Planning for the Discovery Meeting for Your Free Marketing Plan

If you plan on taking advantage of the offer for a free marketing plan, then you need to know what you have to get together before you have the discovery meeting with your consultant. Your consultant will then create your free marketing plan that will include recommendations for what additional marketing services can help your business.

What is a discovery meeting?

The discovery meeting brings you and the marketing professional together to talk about different marketing services offered. They will be looking to understand your business better – in its current state and your future vision. The marketing consultant will also explain the variety of marketing services offered so you will be better able to understand the final marketing plan when it is delivered.

What are some of the marketing services offered?

Marketing services go far beyond keyword research and website optimization. It can include everything from brand development, SEO consultation, telemarketing services, email marketing, white papers, publishing and more. A marketing plan doesn’t create a path from point A to Point B; it takes a dynamic approach to identifying the influences on your demographic to then create a multi-channel marketing web that is specific to your brand, product or service.

What do I need to have ready?

To prepare for your discovery meeting you first have to contact Marketing.com using their online form, chat option, or via email or phone. They will want a brief overview of your product and services, and then they will schedule the discovery meeting. For the discovery meeting you will want to bring along:

• The existing marketing plan or strategy
• Analysis reports
• SEO strategies
• Product/service descriptions
• Development descriptions
• Demographic information

The marketing professional will then be able to look at these and ask more specific questions to gain insight into what would be the best marketing services to include in your plan.

What makes up a marketing plan?

The marketing plan is the overview of multi-channel approaches you should be implementing to develop and retain your prospects. It may include a call for brand development and demand generation as well. If your existing strategy is somewhat successful, but you want to grow – the marketing services it recommends may be more focused on customer relations – such as social media marketing, email marketing and telemarketing services.

What happens next?

After your discovery meeting, your consultant will complete and finish your free marketing plan for you. Once you have reviewed the plan, it is time to decide what will be your strategy of implementation. This can involve an analysis of your competition to begin to prioritize what areas of your marketing need the most attention first. The strategies are considered dynamic and are responsive to the ongoing data analysis of your SEO performance that you should be collecting and reviewing on a regular basis. With your marketing plan to guide you with marketing services that will be effective for your business, you can increase your presence, influence and retention quickly.

What Magic Happens When A Business Marketing Plan Comes Together?

For most business owners the key to success lies in a solid marketing plan with strong marketing tactics.

A marketing plan is a blueprint that outlines a company’ overall marketing efforts.

There are a ton of plan templates readily available on the internet.

Taking advantage of these plan templates and marketing calendars can help determine the success or failure of your business in 2015

Now, what happens when a marketing plan comes together?

1. You will discover who your best most important audience is and what your clients want from you

Hopefully you are creating and offering products and services with a specific target audience in mind.

However, you may find that clients, customers and patients other than your targeted audience will also been able to benefit from what you have to offer.

Understanding who your audience is a key component in marketing, sales and improving your services and/or products.

2. Increases awareness of your company

Most people won’t pay any attention to your company, unless they need you. They only care about themselves, it human nature.

A marketing plan enables you to formulate a way to help future clients see the benefits of using your product or service. When done right, this establishes your credibility in the marketplace and hopefully solidifies your business as a reliable source.

3. You will be prepared.

When you have a good marketing strategy you’ll be surprised at how fast your company will be able to respond to unexpected marketing and developments from your competition.

A well-written plan that covers all bases will include a projection on possible threats and detailed ways you can respond or capitalize off them.

4. Obtaining Finance

Companies, including small businesses often need to acquire extra financing.

A well-thought out business plan along with detailed marketing is evidence of good planning which could be extremely helpful in obtaining loans.

Without a solid business plan and marketing strategy, even the most profitable business would have a difficult time getting financing. Free sample marketing plans are readily available online, they can serve as good examples while saving you time creating your documents.

5. Save Money

One of the biggest benefits of a marketing strategy that your business is more likely to save money.

The average marketing plan includes a set budget that will be used in your marketing efforts for the year.

Yes, by outline your marketing plans, and specifying how much money is going to be used to support various marketing efforts it helps your company save a lot of money on unplanned marketing campaigns.

If you and your team hasn’t sat down to develop a marketing plan for the year, it’s time to do so now.

