Marketing Starts with Your Customers
Your marketing plan details how you intend to meet your customers’ needs and communicate the benefits of your products or services to them. When deciding about market positioning, pricing, promotions, and sales, your customers should be top of mind.
The Four Key Components of Your Marketing Plan
Your marketing plan should describe how you will segment your target market, how you will position your products or services compared to your competition, what your pricing strategy will be, and how you will effectively reach and influence your customers.
The Target Market
Your target market is a group of customers that has a similar need for a product or service, money to purchase the product or service, and willingness and ability to buy it.
To identify your target market and best serve your market, you need to:
- Know your customers
- Understand what your customers need
- Why they buy
Because you have limited time, resources, and budget, you cannot be everything to everyone. To effectively reach customers, you need to segment your target market into one primary market on which you focus most of your energy, and at most three secondary markets.
You can segment your target market along four key characteristics:
Demographic: Who are your customers? Include information such as:
- Family size
- Family life cycle (single, married with or without kids, divorced)
Geographic: Where do they live? Include information such as:
- Their country
- Region (e.g. Pacific, Prairies, Eastern seaboard)
- City and density (rural, urban)
Psychographic: Why do they buy? Include information such as:
- Social class (lower, middle, upper)
- Lifestyle (leisure activities, exotic vacationer, saver)
- Personality (gregarious, authoritarian, ambitious)
Behaviouristic: How do they buy? Include information such as:
- The purchase occasion (household staples, special occasion)
- Benefits sought (quality, service, economy)
- Consumption status (from never having tried your product to frequent purchaser)
- Usage frequency (light, medium, heavy)
- Loyalty (not, somewhat, devout)
- Readiness to buy (unaware, aware, informed, interested, desirous, intending to buy)
- Attitude toward product (enthusiastic, positive, indifferent, negative, hostile)
Positioning is the image of your product or service that you create in the mind of your target market. Your goal is to create an image that’s unique, differentiated, and definable in the mind of your customers. To position your product or service, try the following:
It’s essential that all of your marketing materials support the position or image you are creating.
It’s also critical for you to know your present and potential competitors, both direct and indirect. Examine their strengths and weaknesses relative to yours. This will help you select a market position that provides a competitive advantage.
Your overall position should emphasize those factors that your customers value most, and those which make you stand out from your competition.
Price is a very important factor in your marketing plan. It affects:
Key factors that affect your pricing strategy include:
- Perceived value of your product
- How much it cost to develop
- Broader economic trends
- Level of market demand
- Income range of target market
Promotion is the activity of informing, persuading, and influencing your customers’ purchase decisions.
The type and scope of promotional activities that you need to undertake will depend on what the promotion is intended to do, and what goals and objectives you want to achieve. There are four general types of promotional activities:
- Sales promotion
- Publicity and Public Relations
- Personal Selling