HomeOPINIONDo you need a marketing plan?

Do you need a marketing plan?

Perhaps you have been running your retail store for years and have lost track with having a marketing plan. Perhaps you have never even had one? But if you don’t, then you haven’t focused your attention on who your customer is or how you’ll reach them.

Marketing plans are important as they help you understand what you are doing, who your target audience is and more importantly, who they are not.

Many times, I speak with retailers and they say their audience is everyone. Or anyone who has a wallet (or a mouth). Blah! Does everyone have children? Does everyone drive a car? What about kids who are only connected to their smartphone and never watch free-to-air TV? Is everyone vegetarian and do all the people you know catch public transport? Quite simply, no. There are many segments of shoppers and they have different needs, wants and desires.

If you want to be successful then you must define your primary audience and how you are going to engage with them. Effectively and efficiently to drive sales and conversion (or the old fashion recency, frequency and value – how long between visits, how often they visit and how much they spend).

Yes, marketing plans take a bit of time to pull together but once you have developed it, everything becomes easier. What to communicate, where to communicate, merchandise planning and team communication. Because you have focus.

Five questions to define your marketing plan

Why do you do what you do?

Go beyond some generic description of the services you provide or the products you sell. What makes your business better? What makes you unique? How is what you do different than your competitors?  

Who are my customers?

The more precise and focused your audience, the less you will spend to reach them. Stay focused on developing just three to four different customer personas so that when you are developing your marketing plan, you can clearly see one of those key groups.

What are my goals?

If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there – or when you are off course?

How much can I afford to spend to achieve these goals?

Often, it’s hard to set a budget if you haven’t done a marketing plan before. Even if you change it later, have an amount which is realistic and covers not only any media costs, but the creation of the activity (eg. do you need to buy iStock photos for a newsletter or budget for Facebook sponsored posts)?

Your supplier partners often have co-op advertising budgets or other activities you can engage in. For example, if you accept GEM card, Latitude Finance has an excellent set of campaigns directed to their database of customers. Just ask your supplier partners how they can help support your marketing activity. They often have insights that you might not be able to find yourself telling about your target shoppers behaviour, or even excellent photography you can access.

How exactly are you going to reach your target market to meet your goals?

The simplest way is to work backwards from your goals to develop strategies (what’s your logic?) and tactics (how are you going to do it?) Then plug them into a calendar.

An example would be:

Goal: Increase customer traffic by 25 percent weekly

Strategy: Customer traffic currently increases by 10 percent with each e-newsletter. Increasing the subscriber base to the E-newsletter by 15 percent should result in a 25 percent increase in weekly traffic.

Tactic: Create a counter card offering a free widget (or 10 percent off their purchase) to every new E-newsletter subscriber during the month. Train every employee on why this is important. Have a contest for signups. Track all new submissions to see if they came back after an email. You get the idea.

The key is to just start. Waiting gets you nowhere.

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