This is the third blog post from a new series to help you create a business plan in 2014 using our guide The 2014 Photo Business Plan Workbook. Download it here.
Step #3: Create a Marketing Plan
Even the word “marketing plan” can sound daunting, but don’t get tripped up on terminology. Still, if you expect to see an increase in clients/sales, you need to have a plan for specific marketing tactics that will drive this improvement. Our recommendation is to simply think about different marketing categories, and then list out activities that you could do in each.
Your marketing plan shouldn’t be designed to treat each potential customer as if they were in the same state of readiness to hire you or buy something from you. For example, some people who walk into the Gap are just passing the time; a smaller percentage want to try on a pair of jeans; and an even smaller percentage walk into the store ready to buy.
When you consider different activities in each category, think about how people in different parts of the “sales cycle” would react. You might do a low cost postcard campaign to blanket as many photo buyers and editors. And you might do a more expensive photo book to send to your top 10 to make a larger impression. You wouldn’t treat the customer who’s just looking for a place to sit down the same as the one who’s ready to buy a pair of jeans. Your marketing efforts should be nuanced.
One-time marketing efforts rarely pay off. You often need multiple campaigns through multiple channels to get on people’s radars and convert them into customers. Increasing your “brand awareness” amongst your potential customers is arguably as important as converting a small percentage of them into paying customers.
Example: Here are a few categories to consider:
- Direct Mail: postcards, books, posters
- Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Google+
- In-person visits
- Events: Trade shows, organized portfolio reviews
- Inbound Tactics: SEO optimization
Once you have some marketing activities defined, create a simple spreadsheet with some estimates of time, cost, and Return on Investment (ROI).
Use your historical data combined with your best estimates to get a general sense of which activities you think will lead to the best results. You can’t work 24 hours a day and the outcome of this comparison should help give you a sense of the activities that are worth your time and marketing budget. Those activities that produce the maximum return (ie. new clients) for every dollar spent, or hour invested, should occupy the bulk of your plan.
Further, don’t consider every decision final. Savvy marketers are always testing ideas. Create a hypothesis, design a test, and give the test enough time to run.
To see an example spreadsheet of what your marketing plan can look like, check out the Workbook: