Marketing is by far my favorite subject in business. It consumes a large majority of my time but I don't typically think of it as marketing. I can easily say, I LOVE MARKETING! I guess when I think about it from an outsider's perspective, it may not seem that fun, but when you think about what it truly is, I think you may learn to love it too.
Throughout my career, I have had so much fun testing out marketing concepts to see which ones worked for my own business and which ones didn't. As you may know, I LOVE the analysis process. I am fascinated to see which aspects of marketing bring in which type of clients because let's face it marketing is all about people and you all know how much I love people!
So when we start to think about developing a business plan, first we have to understand what the purpose of a business plan is. In business, we use marketing to reach our sales goals. So, before developing your marketing plan, it is important to understand your sales goals. If you are not sure what your goals are read our blog on Sales Goals, or go back to your Vision Casting exercise in your toolbox.
Once you know your goals you can start to develop your plan. Before we begin let's look at a few reminders about marketing.
A key factor to remember is that marketing and advertising are not the same things. Advertising is the way that you get your message to the consumer. Marking is the message that you want to communicate. To learn more read our article on marketing vs. advertising.
Successful marketing is vital to the longevity of your business. When done with well-thought-out intent it should inform, build awareness and create initial introductions to your services. You will use marketing as a leveraging tool to aid in locating and establishing healthy and sustainable relationships. It is important to recognize that proper marketing starts the process of relationship building and will ultimately lead to the sales you desire.
So, to answer our initial question, "Is a marketing plan right for you?" Yes, it is right for all business owners. The depth of which you will put into it is based on the marketing concept you choose.
Let's take a look at some of the common marketing concepts and what they focus on.
The main idea for the price-driven focus is that your services will be competitively priced. Meaning you may be one of the lower-priced in your market and this makes your services attractive to those who care more about the budget than they do about anything else.
This may not be your first choice for marketing, but if you are just starting out and don't have any other proof that you can do a great job, no portfolio or reviews, you may need to start out here and make adjustments to your plan as you build your business.
You can start at the lower price point and after just 1 season, you may have enough experience to build your portfolio and reviews to a point that you can raise your prices and begin to create a different marketing concept that fits your long-term goals better.
The service-driven model focuses on the services that you provide and how they stand out or differentiate from the other service providers in your area. Otherwise, known as your competition.
This again can be a challenge to develop this type of marketing plan when you are new to your industry. It can be hard to figure out what exactly makes you different. One way to start can be looking at the "stereotype" and see how you may be the opposite and emphasize that aspect.
For myself, I looked at the stereotypical planner and picked out traits that did not fit my personality or my business model. The traits I chose to focus on were; being bossy, the center of attention, and likes to spend other people's money. I created a plan that ensured I was not seen in this way. I focused on being a team and keeping people on a budget and even saving them thousands of dollars on their event.
To me, this type of concept initially seems like to common idea of a car salesman focus. This is based on the idea that the client would not normally buy from you without consistent sales tactics.
WSU doesn't endorse this type of marketing. There are several reasons we discourage it. First, it requires a massive amount of advertising dollars spent to acquire a client. The second is that if you need to market your business this way, you have not put in the time to figure out what your message is which will result in poor service.
This doesn't mean you can't spend money on advertising. We just encourage you to do it in a more focused and centered manner.
Wedding State University and The Queen of Weddings focuses and encourage our members to be quality-focused as well. We want your certification to mean something when people see it. We stand out above the rest and strive to achieve to become the best at what we do. For this reason, we want you to view what you do and the services you provide to be better than your competition.
You already have proven that you are dedicated beyond your competition and that the quality and value you intend to provide are above the rest. So, even if you don't have much experience, boast about your education and your dedication to your field. Show that your company provides the foundation to achieve and sustain that competitive advantage.
When I started out, I didn't have much that I could boast about. I didn't have experience, I didn't have any certifications, and I really didn't know about marketing. So, I looked at the only thing I did have, I actually cared. I used that to focus on my clients, and I dedicated myself and my service to being there for them. I let them know that I would be there to listen, lend a helping hand and be that go-to person when they needed a shoulder. People purchased my service in the beginning because they knew I cared. Not because I was the top in my field or had an amazing portfolio, simply because when I met with them, they felt better. Did you know, to this day, it is one of the comments I hear most, and it makes me feel good to know that I mattered to them and to their wedding.
I use the fact that I care about people to build my marketing plan. I show I care in everything I do. I care about my team, I care about my client, I care about my vendors, and I care about the members at WSU. This is why I spend so much time and effort trying to create quality, usable and practical content for you. I want you to learn from all of my trial and error and use it to help propel you into a successful future.
I encourage you to use all the resources on this site to help you create a well-thought-out marketing plan that clearly communicates what you care about the most. To quote my all-time favorite King of Sales and Marketing, the late Zig Ziglar, "You can get what you want if you just help enough people get what they want." I used this principle throughout my marking and it has worked tremendously. How can you apply this phrase to your business?
To start your marking plan, first, make a list of all your assets and strengths. If you struggle to figure out your list of assets and strengths, try using the DISC Test or the Color Code. These personality tests will help you start by discovering your inner talents.
Next figure out the type of client you are looking for and how you can highlight and communicate these strengths in a way that will be a benefit to them. Often in marking and sales, we focus on our strengths and the services we provide but forget to connect the benefit to the client. All too often we assume they will be able to draw the connection, but many times they see it as just you bragging. So, make sure when you feature your strengths in your services, that they fully understand how that will be an asset to their wedding or event.
To read more about developing your focus check out our blog post on developing your focus.
Developing your marking plan will help you stay focused on the people you want to serve as well as how you want to serve them. It keeps your service constant and will help you get better and more refined referrals. Advertising will get you in front of people to give you the opportunity to sell to people. The importance of a good marketing plan is that it helps you get the clients you want and when talking about longevity to your career, it makes all the difference.
If you need further help or want step-by-step instructions to sign up for one of our marketing workshops where we will help you develop and plan the implantation of your marketing strategy. Sign up for a workshop today by emailing us to get on the waitlist. [email protected].
Until then, here are a few great resources I use often:
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