Start off with a marketing template to help outline your company’s marketing strategies the expand from there.

There are so many benefits from having a marketing plan that it would be insane to start 2015 without one.

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5 Reasons Why You Should Create a 2015 Marketing Plan Even If You Don’t Want One

No doubt with the new year quickly rolling around in just around the corner, your company is preparing to tighten up its business plans.

As much as you’re tempted to just stick with the same old business and marketing plan, with hopes that it will help to increase profits, it’s time to go back in the saddle and update your marketing strategy for 2015.

Here are a few ideas to help you…

1) Taking advantage of new technology will help you win the race.

We can all agree that technology is here to stay, with new web trends, mobile phones and tablets, marketing tactics should accommodate emerging tech.

To generate more profits in the upcoming year, figure out fresh ways to deliver content and your service through these new mediums.

Ask yourself, has your company delved into the mobile app development industry?

Is your online presence strong?

These are just a couple of things that should be apart of your planning when developing a 2015 marketing plan.

2) Top brands are boosting ad spending.

According to Ad Age major auto brands such as Audi and Chevy have announced their plans to launch more television advertisements. While you may not have a Fortune 500 marketing budget, such moves from top brands inspires ideas you can borrow for your marketing, on a smaller scale.

Create a new marketing strategy that allows you to advertise on emerging platforms, if it can be measured for ROI.

3) What worked and what didn’t work?

As great as some of our marketing ideas seemed for 2014, you have to admit that not all of those supposed “great” ideas worked. Understanding where you went wrong with past efforts will help you determine where things fell apart.

Also, it provides concrete evidence that supports continuing or changing your marketing strategy. This is one of the most important things you should think about when creating or updating your marketing plan for 2015.

4) New products and services deserve fresh planning.

Has your company added new products or services to the product mix? Perhaps you’re launching a new product or service soon?

Using the same marketing tactics for new products and services may not work as well as past marketing for your existing products and services. You want to get consumers hyped about the latest things you have in store. This requires a change in marketing focus.

5) Move a level up on your competitors.

You can bet your last dollar that your company’s competitors are brainstorming different ways to surpass you and to stay on top. This means that they are creating fresh and maybe innovative marketing tactics that will entice clients, customers and patients.

You may want to do the same if you want to stay a step ahead. Including innovative tactics on your marketing calendar will help make your upcoming year profitable.

Even though last year’s plan may have worked fairly well for you, why not shoot for better results with an updated marketing plan for this upcoming year?

“Discover The Quickest, Simplest And Easiest Way To Create Your Next Marketing Plan… RIGHT NOW”… Because this little-known shortcut website saves you hours and hours, thousands of dollars and 100% guarantees you’ll get your plan and marketing calendar done, FASTER & EASIER.

The e-Marketing Plan – Brief Overview and Working Scheme

I. Summary of a marketing plan

The marketing planning (concretized in the marketing plan) is an essential organizational activity, considering the hostile and complex competitive business environment. Our ability and skills to perform profitable sales are affected by hundreds of internal and external factors that interact in a difficult way to evaluate. A marketing manager must understand and build an image upon these variables and their interactions, and must take rational decisions.

Let us see what do we call a “marketing plan”? It is the result of the planning activity, a document that includes a review of the organization’s place in the market, an analysis of the STEP factors as well as a SWOT analysis. A complete plan would also formulate some presumptions on why we think the past marketing strategy was successful or not. The next phase shall present the objectives we set, together with the strategies to achieve these objectives. In a logical sequence, we will further need to evaluate the results and formulate alternative plans of action. A plan would consist in details of responsibilities, costs, sales prognosis and budgeting issues.

In the end, we should not forget to specify how the plan (or plans) will be controlled, by what means we will measure its results.

We will see how to build the marketing plan, what is its structure: after we will see how to build the traditional marketing plan, we will take a look at the e-marketing plan and see how the unique features of the internet will require some changes in the approach of writing a marketing plan.

But, before we continue, we must understand and accept that steps of the marketing plan are universal. It is a logical approach of the planning activity, no matter where we apply it. The differences you meet from a plan to another consist in the degree of formality accorded to each phase, depending on the size and nature of the organization involved. For example, a small and not diversified company would adopt less formal procedures, because the managers in these cases have more experience and functional knowledge than the subordinates, and they are able to achieve direct control upon most factors. On the other hand, in a company with diversified activity, it is less likely that top managers have functional information in a higher degree than the subordinate managers. Therefore, the planning process must be formulated to ensure a strict discipline for everyone involved in the decisional chain.

