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Most small business owners know the importance of a business plan, which outlines your company’s course for success. One crucial element of that plan is your marketing strategy.
Because this strategy is buried in the larger business plan, many small business owners may not give marketing the time, research and attention it deserves, assuming that they know their customer base and how to reach them. But an in-depth and detailed approach to laying out your marketing strategy can reveal opportunities from a new audience or potential product line, pitfalls in pricing, competition reaction, and potential reach.
At its most basic, a marketing plan describes who your customers are, where they get information and how you are going to reach them. Robert J. Thomas, a marketing professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, said the development of a marketing plan requires that you complete four specific tasks:
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1. Develop a very clear and focused insight into why a potential customer would use your business. More specifically, figure out the core need that your product or service will meet. Is it to help your customers get through the day more easily? Do their job more efficiently? Be respected and admired by friends? Your offering should be designed to solve client problems or meet customer needs better than the competition can.
2. Identify your target customers. There are numerous potential customers in most markets, but to succeed faster and better, a small business must study the market and determine the characteristics of its best target customers. The target customer should be described in detail. Create an avatar, or fictional person, who has all of your target-customer attributes, and examine what that person would say, do, feel and think in the course of a day.
3. Identify competitors that would also want your target customers. No matter how original your product or service may be, there is always competition for your target customer’s dollar. Small businesses seldom take the time to study their competitors in depth, or determine competition that may be outside their industry but just as capable of luring the customer away. Preparing to know who that is, what their core competitive advantage is and how they will respond to your offering (price cuts, increased communication, etc.) will help you figure out strategies to combat such losses.
4. Write down your brand-positioning statement for your target customers. Ultimately, your brand and what it symbolizes for customers will be your strongest competitive advantage. You should be able to write down a simple declarative sentence of how you will meet customer needs and beat the competition. The best positioning statements are those that are single-minded and focus on solving a problem for the customer in a way that promotes the best value.
Now that you know the elements of the plan, you need to figure out how you are going to reach that target customer. Aside from traditional print and broadcast media, here are three tech-driven marketing channels that many of today’s business owners utilize.
Social media has become an essential part of businesses’ marketing plans because every type of customer is on some type of platform, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and other networks. Small business owners can feel overwhelmed at the possibilities but should focus on the ones that can benefit them the most.
Brett Farmiloe, founder of internet marketing company Markitors, advised companies that are just getting started in social media to get to know their customers and what platforms they are using.
“Figure out where your customers are spending their time, and set up shop on those platforms,” Farmiloe told Business News Daily. “Develop a content strategy that can be executed internally, [and then] execute your strategy by posting branded content on your selected platforms. While all three steps are key, the biggest one is really determining if your customers are on these platforms.”
Though email marketing may not be a new concept like social media marketing, it is an effective and popular choice for many small business owners. Companies can implement email-marketing techniques in a number of ways, including using newsletters, promotional campaigns and transactional emails. Companies such as MailChimp and Constant Contact make it easy for companies to manage their email campaigns.
Farmiloe noted that companies can set their email marketing efforts apart by segmenting their markets.
“Not all subscribers want to receive the same blast,” Farmiloe said. “Smart email marketers take the time to segment subscribers at the outset, and then continue to segment based on subscriber activity. Through segmentation, companies reduce the amount of unsubscribes, increase open rates and, most importantly, increase the amount of actions taken from an email send.”
For help choosing an email marketing service, visit Business News Daily’s buyer’s guide.
The popularity of smartphones and tablets has helped change the way companies target their customers. Since people have the devices with them nearly all the time, companies are looking to implement strategies that reach customers on their gadgets.
“Mobile marketing is interruptive,” Farmiloe said. “It’s because of this power that a marketer has to let the consumer determine how and when to receive marketing material. That’s why almost every app comes with the option to turn notifications on or off. The consumer has to hold the power with mobile marketing.”
Creating a well-defined list of budgets, goals and action items, with appropriate personnel assigned to each item, can help make your marketing plan a reality. Think about how much you’re willing to spend, the kind of outcomes you expect, and the necessary tasks to achieve those outcomes. A Cleverism article advised defining three key elements to help you measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts:
How you want to track your campaign
The channels you want to track
The metrics you want to measure
Starting a Thrift Store – Sample Business Plan Template
1. Study about thrift Stores
It wouldn’t make any sense if you decided to start a thrift store and you embarked on it without a thorough foundation. One of those foundational steps would be taking research seriously. This means that you have got to study all that you could possibly lay your hands on about thrift stores. You would be able to find loads of information on the internet. All you have to do is to type in questions you want answers about in the various search engines like; Google and plenty other types. You may also consider spreading your tentacles by reading books on thrift store business and how they are run.
2. See Things for Yourself
If you already know someone who is in this line of business, then you may want to ask that you go to the shop to see things for yourself. This would be a good step that would help you make an informed decision about your thrift store business in the long run. Here you would have the opportunity to get hands- on details on how much you can start your thrift store with, where you can look to start the business in, the kind of people who may be in need of this used merchandise and so on.
3. Register Your Business
If you are looking to start this business on a small note for now, then you may want to consider just starting from the comfort of your house. On the other hand, if you are starting away from home and hope to get some used merchandise from the corporate world, then it is important that you go to the chamber of commerce or the corporate affairs authority office in your country to get all paper work done. If your thrift store would be run for and by a charity, rather than for profit, the licensing and registration may differ. In this case, the store may need to obtain a license which is called a sales privilege license as the case may be in some countries.
4. Get a Space
As earlier mentioned, you can look to start from your house. That means you would need to create a space in a room or the front space in your house. If on the other hand you choose to start away from home then a shop would do. Look for a big enough space that can accommodate the type of merchandize you want to deal in. Do ensure that your thrift store is located in a busy place where you can attract all and sundry.
5. Decide On the Type of Merchandize
Most thrift stores can offer all sorts of products from baby clothing, adult clothing, to baby furniture. A thrift store could specialize on one kind of products- which may be used electronics for instance. It is important that you look around you to know what your competitors are dealing in before drawing an inference from that and then arriving at what to sell.
6. Seek For Merchandise
Set up your store fixtures. You would need to build cabinets, in- store signage to direct consumers in and around the store, and shelving units. You would also need some office computers, printers, telephones, et al.
7. Hire Employees
There is a great secret about hiring employees in this line of business. The big secret is that you can ask your family members or partner to help run things at the store. On the other hand, if you do not have anyone like that, then you can look to hire a manager, and attendants. As the business grows, then you can look to hire more people.
8. Advertise Your Business
This is one of the most important steps that would determine how profitable your business would be. You may consider printing and distributing fliers for your dollar store. You can also run adverts on the internet through the various social media platforms. Banners, as well as a grand opening would be one of the best ways to making a lasting marketing impression.
9. Seek New Ways
You would also be required to continue to seek new ways to run your dollar store better. It is for that reason that you keep tabs with trends and new products that could possibly catch the fancy of most consumers.
Do note that those who have successful business like the dollar store have continued to work hard and smart. You have got to also look for ways to do this effectively so that there would be positive results.