ECTION FOUR Building a Business Plan: Marketing Your Company CHAPTER NINE Building a Guerrilla Marketing Plan Learning Objectives Upon completion of this chapter, you will be able to: In a small company, one person s hunch can be enough to launch a new product. In a big company, the same concept is likely to be buried in committee for months. 1 Describe the components of a guerrilla marketing plan and explain the benefits of preparing one. 2 Explain how small businesses can pinpoint their target markets. 3 Explain how to determine customer needs through market research and describe the tools that entrepreneurs use to conduct market research. 4 Describe the guerrilla marketing strategies on which a small business can build a competitive edge in the marketplace. 5 Discuss the four Ps of marketing product, place, price, and promotion and their role in building a successful marketing strategy. Al Ries This may seem simple, but you need to give customers what they want, not what you think they want. If you do this, people will keep coming back. John Ilhan 267
2 268 SECTION 4 BUILDING A BUSINESS PLAN: MARKETING YOUR COMPANY To be effective, a solid business plan must contain both a financial plan and a marketing plan. Like the financial plan, an effective marketing plan includes forecasts and analysis but from a different perspective. Rather than focus on cash flow, net income, and owner s equity, the marketing plan concentrates on a company s target customers, their buying power, and their buying behavior. This chapter is devoted to creating an effective marketing plan, which is an integral part of a total business plan. Before producing computer-generated spreadsheets with financial projections, entrepreneurs must determine what to sell, to whom and how often, on what terms and at what price, and how to get the product or service to the customer. In short, a marketing plan identifies a company s target customers and describes how it will attract and keep them. The process does not have to be complex. Figure 9.1 explains how to build a seven-sentence marketing strategy. 1. Describe the components of a guerrilla marketing plan and explain the benefits of preparing one. Creating a Guerrilla Marketing Plan Marketing is the process of creating and delivering desired goods and services to customers and involves all of the activities associated with winning and retaining loyal customers. The secret to successful marketing is to understand what the company s target customers needs, demands, and wants are before competitors can; to offer them the products and services that will satisfy those needs, demands, and wants; and to provide those customers with quality, service, convenience, and value so that they will keep coming back. The marketing function cuts across the entire organization, affecting every aspect of its operation from finance and production to hiring and purchasing. Marketing strategies are not just for giant corporations competing in international markets; small companies require effective marketing strategies as much as their largest rivals do. A recent study of small businesses by research firm Hurwitz and Associates reports a positive correlation between small companies that are experiencing increases in revenue and their expenditures on marketing. 1 Because their entire marketing budgets may be nothing more than rounding errors on larger competitors marketing budgets, however, small companies must develop creative approaches and invest their marketing dollars wisely to reach their target customers. By developing guerrilla marketing strategies unconventional, low-cost, creative techniques small companies can wring as much or more bang from their marketing bucks as their larger rivals. FIGURE 9.1 A Seven-Sentence Marketing Strategy Source: Adapted from Alan Lautenslager, Write a Creative Marketing Plan in Seven Sentences, Entrepreneur, April 24, 2006, marketingideas/guerrillamarketing columnistallautenslager/article html. Reprinted with permission of Entrepreneur Media, Inc. Building a successful marketing plan does not have to be complex. One marketing expert says that entrepreneurs can create the foundation of a marketing plan with just seven sentences: 1. What is the purpose of your marketing? 2. Who is your target market? 3. What is your niche? 4. What are the benefits and competitive advantage? 5. What is your company s identity? 6. What tactics, strategies, and weapons will you use to carry out your marketing? 7. How much money will you spend on your marketing; in other words, what is your marketing budget? Answering these seven questions will give you an outline of your company s marketing plan. Implementing a successful marketing plan boils down to two essentials: 1. Having a thorough understanding of your target market, including what customers want and expect from your company and its products and services. 2. Identifying the obstacles that stand in your way of satisfying customers (competitors, barriers to entry, outside influences, budgets, knowledge, and others) and eliminating them.
3 CHAPTER 9 BUILDING A GUERRILLA MARKETING PLAN 269 Source: Steve Lichtman and Fitness Together The importance of guerrilla marketing hit Steve Lichtman, owner of four franchised Fitness Together centers near Boston, Massachusetts, after he spent $7,000 to send a direct mail ad to 20,000 households in his trading area. The results were unimpressive; the campaign generated just enough new business to pay for itself. Lichtman realized that we had to be a lot more strategic and creative in the company s marketing efforts. He worked with his management team to define the company s value proposition, One client, one trainer, one goal, which involves offering customized, one-on-one personal training sessions in small, suite-like settings, before looking for the most effective ways to communicate that message to customers. As part of his guerrilla marketing strategy, Lichtman formed a partnership with a local child care provider to provide parents with child care during their workouts. He also began building a network of contacts with local health care providers and has conducted exercise programs for rehab patients. To raise his company s visibility in the local community, Lichtman launched a Lunch and Learn program aimed at local businesses in which he talks with employees about health, nutrition, and exercise. Fitness Together also sends electronic newsletters with articles of interest to customers and potential customers and has a Facebook page. The company s Web site includes testimonials (some in the form of short videos) from satisfied customers. Lichtman s most comprehensive guerrilla marketing tactic was to organize a cooperative advertising program with other Fitness Together franchisees in New England. The franchisees pool their resources to purchase advertising in traditional media such as cable television ads and billboards at discounted prices. 2 A marketing plan focuses the company s attention on the customer and recognizes that satisfying the customer is the foundation of every business. Indeed, the customer is the central player in the cast of every business venture. According to marketing expert Ted Levitt, the primary purpose of a business is not to earn a profit; instead, it is to create and keep a customer. The rest, given reasonable good sense, will take care of itself. 3 Every area of the business must practice putting the customer first in planning and actions. A guerrilla marketing plan should accomplish four objectives: 1. It should pinpoint the target markets the small company will serve. 2. It should determine customer needs, wants, and characteristics through market research.
4 270 SECTION 4 BUILDING A BUSINESS PLAN: MARKETING YOUR COMPANY 3. It should analyze a company s competitive advantages and build an effective, cost-efficient marketing strategy around them. 4. It should help create a marketing mix that meets customer needs and wants. This chapter focuses on building a customer orientation into these four objectives of the small company s marketing plan. Market Diversity: Pinpointing the Target Market 2. Explain how small businesses can pinpoint their target markets. One of the first steps in building a marketing plan is identifying a small company s target market, the group of customers at whom the company aims its products and services. The more a business learns from market research about its local markets, its customers, and their buying habits and preferences, the more precisely it can focus its marketing efforts on the group(s) of prospective and existing customers who are most likely to buy its products or services. Blane Nordahl, Cat Burglar Blane Nordahl, one of the most successful cat burglars ever (until he was caught), specialized in stealing only the finest sterling silver.
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