II. The general marketing plan

The classical marketing plan would follow the following scheme of 8 stages:

1. Declaring the mission: this is the planning stage when we establish the organizational orientations and intentions, thus providing a sense of direction. In most cases, this is a general presentation of the company’s intentions and almost has a philosophic character.

2. Establishing current objectives: it is essential for the organization to try to determine with preciseness the objectives to be reached. These objectives, in order to be viable, must be SMART. SMART is an acronym and stands for “Specific”, “Measurable”, “Attainable”, “Realistic” and “Timed”. The objectives must also convey the general organizational mission.

3. Gathering information: this stage is based on the concept of marketing audit. After performing the audit of the macro-environment by analyzing the STEP factors (social, technologic, economic and politic), we should turn the focus upon the immediate extern environment (the micro-environment) and analyze the competitive environment, the costs and the market. Finally, we will conclude with the SWOT analysis, by this way we will have a general view upon the internal environment compared to the external one. The SWOT analysis combine the two perspectives, from the inside and from the outside, because the Strengths and the Weaknesses are internal issues of an organization, while the Opportunities and Threads come from the outside.

4. Re-formulating objectives: after the close examination of data gathered in the previous stage, sometimes it is needed to re-formulate the initial objectives, in order to address all the issues that might have come up from the previous stage. The distance between the initial objective and the re-formulated objective will be covered by appropriate strategies. We must ensure the re-formulated objective is SMART as well.

5. Establishing strategies: several strategies are to be formulated, in order to cover the distance between what we want to achieve and what is possible to achieve, with the resources at our disposal. As we would usually have several options, we should analyze them and chose the one with more chances to achieve the marketing objectives.

6. Plan of actions: consists in a very detailed description of the procedures and means to implement the actions we want to take. For example, if the strategy implies a raise in advertising volume, the plan of actions should establish where the advertisements will be placed, the dates and frequency of the advertising campaigns, a set of procedures to evaluate their effectiveness. The actions we plan to take must be clearly formulated, measurable, and the results must be monitored and evaluated.

7. Implementation and control: consist in the series of activities that must be performed in order to run the marketing plan in accordance to the objectives set by the marketer. At this stage, it is critical to gain the support of all members if the organization, especially when the marketing plan is due to affect the organization from its grounds.

8. Performance measurement: constitutes the last but not the less important stage of the marketing plan, since we can achieve only what we can measure. In order to measure the performances achieved through the marketing plan, we need to constantly monitor each previous stage of the plan.

The marketing plan that has a feedback cycle, from 8th stage back to the 4th. That is because sometimes during the planning process, we might need to perform stages 4 to 8 several times before the final plan can be written.

III. The e-marketing plan

The e-marketing plan is built exactly on the same principles as the classical plan. There is no different approach, but there might be some formal differences given by the uniqueness of the internet environment. Many of these differences come from the necessity to ensure a high rate of responsiveness from the customers, since the e-world is moving faster and requires faster reaction from its companies, compared to the traditional offline marketplace.

Even though it is perfectly acceptable and is a common practice to use the 8-stage classic model for the e-marketing plan as well, you might want to consider the simplified version proposed by Chaffey, who identifies four major steps to build the e-marketing plan:

1. Strategic analysis: consists in continuous scanning of the macro- and micro-environment. The accent should fall on the consumers’ needs that change very rapidly in the online market, as well as on surveying the competitors’ actions and evaluating the opportunities offered by new technologies.

2. Defining strategic objectives: the organization must have a clear vision and establish if the media channels will complement the traditional ones, or will replace them. We must define specific objectives (don’t forget to check if they are SMART!) and we must also specify the contribution of the online activities to the organization’s turnover.

3. Formulating strategies – we do that by addressing the following essential issues:

- develop strategies towards the target markets;

- positioning and differentiating strategies;

- establish priorities of online activities;

- focus attention and efforts on CRM and financial control;

- formulate strategies for product development;

- develop business models with well-established strategies for new products or services, as well as pricing policies;

- necessity for some organizational restructuring;

- changes in the structure of communication channels.

