Chapter 7: Marketing Plan
The next step is creating your marketing plan and doing test marketing. Now we’re getting to the reason you are in business in the first place. It’s not to pay taxes or to comply with government regulations, but your purpose is to provide something useful in the marketplace, something that consumers value and are willing to spend money to acquire.
A marketing plan is simply the methods and media you plan to use to reach your prospects and future customers. You will probably have more than one method, and the exact mix and frequency of contact is going to be different for each business. To be effective in this, you must do two things:
First, you must know your market, you must know what drives them, what causes them to take action… and you should always be increasing your knowledge by doing research. Are your customers predominantly male, female, or an equal mix? Are they homeowners? What is their income level?
Second, you should test to determine which marketing methods and media are valued most by your prospects and customers.
Here are some of the media that are available to you:
• Email marketing
• Affiliate marketing (paying others a percentage of every sale they bring to you)
• Direct mail (letters, brochures, postcards, samples, trial offers)
• Informational local seminars
• Cold calling (in person or telephone)
Methods or techniques would include:
• Money back guarantee (almost a must in many markets)
• Trial offers (a limited time or quantity for a small amount of money or free)
• Free support or coaching to accompany a related product or service
• Down sells
Now some explanation on the latter two. Upsells and downsells are used commonly on the internet, but they are not restricted to online sales. When the McDonald’s employee asks, “Do you want fries with that?” they are doing an upsell. You’ve already decided to buy and they are asking if you want to buy more. A down sell is where you decline the offer, and some less expensive option is offered. This technique is often used in telemarketing, and can be used in many direct selling environments.
Here is where the “rubber meets the road” to use a worn out cliche that is nonetheless very appropriate to the topic at hand. Once you have a pretty good handle on your demographic and the means by which to reach them, now is the time to see if you can connect with representative members of your market. You need to know whether people are willing to pay for what you are offering.
If you’re offline, you can try pitching your offer to people who are in your demographic. You may have to get creative to do this. Here are a few ideas:
Find some public place where your target market frequents, and get permission from the business owner to leave a fishbowl or box where people can leave their business cards or fill out an informational card (if your target is not business people). Offer some free service that encompasses part of what you are offering, and also promise that one person will receive a gift certificate to the restaurant, hardware store, or whatever is appropriate.
This step will increase the chances of the business establishment’s owner saying “yes” to your plan. Collect the names for two to four weeks, draw a winner (have someone at the store do the drawing, do it with as much fanfare as possible), and then start calling the names with your free offer and pitch.
See if you can get interviewed on a local radio station, and see if they’ll allow you to make a special, limited time offer to listeners.
Local newspapers will often print news about new businesses that people have started. Follow the radio interview advice above.
Do a free one or two hour informational seminar and see if anyone shows up. This can be a great option; you can audio or video tape the event for future marketing promotions, and you can make a short offer at the end.
Online, you have other options, and many of them will not cost you a penny.
If your target market frequents forums, become an expert in that forum by contributing helpful posts, especially if you can promote your products and services in your forum signature.
Marketing on eBay is a tried-and-true method of doing test marketing, and it still works in many markets.
If you’re willing to spend a little money, Google Adwords is a great way to test. You can include as many ads as you like, and make them compete with one another. You only pay for ads that are clicked on. You can drive the traffic to a survey page, offering something for free if your prospects fill out the survey and give you their email address.
If you have a list of email addresses, you can become an affiliate for products similar to the one you are selling, and take notice of which offers and products your prospects buy most. You can ask that list to fill out a survey. Or you can simply offer them a special deal on *your* offering, provided they tell you what they think people will pay for it.
If you have a relationship with someone who has a list of names of people in your market, see if they will interview you or do a review of your product, send the interview or review to their list, and give them an affiliate commission on any sales.