How a marketing plan can help you find and keep customers

June 30, 2016 - Tags: Planning Marketing

This guest blog post is provided by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). BDC is the only bank devoted exclusively to entrepreneurs. It promotes Canadian entrepreneurship with a focus on small and medium-sized businesses. With its 110+ business centres from coast to coast, BDC provides businesses in all industries with financing and advisory services. Its investment arm, BDC Capital, offers equity, venture capital and flexible growth and transition capital solutions.

How a marketing plan can help you find and keep customers

A lot of entrepreneurs are doers, meaning that tactical execution trumps everything. Head down, get it done, on to the next thing.

But when it comes to marketing, tactics without strategy can easily result in failure.

"If you jump headlong into the execution of 'stuff' — buying ads, putting up social media posts, sending out emails, etc. — it's easy to spend a lot of money and not see any benefit to your business," says Chris O'Shea, a business consultant with the BDC. "That's not a good place to be."

That's why it's so important to take the time to develop a marketing plan for your business. By planning your marketing step by step, you give your company the best chance of success in today's competitive marketplace.

A plan keeps you on track

"If you have a marketing plan in place, there will be a propensity to keep moving forward, to act on the plan," says O'Shea, who advises entrepreneurs on how to improve their marketing. "Without that plan, there's a good chance you'll fold your tent and stop pushing your brand and message out to your customers."

From establishing a strong brand to understanding your ideal customer and creating a compelling buying experience, the time you invest in planning will pay off many times in the months and years to come.

That's why BDC has created a free marketing plan template to lead you through the process of building your plan by asking some fundamental questions and embracing marketing best practices.

Key features of a marketing plan

BDC's marketing plan template will help you to:

  1. Define your brand
  2. Identify your customers
  3. Understand your competitors
  4. Identify your company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
  5. Define what makes your business different
  6. Map your customers' purchase journey
  7. Create your marketing action plan
  8. Monitor, measure and improve your marketing tactics

O'Shea has simple advice for entrepreneurs creating their marketing plan — think about your customers and what they want from a company like yours.

"How can you reach them? What channels can you use? What messaging will be effective?"

Think about your brand

You can also think about your brand. "Who are you? Why do you matter? What makes you different from the competition?"

Putting together your marketing plan will help you answer these questions. You'll then be able to budget, execute and adjust to improve.

"It's a dynamic process," O'Shea says. "If the plan isn't working, change it. But don't stop!"

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