By Lisa Whitley Coleman
Originally posted in Marketing Tales From the Trenches
It’s impossible to know where you’re going without a plan – you have to map out your marketing and business development goals. Marketing tasks are costly and all of us want the biggest bang for our buck.
At CM2 Marketing, we assist companies in creating comprehensive business development plans and even provide complimentary business development analyses to help kick start a formal plan. So, our company has been doing this for other businesses for a few months now. The other day, my partner, Valerie Macalik, and I were talking and we realized we have neglected to formalize our own business development plan.
Wow! See? Even seasoned marketers sometimes skip steps in our zealousness to get to work. So, this got me thinking about the process and I wanted to share the major steps.
- Set a budget. Write down a dollar amount that you will devote to your marketing and business development activities. Ideally, this amount should be expressed as a percentage of revenue and you should plan on it increasing exponentially each year as your company grows.
- Make a list of past marketing/business development activities. Make notes about what worked and why, what didn’t work and why, which activities you enjoyed and which activities you want to work on improving your skill set.
- Describe your ideal client. Is it a company or an individual? If it’s a company, what size is it? What is it’s industry? Who is the perfect contact for this company? If it’s an individual, how old are they? What is their income range? What needs do they have?
- Set your target goal(s) and the time period in which they need to be met. For example, you might state that you want 10 new clients by the end of the quarter or the year. Or you might want to expand the work you provide for five clients to include additional offerings or services. Or you might want to form 10 new contacts within a particular industry.
- Make a list of desired marketing/business development activities. Start putting pricing information with these activities and determine which ones are most effective and affordable. These activities should include your planned distribution channels to reach your targets.
- Make a list of marketing activities you enjoy. Are you a writer? Do you enjoy being a media source? Do you like giving presentations? Do you enjoy serving on boards? Is your passion in volunteering?
- Determine your company’s or practice’s strengths. Make a list.
- Honestly analyze what you do better than your competitors. When we ask this of our clients, invariably, they mention that they offer a better price. It stands to reason, that everyone is NOT offering a better price. Sure, boutiques and solo attorneys are more competitively priced than their big firm counterparts. That’s a given. What distinguishes you from other soloists, boutique firms, small business or companies? Define this distinction accurately and your marketing efforts become 10 times easier.
- Describe the pain you solve for your customers and clients. This is the answer to the “So What” question from your clients/customers. You can have the best widget in the world or be the best attorney/accountant/architect/etc. in town but you must have a clear understanding of how this matters to your target audience.
- Write a comparison of your company/firm/practice to an animal or a car. Yes, it sounds silly but hear me out. When you decide which car or animal your business most truly resembles, it forms a clear picture for your marketing efforts. Are you a Jaguar – fast and efficient? Or are you a Volvo – safe and reliable. Form a clear picture.
For more information on creating business development plans, contact email@example.com. Oh, and in case, you are wondering, Valerie and I are completing these steps as you read this post, even if you read it a year from today. That’s because your business development plan should constantly be a work in progress – always evolving. Revisit your business plan on at least a semi-annual basis to make necessary adjustments to your target audiences, tactics (the process through which you will connect with people at the companies you want to represent) and goals. Happy planning!
Lisa Whitley Coleman is the CEO of CM2 Marketing, a Texas-based marketing consulting company. She is a former award-winning professional journalist with more than 10 years’ experience in marketing. Lisa founded CM2 Marketing to provide marketing services for attorneys and firms who would like marketing assistance without the expense of hiring a full-time marketing professional.