4. Implementing strategies: includes careful execution of all necessary steps to achieve established objectives. It could refer re-launching of a website, promo campaigns for a new or rewritten site, monitoring website efficiency and many more.

Note: a common strategy to achieve e-marketing objectives is the communication strategy. The steps to built a coherent communication plan will be presented within a further article.

IV. The e-marketing plan (sample titles)

1. Executive Summary

a. overview upon present conjuncture;

b. key aspects of the strategic e-marketing plan.

2. Situational Analysis

a. characteristics of the e-market;

b. possible factors of success;

c. competitors’ analysis;

d. technological factors;

e. legal factors;

f. social factors;

g. possible problems and opportunities.

3. The e-Marketing Objectives

a. product profile;

b. target market;

c. sales objectives.

4. The e-Marketing Strategies

a. product strategies;

b. price strategies;

c. promotion strategies;

d. distribution strategies.

5. Technical Issues

a. website content;

b. website “searcheability”;

c. logging security (for customers and staff);

d. customer registration procedure;

e. multimedia;

f. autoresponders;

g. order forms and feedback forms;

h. access levels to online resources;

i. credit card transactions;

j. website hosting;

k. website publishing;

l. technical staff (size, requirements)

6. Appendix

7. Bibliography

Otilia Otlacan is a young certified professional with expertise in e-Marketing and e-Business, currently working as independent consultant and e-publisher. She developed and teach her own online course in “Principles of e-Marketing” and is also a volunteer Economics teacher.

Why Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs Really Need A Solid Marketing Plan?

When I ask entrepreneurs and small business owners, it is not unusual for not having any marketing plan. I once read that Sir Richard Branson never had any marketing plan when he started the 1st Virgin business many years ago. In fact in one study of entrepreneurship (I couldn’t recall the name of the study) was that as much as 50% of entrepreneurs and business owners don’t have a business plan and marketing plan when they first started the business.

What was the outcome? As much as 90% businesses started by entrepreneurs and small business went busted or failed within a year. I experienced one of the many busts few years ago (with my cafe business) because i don’t really have a proper and “the few solid sheets” called a marketing plan.

Coming back to my questions to entrepreneurs and small business owners, many of their answers sounded like this, “I don’t really have one”, “It’s in my head coz I know the business so well” and worse, “I don’t know what is marketing plan”! If you happen to be in one of these categories, rest assured you are not the only one. And to perfectly honest, that’s the ultimate reason why I turned back to my writing board where I was actually in the middle of writing (rather perfecting!) a personal development programs. I dropped that program and quickly drafted and started Marketing Plan Breakthrough S6PEC because many of you need it, seriously.

But, I don’t specifically mean my own Marketing Plan S6PEC Framework because there are so many versions and gurus out there that can give you the benefit of marketing plan. Of course I am going to say mine is a lot better because it’s a practical and practitioner’s guide. Other than being a consultant, I also have performed marketing manager role, entrepreneur role, business manager role, investor and student of entrepreneurship (during my MBA!). But that’s not my main point. My main point is for you to have a marketing plan to guide your business. Which one? Well it is up to you!

So, to put things in perspective; why do you really need a marketing plan?

Guide
- in a marketing you will think, record and document all your ideas, products and services offering, price, distribution channel, programs, sales direction, customer segment and so on. I have experienced whereby I suddenly realized that my business is not going on the right direction because I didn’t follow my marketing plan. Have you experienced that? Or perhaps you suddenly realized that the thing you do know supposed to be done many months ago because you forgot about it? And you forgot because you don’t jot it down and plan for it? This is what I mean that marketing plan as a guide. I cover this in my Marketing Plan Breakthrough S6PEC.

Ideas
- people said the more you talk about your ideas the more refine it becomes. I think this is true. Did you ever experience when you talk to more people you generated a lot more ideas? When people give you feedback it triggers another dimension of your ideas? If you are, so where do you keep all these ideas? It should be in a marketing plan.

Resource Plan
- in marketing, there is only one thing that’s scarce: RESOURCES. Some people have a lot of money but lacked ideas and another group is the other extreme; more ideas and less money. Many of us probably the later than the former! In the marketing plan we will tackle things like people to hire, pricing, distribution plan, sales programs budget and so on.

