So you came up with a great idea. You’re going to sell t-shirts that you design online. You signed up for Shopify and built a website. You found a supplier and printer. You created a few designs. You even bought an LLC to make it official. You’re in business, right? Not really.
A bunch of other people just had the same idea. Of the 12-24 million ecommerce stores worldwide, only 650,000 make more than $1,000 per year. What sets them apart? Good marketing. Just because you have a website, a Facebook and an Instagram account, doesn’t mean you’ll bring in business.
Here are five reasons why you need a marketing plan:
Knowing your target is the first, most important step in creating a marketing plan. You can have the best messaging in the world, but if it isn’t reaching the right audience, it doesn’t matter.
Learning who to target not only helps you select the right demographics when running ads, it allows you to determine the best ways to communicate and where to do it — platform, content, frequency, etc.
Taking the time to research who’s interested in your product also keeps you focused on the big picture of your business — where you are now and where you want to go.
When you understand your customer and what they’re looking for, it’s easier to identify market opportunities, trends, and challenges in the marketplace. You’re able to make better decisions based on facts, rather than a hope and a prayer.
Instead of “I want to sell t-shirts,” a marketing plan provides a vision for your business and outline key areas for growth. Though sales goals are always important, a marketing plan looks at other objectives to work towards.
Short-term goals may include increasing website traffic, conversions, social engagements and number of followers. Long-term goals to consider are brand awareness, reputation, and search rankings.
Marketing goals should be determined by what’s important to you and your business. It could be to drive sales, get more leads, expand market share, secure more funding, or re-position your product line.
Other initiatives might be to get more media attention, bring on affiliate partners, or align with influencers to grow your brand. Marketing goals should be determined by what you want to accomplish. Tactics are developed to meet those needs.
Entrepreneurs are busy. You’re the CEO, customer service, the marketing department, HR, accounting, and often responsible for packing and shipping.
A marketing plan creates a clear roadmap with distinct action items to attain your goals. This means you can get things done quickly. You know what you have to do, when you have to do it, and how long it will take you to complete.
If you know that you need to make three Facebook posts for the week, write a blog, and create graphics for an upcoming promotion, you have a plan and can follow it.
Your editorial calendar and social content folder make this step simple. A marketing plan creates an environment where you won’t feel overwhelmed by everything you have to do and will feel empowered to move forward, one item at a time.
The goal is to make money and to live a life you love. By creating a targeted marketing plan to hit your goals and following a comprehensive action plan, you’ll be on track to increase revenue, visibility, and credibility.
Whether you do it yourself or have a marketing specialist create a strategic marketing plan for you, you’ll be positioned to grow your business and lessen the stress in your life, making you happier.
An added benefit of having a marketing plan is that it can help you raise money, if you’re looking for financing. A marketing plan is an important element of a business plan, which investors and lenders will ask for to assess their risk and to determine the feasibility of your business.
In this case, marketing plans can work two ways: to help you earn money and attract outside funding.
Most importantly, a marketing plan puts you in control of your business. At times, there may be so much going on that you feel like you’re caught in a whirlwind, not sure of what to do. A strategic plan can give you point-by-point guidelines on how to allocate your time, energy, and resources.
A marketing plan can also act as a great motivator. Knowing what you’re working towards with a set plan on how to get there, gives you the confidence you need to launch your business forward.
And that confidence and positive energy can be felt – with employees, customers, vendors, and partners – as well as through your brand image online and offline.
With a marketing plan in hand, your goals are set and you know how to attain them. You understand your audience and what they want. You’re focused and in charge of your business. Putting in the time and effort to create a marketing plan and follow through on a strategic action plan is sure to pay off to grow your business.
Robin Samora is a marketing / PR expert and speaker from Boston, MA. She teaches small business owners how to rev up their brand online and offline to attract new clients, connect with customers, get media exposure, and increase sales. Have a question on how to build your business and brand? Get the latest marketing insights by signing up for Robin’s weekly articles at RobinSamora.com or contact her here to schedule a complimentary call.