Sometimes new business owners wonder if developing a strategic marketing plan is worth the effort. Can’t I just put my business out there and let the work speak for itself? It’s a nice thought, but the difference between crafting a killer marketing plan and a mediocre one isn’t just a few extra sales here and there. By taking the time to create a more comprehensive and tactical plan, you’ll be zeroing in on your target audience, establishing your brand identity, and in doing so, communicating your unique value to the most fertile field of potential new customers.
This is why it’s always worth taking the time early on to diversify your marketing, using multiple tactics and taking note of what works best. Before you get started, you’ll need to identify your objectives and envision what you hope to achieve. Then it’s time to put your ideas into action. During this process, you will discover the why, the who, the what, and the how that will clear a navigable path to professional success.
The first step is to identify your why. To some, this might feel obvious. I want to be my own boss and earn a decent living! But this leaves out some important specifications. What is your earnings target? Are you hoping to retire from your current “day job” and pursue your travel business full-time? Have you carved out and niche that separates your business from others like it? Are you hoping to make a positive impact on the world or just make money? Determining the underlying reason that motivates you can take you from a simple why statement, like the one I previously mentioned, to something more detailed, like: “Within the next three years, I intend to generate an annual income of at least $85,000 so I can afford to work full time as a travel advisor and realize my dream of building a successful business selling river cruises.”
Once the all-important why statement is established, don’t hesitate. I’ve talked before about setting SMART goals to help you put your plan into action and get the results you’re aiming for. But getting results isn’t the end of the process. You then have to measure your results against your original goals and recalibrate accordingly. Talking about this calls to mind the old quote from Bruce Lee, “Keep what is useful, discard what is useless, and add what is uniquely your own.”
Putting this all together, you can now get really tactical. Set your short-, medium-, and long-term objectives (could be a one-year, five-year, and 10-year objective), and go from there. As you carry on in this strategic way, you’ll be able to establish more easily who your ideal clients are and what your areas of focus should be. These two factors are the who and what of your marketing plan, and together form a sort of “golden key” that will help you unlock how to make your goal a reality. It’s a process that takes time, but comes with a proven track record.
There are other factors still to consider, such as budgeting for different outreach channels like consumer events, mailings, and website maintenance, but remember that these finer points are secondary to the larger goal. You have a unique value proposition, a dream of your own that sets you and your business apart. Shout it from the rooftops! Once you have clearly envisioned what you want to accomplish, you’ve illuminated your own path to success.