In the movie Field of Dreams, a rookie corn farmer named Ray hears a voice telling him to build a baseball diamond in the middle of his corn field. He isn’t sure why the voice is telling him to do it, but he does it anyway—much to the amusement of the fellow farmers in his county. Many times, new business owners are a lot like Ray. They have a dream about starting a business. But like building that baseball diamond, they have no idea where to start. They heard a small voice in their head and built their business, but how do they get their spectators—or customers—to find them? That is why they need a marketing plan.
If you build it, they will come
When you started your business, you more than likely created a business plan. Most investors are going to want to see your business plan. A business plan is a document setting out a business’s future objectives and strategies for achieving them. (If you don’t have a business plan yet, I recommend that you contact Cynthia Finkenbinder, CPA at www.alphaomega-acct.biz.) Like a business plan, a marketing plan describes the current market position of a business, some market research, and the strategy for promoting and selling the business’s products or services for a set period of time.
The main strategy of your marketing plan is to increase the visibility of your business. Identify where you are and where you would like to be. The marketing plan should clarify what steps or actions will be taken to achieve the plan goals. For example, a marketing plan might have a strategy to increase the organization’s market share by 10%. The plan would then outline the goals that must be achieved in order to reach the 10% increase in market share.
In our last article, Brands Hurt Livestock, but Help Businesses (CannaBiz Journal, Oct. 2017, pp. 33–35), we talked about the need to consider your mission, vision, and value statements when defining your brand. These statements should also be the foundation of your marketing plan, because they should drive not only how you run your business, but also how you advertise your products and services. While you’re at it, include just what makes your business and products and services unique from those of your competition.
Executed properly, a marketing plan will prioritize making your business more visible in the crowded marketplace. The goal is to get customers in your door. In the cannabis industry this is even more important because there are likely special rules and regulations that must be considered, depending on the jurisdiction you do business in. Different states have limitations on how and where you can market your business. Get your marketing right, and your customers will come to you to buy your products and services.
Ease their pain
The whole reason for being in business is to help meet the needs of your customers, and your marketing plan will help you identify your target market or ideal client. Remember high school Journalism class where your teacher told you that every good article covered the five W’s: who, what, where, when, and why? Your marketing plan should answer those questions, too. Who is your customer? What problem does your product or service solve? What keeps them awake at night? Where do they find information about solving their problem and where do they go for a solution? When does your client need your service? Why should they pick you above the rest? Therefore, it is important to know what makes your business unique.
Identifying your target market or ideal customer is an important business tool. Imagine if you were instructed to go to a crowded shopping mall and sell your widget to anyone who needed it. How would you begin figuring out who that was? Who out of the hundreds of people passing through the stores really needs your widget? It may not be very easy to determine. It looks like you might have a long day ahead of you.
But, if you were told at the beginning of the day that the people who needed your widget the most were wearing blue t-shirts red ball caps, you would find it much easier to find them and sell them your widgets. All the sudden you can focus on them and make targeted sales. That doesn’t mean that people who aren’t wearing a blue shirt and red cap won’t buy from you, but you can focus the largest part of your efforts on the ones who need your widget the most.
Also consider that every business has three types of customers. New customers, existing customers, and past customers. Each one requires a different tactic to reach. So, in your marketing plan, think about how you are going to attract new customers, connect with current customers and engage your past customers. Knowing how you are going to target these customer types can help you with your marketing budget. Studies show that getting a new customer can be as much as nine times as expensive as keeping existing ones.
Go the distance
Always keep your marketing plan accessible and top of your mind as you run your business. Rely on your staff to tell you what is working and what is not working as you sell your products and services. Your marketing provider should help you track how you are progressing. A marketing plan should be a fluid document: Be ready to make changes and tweaks as necessary.
Now it is time to actually plan ahead. Take out the calendar and figure out what to promote and when. Think of what products are popular at what times of the year. Do you need to prepare for any special days? How about 420? 710?
A few years ago, my wife and I went to an Irish pub for Saint Patrick’s Day lunch. When we got seated, began to notice that everyone in the joint was in a foul mood. Crashing and cursing was coming from the kitchen and the wait staff looked like they were having the worst day ever. The few customers who were in the place looked less than festive on what was typically a joyous holiday. When our waitress came by our table, we asked what was wrong. She replied that the owner of the pub hadn’t ordered corned beef ahead of time and couldn’t get any from his suppliers. Worse yet, they were also out of beer! Now, St. Paddy’s day happens on the same day every March—the 17th. The business owner should have known to get his orders in to the vendors on time. But somehow the "luck of the Irish" was not with him and he forgot that the holiday was approaching. Don’t make this mistake! 420 happens the same day every year. If you forget to have enough product on hand, you are going to be in big trouble.
Design328 has a list of marketing days to help you brainstorm when to promote your business, based on common events and holidays. Send an email to email@example.com to request a copy. We can also help you create the perfect Visibility Strategy—that’s what we call our marketing plans—or your business.
If you carefully build and follow your marketing plan; if you take your time, plan ahead and actually do what you planned; your visibility will increase. Just like people came to the baseball diamond in the middle of an Iowa corn field, if you execute your marketing plan, people will come. They will spend their money at your store. They will tell their friends to come too. Oh, … people will come. They will most definitely come!
Jared Finkenbinder, Visibility Architect, is the owner of Design328.com in Northern Colorado. Experienced in all aspects of Branding and Marketing—both online and offline; as well as Project Management, Graphic Design and Communication; Jared has been helping businesses be more visible with projects spanning 30 years, by designing targeted Visibility Strategies that help small business owners attract more prospects, connect effortlessly with clients, and engage in more business. Contact Jared at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit our website http://design328.com. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/design328/.