that work pays for itself several times over in increased revenue. A good marketing plan allows you to track results and use that data to make better marketing plans in the future. Every business owner needs to understand what elements go into a solid business plan and how to create plans that will grow their businesses from taking out their first small-business loans to big-time success.
Market research describes the processes used to collect relevant data before, during, and after a marketing campaign has been executed. By doing market research, a company is attempting to determine its target audience, the mediums that are best to use when reaching that audience, and the most effective ways to create a marketing message that will motivate that audience. The data collected during market research is analyzed and updated on a constant basis to make it as current and accurate as possible. Without good market research, it is extremely difficult to have successful marketing plans.
At the heart of the marketing mix are the concepts surrounding product, price, promotion, and place. Marketing experts use these concepts to understand how to expand and maximize their offerings to reach as many people as possible. The marketing mix places emphasis on how the different areas of marketing work together to create a profitable product.
Product Life Cycle
In the marketing mix, the product life cycle is a big part of product development and the growth of product lines. Marketers examine the life of a product very closely to help make important decisions regarding production, promotion, and sales. Product experts analyze the historical data for a product line to determine the life cycle of each individual product. When a product is first released, sales data is carefully analyzed to determine if the product will be successful or not. Marketers need to let production managers know when it is time to start decreasing production on a product to save on production costs and to avoid having a large backlog of products people don't want.
The Internet has significantly changed the types of promotion techniques marketing experts use, but the smart business owner knows that online marketing alone is not going to be effective. In any marketing plan, the promotion techniques need to be planned out very specifically to help control costs. Radio, television, magazines, the Internet, and newspapers are all part of the promotional mix, and marketing experts have comprehensive ways to track the success of each promotion technique to determine if it will be used in the future.
Channels of Distribution
Buying space on retail shelves is not always the best way to get products to consumers. It takes years of research for companies to determine the best ways to distribute their products, and a good distribution plan usually consists of more than one channel. One of the biggest myths about channels of distribution is that the Internet is always the best way to sell products. With some types of products, the Internet can be an extremely ineffective and inefficient way of getting the job done.
- Developing a Marketing Plan: The Small Business Association offers comprehensive information on developing a successful marketing plan for small businesses.
- Market Research: The How-to: With this resource, you get a very simple but complete explanation of how to do market research.
- Gathering and Using Information: By using case studies of past marketing efforts, we learn how to gather market data and use it effectively.
- Basic Marketing Research: Volume 1 (PDF): This resource acts as a complete handbook to understanding marketing research.
- A Do-it-Yourself Guide to Conducting Local Market Research (PDF): With the information available in this resource, you can find effective ways to market to your local target audience.
- The Marketing Mix and Product: This is an interesting discussion that describes the marketing mix and how a small business can use it.
- Marketing: Here is a very comprehensive resource that explains the marketing mix and all other aspects of simple marketing.
- The Marketing Mix (PDF): Small-business owners can turn to this resource to get a detailed understanding of the marketing mix.
- The Product Life Cycle: With this graph, we can better understand a product's life cycle.
- Marketing and the Product Life Cycle: This is a resource that offers graphs that explain the product life cycle in easy terms.
- Managing New Products: The Product Life Cycle: The life cycle of a product must be monitored and managed in order to ensure the maximum life span of success.
- Marketing's Four P's (PDF): This is an extremely in-depth discussion of the four P's of the marketing mix concept.
- Measuring Short- and Long-Run Promotional Effectiveness on Scanner Data Using Persistence Modeling (PDF): This is the type of resource you read when you want to see how real data is measured during a promotional campaign.
- Public Relations, Sales Promotion, and Personal Selling: In this link, we see how sales, promotions, and public relations are tied together.
- The Effects of Social Media and Web Development on Product Promotion (PDF): Here is a link that puts a very contemporary spin on product promotion.
- Developing Effective Marketing Materials: This link acts as a how-to when it comes to marketing material development.
- Promoting Your Business: What makes this page stand out? It is a comprehensive step-by-step description on how to effectively promote a business.
- Children and Electronic Media: This link offers an interesting discussion of how marketing affects children.
- An Investigation of the Effectiveness of Uncertainty in Marketing Promotions Involving Free Gifts (PDF): If you are considering using free gifts to promote your product or company, then this link can give you helpful information to get started.
- Is the Price Right?: Here is a link that discusses the importance of strategic pricing.