It’s no great secret that planning is the first key to success in any business venture. A sound marketing plan helps you define who you are and how you differ from the Ottawa competition. It outlines both the benefits your product offers and exactly how you will better your competitors.

It could be said that the marketing plan is to business as the navigational chart is to sailing. No sailor worth his salt would set sail without first charting a course and similarly, no entrepreneur should embark on a business venture without a well-planned marketing strategy. It is the most fundamental and important of business tools, yet starting up a business without a written marketing strategy remains the single greatest mistake made by most entrepreneurs.

Keep in mind that setting out anywhere without knowing where you’re going or how you’re going to get there, is a mistake for which you will almost certainly pay later. What’s more, with a winning marketing plan, you’ll be in control of your Ottawa business in a way that no “sailing-by-the-seat-of-your-pants” version of marketing could ever achieve. Time and effort invested now will pay off handsomely in the future.

  1. Find the time to plan – Time, or the lack of it, is the most common reason given for not devising a marketing strategy. While it’s true that to come up with a properly constructed plan you’ll need time to step back from the daily grind, in the long term, you’ll reap the benefits. Devising a plan is a time-consuming, intense, intellectual exercise involving thought, debate, discussion and analysis, but it’s also time well invested.
  2. Define your business goals – Define what success looks like for you. What is it that you’re business hopes to achieve and by when? You have to keep it simple. You don’t want 20 different goals; keep it to one, two or three. You want to know by when you’re measuring success and what those goals absolutely look like. This is most important step as it is not only the foundation of your marketing plan, but it also means you’re committing yourself to a written down marketing plan which is essential to success.
  3. Research what your customers want – You must identify your potential customers and learn what it is they want. Know that, as a rule, clients will choose product benefits over product features. Try looking through their eyes. Compare the benefits of your product or service to those of other Ottawa industry leaders and determine which of yours are unique. At this point, you should be able to match your benefits to clients and produce a marketing menu that clearly outlines what you have to offer and to whom you are offering it.
  4. Identify your advantages and disadvantages – Once you have determined the special character of your Ottawa business, you can map the niche that only you are able to serve. Rather than challenging competitors directly, you can now stake out your own territory, positioning your product or service to deliver their unique benefits and meet the unfulfilled need you have identified in your target customers.

The advertising tools, techniques and strategies, such as branding, web design and social media marketing, you will use to attract new customers are a vitally important part of your marketing plan. An effective advertising strategy starts with a thorough knowledge of the competition and your position relative to the competition, and uses this knowledge to differentiate your company in the Ottawa marketplace. Continue to Part 2.