The Five Questions to Create an Effective Marketing Plan

Questions can be a wonderful tool. In planning, the key to success is knowing the right questions to ask. That certainly applies when it comes to creating a Marketing Plan.

Answering the following questions will provide you with information needed to create the framework for an effective plan.

What is your value message?

This is the first and most important question you can answer. Until you know what value you wish to communicate about your product or service, attracting customers will be unfocused and difficult.

Consider how you’re different from your competitors. Your message must clearly state the value your customer can expect to receive. And remember, there is at least some emotion behind every purchase. Your value message might be that you are timely and accurate (you’re respectful), you offer a lot for a little (I feel smart buying from you), or your ingredients are top quality (I deserve good things).

“Simple fare, freshly and tastefully prepared” is the message a restaurant might want its prospective customers to get. When seeing or hearing the name of the restaurant, this is what we want them to remember. Likewise, when thinking of that kind of food, we want our restaurant to come to mind. The simpler the message, the clearer it will be. The clearer it is stated, the stronger and more “attractive” it becomes. Clarity is the key here.

Of course, you not only have to sell it, you then have to deliver the value.

Who will value what you offer?

Who could benefit from what you offer? Who are these people?

For the restaurant it might be those who enjoy well-prepared fresh food made in classic ways. Something beyond the typical coffee shop, with emphasis on the quality and freshness of the food and the preparation. This is their target market. You want to define your ideal customer or client. The narrower you can get the definition, the more specific your message can be.

When will they be most interested in your offer?

Your ideal customer might not “always” be a good prospect. When someone is looking for an exotic dining experience, you probably won’t be able to get their attention. However, when they’re hungry for a really good hamburger with fresh trimmings you have a good chance of capturing their interest.

Likewise, a collection service will likely be of most interest to a company when it’s having difficulty managing accounts receivable.

Where will you find your target market?

Where do people check when they’re looking for a place to eat? I know my husband and I first think of the kind of food we want. Then we think where we know we can get good food at a fair price. If “simple fare, freshly and tastefully prepared” comes to mind, then we’ll visit the restaurant that has left us with that memory. And we’ll probably take others there as well.

Sometimes we may check the local diner’s club directory or even the yellow pages, so it would probably be a good idea to have our restaurant’s message available in those resources.

By the way, New York City has fantastic food at all price levels with all international cultures represented. Dining in New York can be a true adventure. The boroughs have especially wonderful ethnic choices.

Why should they buy from you?

Your value message must be different from that of your competitor, so you need to define and consider their message before finalizing your own.

I could eat at “Joe’s Eat Here and Get Gas” diner or the “Fast Food Chain”, but I think I’d rather eat at “simple fare, freshly and tastefully prepared”. The great thing about eating is customers need to do it often. Your message must bring them in and then you need to resell them with the food and the experience so they’ll come back again and again.

After you’ve answered the five questions for your business you’ll need a strategy to answer the next question: how will you carry out your Marketing Plan?

Do your market research first and then review your sales, product and financial history. You’ll be armed with solid information that will have you ready to determine the strategy that will assure your success.

Now you’re ready to start your Marketing Plan for the future.