How's Your Marketing Plan?

by Tom Egelhoff

1. Have you designed your month by month marketing plan for the next 12 months?
Which months are your slow months? Save now advertise then. Holiday specials?

2. What types of promotions did you do last year? Were they successful?
What will you do differently this year? Be careful here. Just because something worked once doesn't guarantee it will work again. For example, a "Desert Storm" promotion will probably not be as successful in 1998 as it was in 1990.

3. How do you plan to increase your business to cover the 2%-5% inflation factor?
If your business does $250,000 per year; 3% inflation will cost you $7,500 before you make a single sale.

4. Will you be introducing any new products and/or services this year?
If yes, how will you market those products and services? A few dollars worth of testing can save thousands later. Make sure others like the products or service as much as you do.

5. Do you plan any changes in your store or office design? If so, how and why?
Why don't blind people bump into their furniture? They know where it all is because they never move it. Are your customers blind to your best merchandise because it's been in one spot too long?

6. How do you plan on reaching new customers in the coming year?
Even if the population in your part of the world isn't growing, its still changing daily. People move, die change jobs, etc. All these things affect your customer base. If customers don't hear from you they will forget you. If I'm new in town how will I find you?

7. Do you have more or less competition than you had a year ago?
If more, how do you plan to offset the business you will lose to these competitors? New or expanding businesses will aggressively go after your customers. They will spend a lot of money advertising, giving business away, how will you combat this?

8. If you could change anything about your business what would it be?
Take a good look at your business from the customers point of view. How do you look?

9. Do you feel your employees give good customer service?
Can customer service be improved? Do your employees sell? Do they need training?

10. Have you written down and reviewed your business goals for the coming year?
What will you do first?

11. Have you reviewed your business plan and revised it for the coming year?
Are there new tax laws? New employment laws? New regulations that will increase expenses? Workers Comp? OSHA?

12. How, when and where will you find the time and financing to make your marketing plan happen?
What sacrifices are you willing to make? This is the hard part. To make time to do all this you must give up something else. If you don't feel you can give up the time right now you can always wait till the business fails. Then you'll have plenty of time.

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