You now know what a marketing plan is and isn't. Let's get started!
A marketing plan is your map to results. To use any map, you first must figure out where you are now and where you want to go.
Where are you now?
? Define who you are as a firm. How have you positioned your firm in the marketplace? Are you the âniceâ accountants? Are you the âdifferentâ accountants?
? What is your firm's business philosophy or approach to business?
? What are your firm's competitive strengths and weaknesses?
? What differentiates you from your competitors?
Use these guidelines to write several paragraphs that summarize where your firm is now. Be sure to double check to see if this is how âoutsidersâ see your firm. Ask a few vendors, clients, or business referral sources to get objective feedback of your firm's reputation. If you think you are the âtigerâ of accounting firms and your market sees you as a âsheep,â it's important to know that.
Where do you want to go?
? What do you want to accomplish? (Increase new business? Expand existing business? Both?)
? Do you have name recognition in your market? If not, do you want to build that?
? Do you know who you want to market to? Do you want to target a new market (high net-worth individuals, for example)?
As Microsoft says, âWhere do you want to go today?â A fun part of the marketing plan process is opening your mind to the limitless possibilities open to you. Working in your firm works well to get your tunnel vision working. Stopping for this process will get you back in touch with what you âdreamedâ your firm could be many years ago. As you proceed through this phase of plan development, outline your goals and be very specific. To hit a target, you need to know exactly what you are aiming at. It's nice to say you want to be the most well-known firm in your city, but a more specific goal could be for you to be the most well-known firm to your target market, for example. And while you should dream big, it's good to be realistic â the best marketing plan in the world won't double new business in one year. Once you have your goals on paper, it's time to prioritize them. Put them in order from greatest importance.
Next time, we'll talk about your âtargetâ and how to hit it as well as the best way to implement your marketing plan.
This is the second part of a three-part article that will help you develop a great marketing plan that really gets results. This article series is meant to be a hands-on tool that allows you to immediately impact your firm.