Plan Your Marketing For Effective Promotions

What's your marketing plan look like for this year? If your answer to that question is a vague "I don't know," you've got trouble ahead. If it's "Let's wait and see," that's not good either.

Marketing is too important to guess at. Your marketing plan gives you the road map to ensure that you'll arrive at your destination. And as is often said, "If you don't care where you're going, any road will get you there." What you need is a strategy that considers the needs of your market and provides a year-round plan to meet those needs.

Otherwise, you're throwing good money at bad marketing — responding to the latest "great deal" offered by your newspaper sales rep. (Just remember, your sales rep should be responding to you, not the other way around.) Or you could find yourself panicking at the slightest downturn in service calls and making expensive media buys just to get your name out there.

A marketing plan allows you to maintain a calm, rational approach to anticipate slow times, and keeps you promoting yourself when business is booming. And it's not as hard as you think. In fact, here are four simple steps to get your plan started:

  1. Determine your sales goals in service, upgrades, and replacements.
  2. Assign a percentage of those numbers to your marketing budget. Aggressive contracting companies can spend up to 10%, while slow, mature companies may only spend 2.5%.
  3. Figure your percentage of sales for your "peak" and "off-peak" seasons.
  4. From this, you can quickly determine the "timing" for service, upgrade or replacement promotions for each quarter, using the percentage of sales per item as a basis for your marketing. Now simply spread these dollars over the highest response media.

Sure, this is a simple formula, but it can work wonders when captured in a year-round plan. By giving you a basis for your annual marketing activity, it keeps you from being re-active, when you should be pro-active.

Adams Hudson is president of Hudson, Ink, a marketing firm for contractors. Readers can get a free marketing newsletter by faxing their letterhead with the request to 334/262-1115. You can also call Hudson, Ink at 800/489-9099 for help or visit www.hudsonink.com for many free marketing articles and reports.

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