What’s in your marketing plan?

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This article written by RJ Cooper, Contractor Marketing Networks, CEO and Chief Consultant.  RJ has been working in the contracting field since 1986.  In his words, “Remember pagers?  I started 10 years before them.”  

We have all heard the American Express commercial “Whats in your wallet”.  But one thing every contractor should be thinking of is “Whats in your marketing plan”.

  • Begin with a snapshot of your company’s current situation.

Target audiences have become very specialized or segmented. No matter if you are a painter or an HVAC company, positioning your service competitively requires an understanding of your niche market. Not only do you need to describe what you do.  You must also have a clear understanding of what your competitors are offering. You need to show how your service provides a better value.

Make your situation analysis truthful in an overview of your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Strengths and weaknesses refer to characteristics that exist within your business. Opportunities and threats refer to outside factors. To determine your company’s strengths, consider the ways that your service is more unique. What do you offer that gives your business a competitive advantage? Weaknesses, on the other hand, can be anything from operating in a highly saturated market which most contractors are, to lack of experienced staff members.

Next, describe any external opportunities you can capitalize on, such as an expanding market for your service. Don’t forget to include external threats.  Your ability to gain market share so that succeeding sections of your plan can detail the ways you’ll overcome those threats.

Positioning your service involves two steps. First, you need to analyze your services features and how you can make them stand out from your competitors. Second, decide what type of buyer is most likely to purchase your service. What are you selling? Convenience? Quality? Discount pricing? You can’t offer it all. Knowing what your customers want helps you decide what to offer, and that brings us to the next section of your plan.

  • Describe your target audience.

Developing a simple, one-paragraph profile of your prospective customer is your next step. You can describe prospects in terms of demographics—age, sex, family composition, earnings and geographic location.

Ask yourself the following: Are my customers conservative or innovative? Leaders or followers? Timid or aggressive? Traditional or modern? Introverted or extroverted? How often do they purchase what I offer? In what quantity?

No matter who your target audience is, be sure to narrowly define them, because it will be your guide as you plan your media and public relations campaigns.

  • List your marketing goals.

What do you want your marketing plan to achieve? For example, are you hoping for a 20 percent increase in sales of your service per quarter? Write down a short list of goals—and make them measurable so that you’ll know when you’ve achieved them.

Contractors that I work with, when they say I work hard enough now.  I say, well let’s get you the same amount of work, but at higher profits.  Marketing does that, if done right, it can save you time.  If done right, marketing makes you more money and saves you time.

  • Develop the marketing communications strategies and tactics you’ll use.

This section is the heart and soul of your marketing plan. In the previous sections, you outlined what your marketing must accomplish and identified your best prospects; now it’s time to detail the tactics you’ll use to reach these prospects and accomplish your goals.

A good marketing program targets prospects at all stages of your sales cycle. Some marketing tactics, such as many forms of advertising, public relations and direct marketing, are great for reaching cold prospects. Warm prospects—those who’ve previously been exposed to your marketing message and perhaps even met you personally—will respond best to permission-based email, loyalty programs and customer appreciation events, among others. Your hottest prospects are individuals who’ve been exposed to your sales and marketing messages and are ready to close a sale. Generally, interpersonal sales contact (whether in person, by phone, or email) combined with marketing adds the final heat necessary to close sales.

Here at Contractor Marketing Network, we build sales funnels for contractors.  No more wasted evening running out for low ballers or tire kickers.

To complete your tactics section, outline your primary marketing strategies, then include a variety of tactics you’ll use to reach prospects at any point in your sales cycle. For example, you might combine outdoor billboards, print advertising and online local searches to reach cold prospects but use email to contact your warm prospects.

We set up blogs/social posts for our contracting clients, they work 24/7.  They soft sell, give value to your future client and move your client further down the funnel to a new client for you without you spending time.

We give them product or service information as a free study/value guide.  This frees up your time, so you dont have to take a call for well, stupid questions,  I really hated writing that, but when I was in business, I hated those calls of how much for a door, a roof or a deck.  Not even seeing the layout of the yard, job etc.

How long is a string? I felt like asking them.  Anyhow, that is one thing we do with our clients, is make a sales funnel.  To give value to your potential client, but weed out the tire kickers and saving you time as well.  Moving the cold client to a hot client through the clients journey to becoming a customer.

To identify your ideal marketing mix, find out which media your target audience turns to for information on the type of service you sell. Avoid broad-based media—even if it attracts your target audience. The marketing tactics you choose must reach your prospects when they’ll be most receptive to your message and this is on their own time today. Which is why online/social/mobil are so important.

How often do you write a billboard number down?  You let your Android, Iphone or Siri do the work for you.

  • Set your marketing budget.

You’ll need to devote a percentage of projected gross sales to your annual marketing budget. Remember its not a cost, but an investment.  You get your money back, how much is up to the marketing tactics ROI (return on investment)

Of course, when starting a business, this may mean using newly acquired funding, borrowing or self-financing. Just bear this in mind—marketing is absolutely essential to the success of your business. And with so many different kinds of tactics available for reaching out to every conceivable audience niche, there’s a mix to fit even the tightest budget.

As you begin to gather costs for the marketing tactics you outlined in the previous step, you may find you’ve exceeded your budget. Simply go back and adjust your tactics until you have a mix that’s affordable. The key is to never stop marketing, never.  Don’t concern yourself with the more costly tactics until you can afford them.

A good number to work into your estimates is 5% in the overhead department.  $50 per thousand.  You want to do $10,000 a week contantly, you need to spend $500 a week to do it.  Keyword here is constantly, week in week out.  Always be marketing and doing it right does that for you.

Ive taken serveral one and two man companies for $200,000 gross a year to $250,000 with them spending 5% of the gross.  They would spend about $400 a month.  We came up with a plan for around $800 a month.  They did $50,000 more in the same amount of time worked, for $5,000 more spent on marketing.  They netted $45,000 more that year, nothing changed but their marketing focus.

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