Business Planning Start-Up Guide
Operations and marketing go hand-in-hand when it comes to generating sales and making profits. Marketing is a separate component from operations because it needs a single focus. By combining good customer service with marketing you create a synergistic effect which improve the bottom line.
The Marketing Mix
If you’ve read much about marketing you’ve heard of the 4 Ps. The Ps compose element one should address to sell and satisfy one’s customer. Earlier in this guide, I made a distinction between Advertising and Marketing. I said tat advertising is marketing but marketing isn’t advertising. So, what’s difference? I look around a little and believe the article on About.com, Marketing vs. Advertising: What’s the Difference? (web 20 Feb 2014) answers that question quite well, as follow:
“Advertising – The paid, public, non-personal announcement of a persuasive message by an identified sponsor; the non-personal presentation or promotion by a firm of its products to its existing and potential customers.”
“Marketing – The systematic planning, implementation and control of a mix of business activities intended to bring together buyers and sellers for the mutually advantageous exchange or transfer of products.”
Many consider the marketing mix to be composed of the 4-Ps, but some go as far as to list 7-Ps. The 4-Ps include: price, place, product, and promotion. Bot, others include people, processes, and the physical environment. I prefer simplicity over the complicated, but I do like the 7-Ps; because, it makes us think a little more about how we satisfy the customer – see the graphic (click for a larger view).
In the Exploration and Pre Start-Up phases, we looked at our customer, branding, marketing, adverting, and eluded to the other Ps of the Marketing Mix. Like anything, you’ll learn what works and you try different things and you’ll continue to define and refine your marketing efforts and its underlying plan and goals. During the launch, you started developing actual methods to bring in customers or buyers. But that’s just the beginning.
By considering the 7-Ps, we’ll remind ourselves how each item affects the customer experience. It doesn’t hurt to simply list them and address them (check out the graphic).
- Product or service – it includes such things as design, value, packaging, quality, and other elements.
- Price – what is our pricing strategy? Will it be a loss leader, will be price a quality product to the high-end buyer?
- Place – Where is your store? Retain, internet, wholesale, multi-channel, and more.
- Promotion – This is where advertising is, but it also includes how we’ll “promote it,” such as free gifts, 30 day free trials, and more.
- People – I mentioned Starbucks in Phase-II, but they know that part of their experience is the people who interact with the customers. They train them well, provide good benefits.
- Processes – Starbucks combines the product, it’s people, with the process. McDonalds is a master of creating processes. As customers, we get what we expect if the process is part of the marketing mix – and we return because of it.
- Physical Environment – I hate to keep talking about Starbucks, but their physical environment is really part of their product. From the design to the music, they do it well.
As I said, advertising isn’t marketing. But, most of us understand that start ups need to advertise to get the word out… to acquire new customers.
Advertising expands upon those deliberate marketing and branding plans. However, unless you are doing brand advertising, you should be advertising to generate sales. By the way, few if any small business should be advertising for brand awareness. That’s for the big guys.
This is what you must do. Consider all the prior steps and plan your marketing and advertising schedule. I suggest taking a desk calendar (the 2-foot by 3-foot type) or perhaps a year at a glance calendar. Whether its physical or digital, make the schedule linear so you’ll consider holidays, busy seasons, and special events. Plan it for a year out and then refine it as you go. November is a great time to plan for you new calendar year.
Though you plan annually, the details should be quarterly. That is, take your annual plan and make action items. Plan on December 1st for the new year’s first quarter. Do this again on March 1st for the second quarter and so on. Be deliberate and don’t be caught by surprises or market by the seat of your pants. Develop good habits now and strive for excellence. Refine on a monthly basis.
Remember, a business is a competition and someone is always trying to take your market share from you – just as you are doing right now (unless you are the only one doing what your’re doing).
Plan annually, schedule quarterly, refine it monthly, and write it down and consult it weekly.
Part of your marketing plan should include public relations. Strive to be a good neighbor and community member and let others know it. If you want to be family friendly, make public relations (PR) a part of your plan. If you’re “green” then stress it.
Public relations should include a brand element and have a deliberate end or purpose. Though some PR costs money it can also be free if the media or neighbors gets interested in your “purpose.” Let them now by reaching out or contacting them when you do events or support things. Once they start to see your work and commitment they’ll be more likely help and help get the word out.
I know you have a lot to do, but for some companies PR is almost priceless.