A simple point was made in the book “The Marketing Imagination” by Theodore Levitt that every business should hang on the wall. It’s so simple, yet most businesses spend very little time on the concept. The line reads: “The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer.” While businesses certainly have other purposes, marketing is the most important, because without customers, businesses can’t survive!

There’s much more to marketing than simply handing out your business cards at a chamber of commerce mixer. Most businesses don’t develop a complete marketing plan, yet still produce a logo and marketing materials, and often spend thousands of dollars on advertising that they’re not sure even works.

A marketing plan actually saves businesses money in the long run. It helps the owners focus on who they want to reach and what they want to achieve, maximizing resources in the most effective way to attract new customers.

In the process of developing a strategic marketing plan, many questions are answered, such as: What do you believe the company has done right, and what hasn’t it done right? What sets you apart from your competitors? What type of businesses are you trying to attract? What type of customer has the greatest
positive impact on net revenue?

Exclamation Point Communications first does a complete audit of a business and its marketing efforts. Where have you been, where are you today and where are you going? And audit of the competition is also important because it helps you recognize the challenges of the competition and strategically positioning the company so it has a competitive edge over the competition. Honing in on your strengths and leveraging these in the marketplace is key to the successful growth of the company.

Creating a brand identity
One of the most important steps in developing a strategic marketing plan is creating a brand identity. Marketing plans fall short when marketing activities are underway before this concept has been fully developed. Without this identity, what are you marketing? What is it you want to create in the customer’s mind about your company? What do you stand for? “Positioning” is all in the mind. How do you want to position the company in the mind of your prospects?

Target markets
Once you’ve completed an audit of the company, identified problems and opportunities, and identified target markets, then you can really dig into the specifics of what those markets are, and the best way to reach those audiences. What size business are you marketing to – small, medium or large? What type of businesses? Why do you want to go after them as clients? What is the anticipated revenue from these markets?

Do it now!
We all know the statistics on how many businesses fail, which we believe is largely due to a failure to develop a clear marketing strategy. Do it now while you can. If you’re a new business, this is the best time. If you’re not, it’s not too late. Develop a clear understanding of where you’re going and who you’re trying to reach, and success will follow!