After Sports Magazines Give Cover-Story Attention To The Outstanding Performance Your Business Plan Should Include a Marketing Plan

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Your Business Plan Should Include a Marketing Plan

Carol is a real estate agent and a partner in a start-up real estate agency. The other partner was a broker, so he took on that part of the responsibility, while Carroll did the bookkeeping and advertising.

They don’t call their ads marketing, and in fact, they don’t.

Her method is simple. Every time they checked out, she looked at how much money was in the account and figured out where she could spend it on advertising.

Can you see what’s going on here? She forgot about rent, electricity, phone bills and other mundane expenses. So when these bills came in, she panicked. Sometimes, she pays a late fee if the next delivery isn’t coming soon enough.

Carol doesn’t know how much she should spend on advertising — because she and her partner don’t have a marketing plan.

They were both realtors for a few years but were working for other people and didn’t really care much where the clients and customers came from. So they don’t know which media should be used to advertise. They don’t know if people are responding to their newspaper ad, a page in a family magazine, or just a sign posted on their property for sale.

Best of all, Carol is easily led by salesmen who deliver the latest and greatest ideas. She buys everything from signed ads in support of school campaigns to restaurant placemat ads to shopping cart ads. If there is enough money in the checking account, she will buy it.

She should start with the budget. While no small business person can predict how many dollars will go into a business in a given month, they can make an estimate based on past history. After removing all the fixed costs like rent, they can see what percentage is left for other things. Part of that should be allocated to marketing.

But the entire percentage shouldn’t be automatically spent every month. Instead, they need to plan ahead for quarterly and annual promotions that take a larger share of marketing dollars and set aside a portion of revenue each month to cover these recurring expenses. For example, if they mail a quarterly newsletter, they need to budget for printing and postage. That fee needs to be factored in if they buy gifts during the holidays and mail them to customers.

If you are operating a real estate, annual costs such as replenishing yard signs, etc. also need to be factored into the plan.

The next step, once they see how many dollars they have to spend on media marketing, is to think carefully about where those dollars should be spent for maximum impact.

Most businesses will benefit from a web presence – a small expense once the website is up and running. But even $10 or $20 a month for hosting can add up over the course of a year, so it needs to be factored into the budget.

All businesses should know who their customers are so they can choose the right placements to attract more customers. No amount of advertising in the “senior age” will build your business if it turns out that most of your customers are between the ages of 25 and 35!

Next, businesses need to take note and document where customers are coming from. In some businesses, such as real estate or insurance, it’s easy to ask directly. In others, you have no such opportunity. But a coupon or special offer with a promo code will reveal the truth. If you’ve placed a valuable coupon in a publication and not many people have accepted it, you know it’s the wrong ad placement!

It’s also important to test ad sizes. Sometimes smaller ads are just as engaging as larger ones. But sometimes not. If you’re on a tight budget, running a large ad every two to three weeks may be more effective than a small ad every week. Test results are key.

The second part of creating a marketing plan is the marketing copy itself. Good copywriting takes time. Seasonal promotions need to be planned ahead of time and items to be printed or ordered before they are needed.

Small business owners are often intimidated by writing ad copy. They’re not good at it, so put it off until the last minute. I’ve seen real estate agents trying to write copy to advertise a house when the deadline is only 15 minutes away.

I believe no ads are better than bad ads – because poor copy gives the impression of unprofessional, sloppy business. What a waste of money.

With a marketing plan in front of you, you can take enough time for yourself, or take some quiet time to write the copy yourself, or explain your needs and hand your background material to a copywriter who will write for you. You do this.

Yes, copywriting is another expense in your marketing budget, but if you’re really bad at it and don’t want to spend time building your skills, professional copywriting services are adding to your income.

Oh – you might be wondering what happened to Carol.

When her partner finally realized what she was doing and why they were broke, they got into a big fight. Their parting was not very pleasant, and in fact ended up in court.

A marketing plan that both parties agreed to would have saved them a lot of pain and a lot of money.

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