Strategy
- similar to business strategy, marketing plan will capture strategies required to support your business strategy. For example if your business goal is to achieve 20% increase in sales, your marketing strategy would be to 1) introduce new product, 2) increase price for premium offerings, 3) recruit more distributors and offer commission scheme and so on. Strategy is king. When you can see your business in totality, I can assure you that you will find it easier to manoeuvre. Marketing plan is the place to address all these issues.

Risk
- in our marketing plan we shouldn’t only concern about making money or positive points, we also should address the risk we are taking. for example it is common for a marketing plan to capture things like, “require additional staff to handle sales call”, “additional investment from the management budget will increase chances of increasing 10% sales target” and many more. Imagine if you can factor your risk earlier and think through it, wouldn’t it be better for you?

Pricing
- I once said in my Marketing Plan Breakthrough S6PEC that, “Price is the key determinants of your profits”. I stand firm to keep it that way. In your marketing plan, you will address pricing plan for your distributors, customers, multiple segments (some business charge differently – price discrimination) and cost price i.e. your raw materials and things like that. Not many address price correctly and bear in my mind that we need to standby few pricing plan to respond to the market. Take for example during festive season, if everyone is lowering price and slashed their price or even ignited a price war, what do you do about that? Follow suit or wait? If you want to follow, how far? If you want to wait, how long? You capture all this in pricing plan.

Customer Segment
- this is talked about most of the time, but let’s accept the fact that today’s customers are fragmented to smaller niches. Your product and service will not be consumed by only one segment and at critical mass. it is likely to be consumed by smaller segment and multi. No more critical mass, but rather a solid spread of niches. For example, who buys iPod’s today? If Apple only think about yuppies they are making a big mistake because apparently iPod is also used by women and people with active lifestyle. Another example, who buys from hypermarket? If hypermarket only focuses on households they may not survive or be successful like today. Hypermarket main segment is actually small business restaurant operators that buy in larger quantity compare to households and on daily basis. I’ve been there, I know! LOL

Corrective Plan
- a marketing plan is a living document. Trust me, the moment you have it and experience planning your marketing, you will realize this. Therefore it is a plan that allows you to assess past strategies and results and at the same time allow you to make necessary corrective measures to fit your business growth. for example, who expected the 2008 financial crisis to hit us so badly? No one other than the few so called “economists” but how did responded to it? Severely. Many businesses closed including many giants. But the good thing is, many have a solid marketing and business plans, therefore they make quick corrective actions and moved forward.

Innovation
- I once sat in a meeting of project and business updates and suddenly one of the directors said, actually with all that we have now we can be in the medical device market. Violaaa!!! This medical device company used to service government hospitals and they have all the equipments. It’s just that they never thought of going direct to the hospitals and take the lion share of the business. In that meeting, after going through the company yearly updates, this “innovation” came instantaneously and the next year they are pitching about it to the government hospitals directly.

Imagine if you can do all these and manage all these in a marketing plan? Systematic, organized, well thought, innovative and captured all your pertinent business information, don’t you find having a marketing plan is useful for your business?

One thing about my business, I don’t sell templates. I only sell REAL content. I believe that template is only to give you the general overview of direction but not how-to do it. That’s why I highly not recommended you choose to download or purchase marketing templates because I have seen them i personally think it won’t help you much. Let me share you a recent story about template.

I have childhood friend who wanted to open a small business. I offered him my service at $$$ which is so much below market rate because we have been friends for 20 years. He said no, because he thinks there is another cheaper way to do it or in other words “resourceful is my middle name” kinda thing. So I let him do that. I offered him five days later that, if he needs me to view the marketing plan I will do it for free over tea. He showed me a marketing template he bought for USD 25 and all he got was a template!!! I scolded him and cursed the site that provided such thing. It was just boxes everywhere and not even a paragraph on how to fill those boxes. Well, this is what I mean and I defy being in that business because that’s cheating. By the way i got to do my friend’s job after that.:)

What I offered is much simpler, richer and with all the things you need. Firstly, my blog is to help you enhance and as a source to guide you on the marketing plan you purchase. Well, let’s don’t talk about purchase yet.