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Prospecting for new leads has another name – it’s called marketing.  Most sales people cold call because no one ever taught them about marketing. You should create an Annual Marketing Plan for your territory every January.

A marketing plan is made up of a series of marketing programs throughout the year.  A marketing program is quite simple to develop.  Basically it consists of a promotional idea—with a limited time-frame—that is of interest to a subset of your prospect population.

As examples, consider Washington’s Birthday Furniture sales, or Labor Day auto sales.  These two retail events occur every year, and they’re always successful, because they offer cost-savings to consumers who need to buy something.  These promotions have a limited time-frame—to compel the consumer to make a buying decision to achieve the promotion’s savings.  In real world terms, this is a win-win situation.

A series of marketing programs throughout the year—each targeting a subset of your total prospective customer population—will maintain a steady set of sales runs and closed business.

Before you create your annual marketing plan you need to consider:

  • Who is my target market?
  • What is the market need?
  • Can they afford it?
  • How does my product or service differ from competitive products?
  • Why should they buy from me today?
  • What are our unique selling arguments?

Target Market

Who buys your product?  That’s the audience for your marketing plan.  What are their characteristics?  What do they look like?  What magazines do they read?  Where do they hang out after work?  What do you know about them?  You can’t find prospects until you understand where to look.  Once you identify the target market, and understand their buying needs, your marketing plan will be easier to develop.

Market Needs

What are their buying needs, and where do they find their information?  There is an old joke that you can’t sell ice to Eskimos.  Guess what? It’s not a joke, you can’t. You may have a great product, but does someone need it?  If they do, why do they need it?  What are the top three reasons that they need it?  We know why you need to sell it, but does the target audience need to buy it?

Can They Afford to Buy It?

You may have the best product in the world, but it needs to be priced affordably for the target market, or you won’t sell very many of them. If the product isn’t priced properly, you need to talk with the developers to correct the problem, or change the target market to someone that can afford the product or service.  If you can’t fix either of these two issues, pick another product to promote.  This one won’t sell.

How Does Your Product or Service Differ from Competitive Products?

Are their competitive products to ours?  If not great, but that is seldom the case.  If there are not direct competitive products, are there substitute products?  No one is selling oranges, great, how about tangerines?  How does the competitive product work as opposed to our product?  Why is ours better?  Why is theirs better?  Get on the  Internet and do some research, talk to people who own the competitive product to find out what they like and dislike about it.

Why Should They Buy From Me Today?

What compelling reason can you give your target audience to purchase this product from you today?  The product may have “natural buying reasons” based upon external events. For example, a lot of automobiles were sold after Hurricane Sandy because many cars were destroyed by flood water. Tax software is typically sold before April 15th.  If you don’t have a natural buying reason, you need to create one. The easiest way is with a “deadline sale”. That means special prices that change after a specific date.  Introductory offers also work well with a new product or service.

What Are Our Unique Selling Arguments?

Only after you determine all of the above, can you develop your selling argument.  Your selling argument is nothing more that the top reasons that your target audience needs your product, as opposed to your competitor’s product, and why they need to buy it now.  The next item in your Marketing Plan is how you intend to deliver this message.