Above the noise: a well-defined marketing plan can set you apart from the competition.Writing a marketing plan often falls into the same category as going for a regular physical or getting your car tuned up--you know you should do it, but you always seem to find excuses for putting it off. However, just like the physical and tune-up, it is time well spent that will pay off in the long run.
Think about the advice you give to clients regarding their businesses. You urge them to carefully monitor their costs and profit margins and stay on top of their ratios. The result? Improved profitability and a more secure financial future.
1. Contraction of it is.
2. Contraction of it has. See Usage Note at its.
it's it is or it has
it's be ~have the same with a marketing plan. Your investment of time and effort can yield much greater benefits than a haphazard hap·haz·ard
Dependent upon or characterized by mere chance. See Synonyms at chance.
Mere chance; fortuity.
By chance; casually. approach to marketing your services.
If you're you're
Contraction of you are.
you're you are
you're be daunted daunt
tr.v. daunt·ed, daunt·ing, daunts
To abate the courage of; discourage. See Synonyms at dismay.
[Middle English daunten, from Old French danter, from Latin by the thought of writing a long, voluminous plan, change your mantra mantra (măn`trə, mŭn–), in Hinduism and Buddhism, mystic words used in ritual and meditation. A mantra is believed to be the sound form of reality, having the power to bring into being the reality it represents. and think--streamlined. Create a straightforward document that maps out your marketing efforts.
Treat your plan as a living document that you can reshape as your business changes, or as you identify key trends that may provide opportunities. By setting goals in your marketing plan, you can assess how you are doing and readjust re·ad·just
tr.v. re·ad·just·ed, re·ad·just·ing, re·ad·justs
To adjust or arrange again.
re your goals and plan as the months unfold unfold - inline .
A marketing plan can help you get more bang for your marketing buck Buck
after murder of his master, leads wolf pack. [Am. Lit.: The Call of the Wild]
See : Dogs
clever and temerarious dog perseveres in the Klondike. [Am. Lit.: Call of the Wild]
See : Resourcefulness by keeping you focused on your goals.
STEP 1: SITUATIONAL ANALYSIS
Like a balance sheet, a situational analysis provides a picture of where your business stands today. However, you'll you'll
Contraction of you will.
you'll you will or you shall
you'll will also look at where your business has come from and where your want to go. This is the foundation for the rest of your marketing plan.
Determining your professional strengths and weaknesses. What activities in your work do you enjoy? What do you dread? It's important to be honest because most people excel at Verb 1. excel at - be good at; "She shines at math"
excel, surpass, stand out - distinguish oneself; "She excelled in math" the things they enjoy. You'll give yourself a strategic advantage by concentrating your efforts in the areas in which your enjoyment--and attention--give you the greatest opportunity for success.
Next, take a look at your business and the marketplace. What does your organization do best? Consider, too, your firm's marketing strengths and weaknesses. Are you great at creating relationships, but not so good at keeping up with them over the long-term Long-term
Three or more years. In the context of accounting, more than 1 year.
1. Of or relating to a gain or loss in the value of a security that has been held over a specific length of time. Compare short-term. ? Maybe you are skilled at planning wonderful campaigns, but not so good at executing them.
Take a look at your firm's financial data. What can you learn from your billing patterns and the types of services clients have been buying--and when? Don't be afraid to ask your clients about what they buy and why.
Next, compare your services against your competition. Look for overlaps of service and--most important--market niches that are ripe for a new service that you might be able to supply.
Finally, broaden your research to encompass your entire profession. Talk with referral sources, clients, colleagues and competitors about professional trends and hot issues, new market opportunities and technology that relate to your area of work.
STEP 2: PROBLEMS AND OPPORTUNITIES
As you begin to study the elements that make up your situational analysis, you'll start identifying problems in your business that need solving--as well as opportunities that your competitors are missing.
STEP 3: TARGET MARKETS
This is the "who" of your plan. Who is going to buy your services? Think broadly across geography, industries, company sizes, etc. Divide your group into primary and secondary markets, and don't forget your current clients and referral sources. Segmenting your markets can help you decide how to best divide your marketing dollars to have the optimal impact.
STEP 4: MARKETING OBJECTIVES
This is the "what" of your plan and can include both sales and marketing goals. Set both short-term Short-term
Any investments with a maturity of one year or less.
1. Of or relating to a gain or loss on the value of an asset that has been held less than a specified period of time. goals (a year or less) and long-term goals Long-term goals
Financial goals expected to be accomplished in five years or longer. .
Set your targets for the year, with interim quarterly objectives, then project out. Be specific about dollar amounts and time frame.
For example, one marketing objective might be to gross $600,000 in tax consulting services Noun 1. consulting service - service provided by a professional advisor (e.g., a lawyer or doctor or CPA etc.)
service - work done by one person or group that benefits another; "budget separately for goods and services" over the next year, 10 percent of which will come from companies involved in new technology, an underdeveloped un·der·de·vel·oped
Not adequately or normally developed; immature. niche you discovered during your situational analysis.
To set realistic sales goals, examine your financial picture and do some massaging. First, look at the trends in your overall sales and your sales by service line for the past few years and project them out for your proposed time period. Reconcile the two numbers to come up with a top-line forecast figure.
Second, do a bottom-up prediction by factoring in the amount of business you and your colleagues realistically plan to pull in, projections of repeat business and estimates of other new income. Consider talking with clients about their projections regarding the extent of your services they intend to use.
