Planning, the Key to Success - Page 2
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Industry Insights – every business' chief executive needs to have a firm grasp of what's new and important in their industry. What do the trends seem to dictate? Are you/your company positioned to take advantage of a trend? Is the current trend a fad or a new benchmark for success? What is the current "window or opportunity" in your industry? How quickly has history proven to close the window? What direction should you take?
Market Analysis – What are customers buying? Remember a basic rule of selling is to provide what the buyer wants, not what you have to sell? When is the last time you had a candid conversation with your clients about what they are currently buying, how much longer will they need it and what do they plan to need in the near future? Understanding buying trends is essential to developing your plan. You need to become a student of your market. Learn where to look for consistently good information about the ins and outs of your products or services and the markets receptivity to them.
Competitive Analysis – This is one of the most important and least studied sections of a business plan. If I had a dollar for every time I have heard a client say "I never worry about competition" or "I only focus on what I do, not what they do", I would be a rich man. Underestimating your competition is foolish. Your clients are being barraged by your competition. Every competitor wants your clients or customers. You need to develop a healthy paranoia about outside influence on your clients and a method to ward them off.
It's also very wise and pro-active to know exactly how your competition goes to market. In that way you can craft a plan that gives you an edge. Think about the corporate behemoths like McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King. Are they really that different? Are their stores that dissimilar? Is their food offering by in large the same? Their marketing teams study each other to no end in an effort to offer a new taste sensation to the public. As soon as they do, they know that they have a very short period of time before their competitors offer something the same of similar.
Marketing Plan – When I ask almost everyone I work with, "do you have a marketing plan", they respond, "yes, in my head". The old saying goes, if it's in your head it's an idea, if it's on paper, it's a plan. It's not enough to know that you want to sell more or add clients or be more productive with your marketing time. You have to place the steps in the proper order and be sure that you have the proper people doing the essential pieces. For example, if you own and run a small firm or business it's probably become evident to you that you are the primary rainmaker. People like to know that the person they are buying from can deliver on the promises they make. You will need to analyze your time and determine how best to spend it, and then determine which tasks could be delegated to others so that you can spend more time marketing.
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