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The Marshall Plan: Kick-Start Your Business With a New Marketing Strategy

(February/March 2019) posted on Mon Apr 15, 2019

Pop quiz time: Sharpen your pencils and take stock of your shop’s marketing plan.


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By Marshall Atkinson

By the time you read this, it won’t be news that 2018 is in the can any longer. People won’t still be asking you if your 2019 has gotten off to a good start. And, most likely, you have forgotten some of the “just wait until next year” intentions you made toward the end of 2018. In this industry, at this particular point in time, I’ll bet that many of those ideas centered on marketing.

So it’s time to sit down with a pad of paper and a pen, and strategize on doing some things differently. Get some coffee, too: You want to be alert for this. 

Let’s start with my 20-question marketing exam. It’s an open book test, so feel free to look up your answers. 

2019 Marketing Planning Exam

1. What is your target market? Define what that means in average terms for the size of an order, quantity per order, revenue per order, and frequency of purchase.

2. What similar target market could you pursue that you currently are not? List why.

3. How many potential customers that fit your target market are within one-day ground shipping to your company? What about two-day?

4. What is your main customer’s biggest pain point or challenge that you can solve easily?

5. What is the number one thing that you use as a market differentiator to separate your business from your competition? (Sorry, but “pricing,” “quality,” and 



“customer service” are wrong answers and will be marked accordingly.)

6. What is your “unfair advantage” that only your shop possesses? How are you incorporating that into your marketing strategy?

7. Dig into your orders from 2018. Who were the top 20 percent of your customers by revenue? What did their orders have in common? (Open book test, remember?)

8. Who are your top competitors? What are they doing right? What are they doing wrong?

9. How are you marketing your business currently? What proof do you have that the strategy you’re using brings you business? What can you do better?

10. With your current marketing materials, can your customers take one step to purchase? Meaning, is there a call to action that produces results?

11. List the best thing about your current marketing strategy.

12. List the worst thing about your current marketing strategy.

13. Think about a marketing idea that you tried in 2018 that didn’t work. What was your number one takeaway from that failure?


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