Your top-down and bottom-up numbers are likely to differ, but you can find a common ground by considering market factors, trends, your company's future plans, etc. Your business sense will guide you in finding an appropriate final sales goal.
As far as marketing goals, you're looking at what you want the target markets to do. Outline the actions you want them to take.
You might want current customers to consider purchasing particular services, such as financial services The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject.
Please [ improve this article] or discuss the issue on the talk page. if you're branching into this arena. Your marketing objective might be to have 10 current clients become full-service clients, where they are turning to you for tax compliance, financial planning Financial planning
Evaluating the investing and financing options available to a firm. Planning includes attempting to make optimal decisions, projecting the consequences of these decisions for the firm in the form of a financial plan, and then comparing future performance against or insurance advice.
STEP 5: MARKETING STRATEGIES
Don't jump the gun yet and begin picking the specific tactics you'll use to get new business. First, look at the marketing process from a broad strategic perspective. One of your strategies might be educating your clients about the full scope of your services; perhaps you need to increase your visibility among a specific target market; or maybe you'll need to provide services that are located more conveniently to your target audiences.
STEP 6: COMMUNICATION POINTS
The key messages you want to get out about your business should be modified slightly for various target audiences, but the essence of the message should be consistent throughout all your communication. Your goal is to create a memorable and positive position for your services in the minds of your target audiences.
STEP 7: TACTICAL MARKETING TOOLS
The range of marketing tools is broad including advertising, direct mail, relationship building, media relations, publicity, corporate identity and website. Be prepared to make detailed plans for each tactic and include your objectives.
For example, if you select direct mail as a tactic, set your objectives for its use. What do you want to achieve with it?
STEP 8: BUDGET AND TIMETABLE
Your marketing budget and timetable go hand in hand. If you plan your marketing activities to take advantage of special rates, low-season discounts, etc., your budget will stretch farther. For instance, find out if display listings in the Yellow Pages cost less if reserved in advance.
Also consider how you can make the most impact. You might be better off investing time in writing articles that are published in local newspapers than advertising in those same newspapers. Positioning yourself as an expert and purchasing reprints can be among your best spent and least expensive marketing dollars.
Advertising on the other hand can be ineffective unless you have a sizable siz·a·ble also size·a·ble
Of considerable size; fairly large.
siza·ble·ness n. budget that will help you secure the frequency you need to get meaningful market saturation In economics, "market saturation" is a term used to describe a situation in which a product has become diffused (distributed) within a market; the actual level of saturation can depend on consumer purchasing power; as well as competition, prices, and technology. . A small print ad once or twice a year in the newspaper is a waste of money unless it is placed in a special section that your target market refers to often.
STEP 9: EXECUTION
Share the wealth. Everyone in your firm should have a role to play in executing the plan, which helps to build accountability among your colleagues and staff.
STEP 10: EVALUATION AND MEASUREMENT
Don't leave out this crucial step out. You'll learn much from an examination of what worked and what didn't. As much as possible, your measurements should be quantitative, but some will, of necessity, be qualitative.
Ongoing assessment helps to make your plan a living document--not something that sits on the shelf gathering dust.
RELATED ARTICLE: Marketing Tips for the Small CPA (Computer Press Association, Landing, NJ) An earlier membership organization founded in 1983 that promoted excellence in computer journalism. Its annual awards honored outstanding examples in print, broadcast and electronic media. The CPA disbanded in 2000. Firm
Here are some strategies to help small CPA firms stretch their marketing dollars farther.
Keep your gold mine clean. Is your firm's database clean and up to date with prospective clients, current and former clients and referral sources? Do you have e-mail addresses See Internet address.
e-mail address - electronic mail address for everyone? If you're on a board, are your board colleagues in the database?
Little things can make for big business. Focus on the small things that can add up to better marketing. For example, if you have an attention-getting, yet professional logo with a memorable tag line tag line also tag·line
1. An ending line, as in a play or joke, that makes a point.
2. An often repeated phrase associated with an individual, organization, or commercial product; a slogan.
Noun 1. , it can make an impression that sticks. And don't forget to use it as an e-mail signature. An investment in the small things can add up to a better bottom line.
Calendar time for marketing strategy. Making time to plan your marketing is a priority. Put it on your calendar and commit to it. Don't wait for that "free" time that never comes. Smaller blocks of time on a consistent basis can make a tremendous difference.
Leverage your marketing. "Milk" your marketing to get the most out of it. When you're asked to give a talk, turn it into an article. When your article is printed, reprint reprint An individually bound copy of an article in a journal or science communication it and send it to your mailing list An automated e-mail system on the Internet, which is maintained by subject matter. There are thousands of such lists that reach millions of individuals and businesses. New users generally subscribe by sending an e-mail with the word "subscribe" in it and subsequently receive all new .
Make your website work for you. Your website is a tremendous way to differentiate yourself. Make it look professional and keep it fresh. Regularly add new material and let your clients, prospective clients and referral sources know by e-mailing them with a link.
Think like your own "secret shopper Secret shopper can refer to:
Measure your marketing. Develop a simple system to track where your referrals and business comes from and review it a few times each year. For example, does one source give you fewer referrals, but they more often turn into business? This information can tell you where you'll get the most from your marketing.
Sharon Berman is principal of Berbay Corp., a marketing consultancy and a member of CalCPA's Marketing Committee. You can reach her at email@example.com.