Jun 26, 2018
by Elizabeth Slater
The problem with having a business especially a small business is that there is never enough time to do everything that you need (never mind want) to do. There is always something or someone who needs your attention. Of course, customers come first. Additionally, because most of you didn’t get into business to create marketing plans, that’s one task that usually gets put to the bottom of the list. However, creating a simple marketing plan that you can easily follow will make your life easier.
First, you need to do some research and assess your market to find out how your business is doing when compared to other businesses in your industry. Are your running neck and neck, or doing better or worse than your competitors? If you are doing better than them, then congratulate yourself. Do you know why you are doing better? If you do, then do more of it so you can make the gap even wider. If you don’t know why you are more successful than your competitors, ask your customers why they choose to shop with you. Find out what you are doing right. If you want them to really think about it, give them a small incentive (a coupon for 10% off their next purchase) or (unless you are a coffee shop) a $5.00 gift card to a coffee place.
Meanwhile, if you are not as successful as your competitors discover what they are doing that makes them more successful and emulate those things.
The next step is to create some goals for your business. Make these goals achievable, though not so simple that they can be easily achieved. You want to have to stretch a little to make reaching the goal a positive and uplifting experience. If you want to increase sales, set goals to raise sales over the next few months. Tell your employees about the goals and ask for their input about how these goals can be met. When employees are part of the planning they are more likely to buy into the plan because they helped create it and your chances of reaching your goals and substantially increased.
Offer employees a reward if the goals are met. The reward can be, but doesn’t have to be monetary. Studies have shown that complimenting employees on their abilities or achievements is equally as important.
The important part is having plans, as you can’t reach your goals without creating the tactics to help you reach those goals. For example, my goal is to win the state lottery (an admirable goal, I think). My plan is to buy a ticket. If I don’t buy a ticket there is not a snowballs chance of me winning the lottery. It doesn’t matter how many times I write down that I would like to win the lottery, it’s just not going to happen.
As you are putting your goals and plans into action it may be time to do a quick SWOT analysis of your business. Take four pieces of paper and write a single word at the top of each. The four words for the different pieces of paper are Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT). Starting with the sheet marked Strengths, write down all your strengths, those of the business and anyone else involved in the business.
Do the same with the page marked Weaknesses. Be brutally honest.
Then move on to Opportunities, what are the opportunities that you may be missing or you have not taken advantage of and finish up with theThreats page, what threats are there in the smaller and bigger pictures that might make a difference to your business?
Ask your employees or anyone else involved or knowledgeable about the business to do the same. Ask them to be honest in their appraisals. If something comes up that you are not expecting or don’t agree with, ask them why they put this down. Keep an open mind while doing this.
Don’t think you have to spend weeks doing this just do what you can. Give yourself a deadline though for when you will have the work done. When you have finished you will have a much clearer understanding of your business, which will allow you to see what is ticking along well and what needs to be improved. Once you know what’s what, it’s not so daunting to get started on making changes.
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