How to Write a Really Simple Business Plan

True success in any venture needs planning. Successful planning needs a clear direction with actionable steps towards getting there, a way to measure success, and a separate plan for dealing with setbacks. Fear of the unknown, the need for deep soul searching, and of course the ever elusive resource of time, can all conspire keep you from even starting to plan – especially when it comes to your business. Enter the Really Simple Business Plan The ideas for the questions below were first developed by one of my favorite bloggers, Sonia Simone, as part of her free email course Internet Marketing for Smart People. I strongly encourage you to sign up for her course, which consists of 20 emails sent to your Inbox over a period of 2-months where she lays out multiple approaches to Internet Marketing. The nine questions presented here are adapted from Sonia’s original post, and I have used them in presentations and when working with clients to get them in planning mode. 1. Who are the right customers, where are they now, and how will they find us? This question should focus on your target market. If you say “everybody” is your customer then I think you are lying. There are very specific people your business will appeal to, which you can determine by doing a little research and analysis. Free tools like Google Ad Words, Talkwalker and Meltwater can reveal so much about your potential customers. Another great way to zero in on the right targets: identify your successful competitors, see who they are going after and then analyze that for your offerings. These...
Internet Marketing Basics: What Great Marketers Do

Internet Marketing Basics: What Great Marketers Do

It’s All About Building Influence. One thing you will learn about me, I like simple answers. I think the most complex problems are solved by the easy answer, so here goes. An Internet Marketer uses the Internet to influence people’s decisions to do things. Notice I didn’t say “buy stuff.” There’s a reason for that. If you are an Internet Marketer for a not-for-profit trying to get awareness of an issue, or an Internet Marketer for a political candidate trying to get votes, or an Internet Marketer for a company trying to build brand awareness (the list could go on) you are not necessarily “selling” a product, rather you are trying to influence opinion. By influencing opinion you can do anything. Now Wikipedia and other sites will give you laundry lists of the things that Internet Marketers do. If you are interested in that click the link above. At the end of the day, however, Internet Marketing is really about getting people interested in what you are doing online. If you want to know what great marketers do, read on. What Great Marketers Do. Seth Godin is a great marketer. He has written a dozen best-selling books on marketing including the bluntly titled “All Marketers Are Liars” (Seth recently re-released this book with the work “Liars” crossed out, and the words “Story Tellers” written in). In a 2005 article Seth wrote his own laundry list of what every good marketer knows. He said things like: Anticipated, personal and relevant advertising always does better than unsolicited junk. Making promises and keeping them is a great way to build a brand....
Olympic Gold Medal Winning Marketing Strategies (Part 3): Unique Selling Proposition Gymnastics

Olympic Gold Medal Winning Marketing Strategies (Part 3): Unique Selling Proposition Gymnastics

All marketers can learn from the dedication, preparation and planning of Olympic athletes. This series of posts will put that into perspective when preparing your own marketing plan. Here are the posts in this 5-part series: Part 1 – Competitive Analysis: remove obstacles like a judo champion Part 2- Targeting Markets: zeroing in on your customer like an olympic archer Part 3 – Unique Selling Propositions: what artistic gymnastics teach you about execution Part 4 – Goals, Metrics and Timelines: the triathlon of marketing measurement Part 5- Tactics: sink or swim by using the right Olympic strokes Today, we talk about crafting a Unique Selling Proposition that will dazzle your customers like an Olympic gymnast. People are nuts about Olympic gymnastics. An entire episode of Seinfeld even centered around Jerry dating a former Romanian Olympic gymnast and the amazing things she used to do on a balance beam. The routines these champions put together are one-of-a-kind routines pulling together the best of their bag of tricks. Unique Selling Propositions: Making it Look As Easy As The Olympic Balance Beam When defining what makes your product and organization a winner precision and creativity make the difference between a statement that matters and one that falls flat on the mat. The unique selling proposition (“USP”) started as a mechanism for understanding successful advertising in the 1940’s. Today it helps marketers to differentiate their products and company from the competition. It guides the internal efforts of the marketer and can even help to perfect marketing copy as it gives you a clear understanding of what unique benefits your product gives to the...
Olympic Gold Medal Marketing Strategies (Part 2): Hitting the Target Market

Olympic Gold Medal Marketing Strategies (Part 2): Hitting the Target Market

All marketers can learn from the dedication, preparation and planning of Olympic athletes. This series of posts will put that into perspective when preparing your own marketing plan. Here are the posts in this 5-part series: Part 1 – Competitive Analysis: remove obstacles like a judo champion Part 2- Targeting Markets: zeroing in on your customer like an olympic archer Part 3 – Unique Selling Propositions: what artistic gymnastics teach you about execution Part 4 – Goals, Metrics and Timelines: the triathlon of marketing measurement Part 5- Tactics: sink or swim by using the right Olympic strokes Today, we talk about hitting your target market like an olympic archer. According to the official 2012 Olympics website, archers have it easy. Their objective is simple: “shoot arrows as close to the center of the target as possible.” If you are following the advice in this post and started your strategy planning by analyzing your competition then you are halfway to the target already. Now it’s time to hit the bullseye. Defining your “target market” answers one question: who should “buy” from you. If you’ve been following this blog at all then you know I use the term “buy” to refer to any kind of influence you as the marketer exert on your audience. Many marketers make assumptions about their target market that sometimes miss the mark. So how do you know whether your target is correct? 7-Factors to Identify Your Target Customers There are 7-factors used to identify target customers. If you already have a customer base, these 7-factors will provide you with a clearer picture of your proposed market...