Unbox your new promotional plan!It’s a new year and time to do new things. Something that might be new for you is an annual promotion plan. Often, we hear terms thrown about like “marketing plan” and “promotional plan” but what we’re not aware of is that they aren’t the same thing.

Marketing plans consist of analyzing competitors in our market segment, determining where we stand in our market, and then identifying our target market and setting objectives to reach that market.

When create our marketing plan, part of the work is determining the marketing mix. It consists of product mix, product pricing, packaging and finally a promotional plan. Before we can create our promotional plan, we must determine products, pricing and packaging.

Products: Not all widget makers have to offer the same things. When creating your product mix stick to those that you feel passionate about. Stick to what you are comfortable with selling. You don’t have to be all things to all people. Just because company ABC Giganticorp sells Widgets with springs attached doesn’t mean you have to.

Pricing: With your product line chosen, you need to price them so you make a profit. It doesn’t do you any good to be in business if you aren’t making a profit. So, choose the pricing that allows you to do that, priced for your target market, in a way that is consistent and makes sense. You can make all the promotions in the world, but if your prices are too high, too low, or worse: confusing, you risk losing clients and devaluing your brand.

Packaging: If you package your own products, it’s critical that you do so that is consistent with your brand identity. All things you hand to customers, vendors, prospective clients should be consistent in the look and feel.

Now that we have those three elements lined up, it’s time to think about promotion!

People often ask me, should we be on TV, in the newspaper, on the radio, or send newsletters. Then they ask about holding sales, or special prices, or host an event to be effective. The answer is always the same, it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.

If you are trying to make the phone ring during your slow time, then hosting an event or running a special sale may be effective. If you are trying to build up those Christmas sales, then sending out an email newsletter or direct mail in October or November might be a good idea.

When planning a promotion, don’t fall into the trap of what to do rather then why to do it. Remember, Form follows Function. Media and promotions needs to be based on What needs to be accomplished.

12 Steps to a Spectacular Promotional Plan

Budget 8 percent of your projected annual gross sales for marketing. If your gross sales for the year are $200,000 then your marketing budget should be $16,000.

Perform a SWOT analysis (google it for examples) to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and finally threats.

Chart last years monthly sales. For many companies, the last 4 months of the year are when most money is made. Use this graph to figure out when you need to invest in bringing in more business.

If you have employees, you need to keep them busy during the slow months. Therefore, you need to make efforts towards keeping them busy during those times.

Please, be sure to invest in some kind of financial management software. Whether it’s tried and true Quickbooks, Microsoft’s Accounting, or even Quicken for Small Business you need to have something. Use this software to create sales projections.

Next, write out your growth objectives. You don’t want to make the mistake of attracting more business then you can handle.

Determine the best ways to accomplish your objectives. Decide if email blasts, price incentives, direct marketing campaigns, or whatever is your best route to success.

Build your clients loyalty by staying in contact with them. Also, reward them for referrals! Your current client base is your strongest asset.

Attract new clients by networking, co-marketing, prospecting with mailing lists or hosting events.

Use emotion in your promotional pieces.

Whatever you do, be consistent with your brand and identity.

Review what worked last year and what didn’t. Doing the same wrong thing over and over expecting different results is an exercise in futility.

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