Sales and marketing plans, when produced well, have the ability to dramatically improve your bottom line results. They can create more leads, drive greater sales from those leads, and even help you tailor your products to new and wider markets. Of course all of this relies on you actually following the plan.
Getting a good marketing plan
The important thing to be aware of with any sales and marketing plan is that it is not a promotional plan. Promotion should be included as just one element of the overall marketing activity. It is a common misconception that marketing and promotion are in effect the same thing. In our experience, promotion in isolation almost never delivers the results you would want. The best marketers we’ve worked with (both in approach and the results they’ve delivered) understand that in order to get the most from promotional activity, the every element in the marketing mix must be aligned. So what are these marketing mix items? Marketing theorists would tell you it’s most simply defined as the Seven P’s (Product, Price, Place, Promotion, People, Process and Physical evidence). In short, it’s how marketing impacts each aspect of your business, in particular, those areas that your customers experience. A good plan will not only tell you how and where you can promote your business, but also outline how you can make the most of the leads generated by converting more of them to sales. It should assist you in understanding your customers better, and show you how to get customers coming back to you again and again.
Make sure you can take action
The outcome of any good marketing plan should be to provide you with a useful outline of what actions need to be taken in your business. The best plans will outline the most ideal order for these things to happen – and the order is important. Let’s assume for a moment that your marketing plan suggests that you need to introduce some training for your sales team (and hopefully goes into detail about what should be included). Later in the plan, some promotional activity is suggested (like radio, or a flyer drop). Money and time are tight, so it’s unlikely you’ll do these both at the same time. So which do you do first? If you get this wrong, it could result in you not seeing the results that you should and reduce your enthusiasm for the idea, and then when you roll out the other, it may not work as well as it now isn’t supported by the original activity. If you’re wondering, we’d most likely suggest the sales training goes first – there’s no point in running a promotional campaign if your sales team aren’t going to convert as many of the leads as possible. Actually, while we’re on the subject, we’d almost always leave promotional activity until everything else is sorted – money spent on advertising or promotion can be easily wasted if it’s not well supported.
Make sure you do take action
Many a good marketing plan never sees its potential as the advice and action plans provided have not been implemented. It’s a curious quirk of us humans that despite how much we like an idea, or believe in a suggested solution, we seem at times to be unable to move away from the way we’ve always done things. Diet books are a great example. Many provide great advice, and if followed, would likely provide their readers great results. Yet, despite spending the money buying a book, and many hours reading it, many people fall short at the action stage. Don’t let that be you. Recognise that a good sales and marketing plan is only the beginning of the process, and that what follows is a genuine effort (from you and probably others) to improve the way things are done in your business. Rolling out plans that transform your business is very rarely simple or straightforward, but with perseverance and commitment, you can create the impact in your business you need.
Business owners frequently think that they are expected to have all the answers. This approach to running a business is rarely feasible or successful. If you’ve started a business, it’s probably because you felt you could do a great job of producing a certain product, or you could provide a service faster, or cheaper. You probably focused on what you could do differently, and made that your focus. The same goes for critical functions within your business.
When it comes to improving the various aspects of your business, you may need to bring in talented people to help you out. Accountants, technical people, or anyone with the exact skills that you need to ensure success. Sure, it’s possible for a home handy-man to build his own home, but in doing so, it will take a significantly longer time, and many avoidable and costly mistakes are likely to be made. Bringing in reliable experts such as an architect, builder, electrician, plumber etc will not only ensure the job gets done faster, it will likely cost less in the long run. In your business, bringing in experts where appropriate allows you to free up your time, which allows you to concentrate on other important areas of the business – like developing new products or services.