First, happy new year! We are all filled with hope at the beginning of a brand new year. Many of us have set goals for ourselves and our businesses. I suspect that a lot of businesses out there have set a goal for growth–either revenue or customers/users. How are you planning on growing your business? This is a question I ask a lot when I talk to small business owners/start ups. The answer I get all too often is “Oh its going to go viral!” Well, I have news for you, just because you built it doesn’t mean they will come. Yes, you/yourproduct(service) is as awesome as they come, no doubt but you have to have a plan to TELL people how fantastic you/yourproduct(service) is (are). Here is where a great marketing plan comes in.
This will be the first in a series of posts analyzing key elements of a marketing plan. We will begin by understanding the importance of market research and analysis. This is a key step in any marketing plan. By researching and analyzing current market conditions you can determine where your company stands in the market place. This allows you to identify growth opportunities that exist. The following are key aspects:
Industry Analysis: Understanding your industry is key to ensuring you have positioned your business to be as competitive as possible. The analysis consists of understanding the complexities of a particular industry and the market forces that impact it. When doing research you should take into account economic, political and market factors that may impact the industry. A good tool to use in analyzing the data is Porter’s Five Forces (more on this in a later post).
Competitor Analysis: It is important that you understand your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses. This will allow you to understand your company’s position in the market place. A great tool is competitor profiling. By having deep knowledge of your rivals you will be able to determine gaps in the market. Furthermore, you will be able to add value where the need exists. Another advantage is that you will be better able to predict your competitors moves in the market and be prepared to meet the challenge.
Market Segmentation: This allows you to determine the sub-set of the market that is more likely to buy/use your product/service. Understanding your primary target market is key in being able to effectively reach potential new customers/users. Segments are homogeneous and exhibit common needs. They have the same worldview and respond similarly to market stimulation. By knowing this information you can better customize your company’s value proposition, position statement and messaging. Remember you can’t be all things to all people. Knowing what segments of the market are already open to your message will save you invaluable time and a lot of money.
Ok, lets stop there for now. I hope you have found this information helpful. In coming posts, we will explore different aspects of the marketing plan, including consumer analysis, product strategy, internal company analysis and much, much more.
Please leave a comment or question. You can also find me on twitter @npersona.