Pet Age

Marketing 101

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Plans help us identify where we want to go and how to get there.  Most businesses know that having a business plan is important, but what about a marketing plan? 

The marketing plan usually gets forgotten, but in actuality, it is one of the most important components. So, I will take this time to give you some tips on what it takes to make a good marketing plan that you can use for your store.

First, find a place that is quiet where you cannot be disturbed. You will want to make sure that you can devote at least an hour to this important business planning activity.

For the initial section, you should give a descriptive overview of your store and identify your mission statement.  The mission statement typically describes the overall goal of your business.

Are you looking to be the top selling natural pet store in your area?  Maybe you are looking to be the top fish supplier on the east coast.

Next, you will want to complete a SWOT analysis. A SWOT analysis is comprised of identifying your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

This section is very important, because it allows you to really get an understanding for your business and its environment.  Be sure to take time to really think each part through. And, don’t forget to list your competitors in the threat section.

Next, you will want to identify who your current customers are and who your future customers could be.  The latter is important because this is potential new business.

Now, you will want to identify how your store is positioned.

Are you a full-service pet store that carries everything? Maybe you are a store that solely focuses on all-natural foods and treats.

There is no right or wrong answer here, but being able to identify your position is key.  You will then want to list the brands/products that you carry and ask, “do they support your position?” Are there brands that don’t fit your position and are there brands that you don’t carry that you should be?

Now, identify your marketing strategy.  This is my favorite part.

What types of marketing activities will it take to retain your customers today and what do you have to do to gain those future target customers?  Be sure to get an idea of the cost for each of the marketing activities so you can mark down an estimated budget for each.

Also, a good practice here is to list the types of activities your competitors engage in.  This does not mean that you should be doing the same activities, but it does allow you to analyze each to see if it makes sense for your business.

Now, it is time to put together an implementation timeline for these activities. Don’t try to be overly ambitious. Entrepreneurs are very busy people. You have done all of this hard work putting together a great plan, be sure to plan accordingly so that you can reap the rewards.

One essential thing you will want to do prioritize the activities that will get you the biggest bang for your buck.  You will also want to target easy activities that can make an easy, positive impact on your business.

And lastly, measure and reassess your plan constantly. I recommend at least once a year.  Your marketplace will always change and you will want to make sure you are in tune to your store’s environment. Also, new competitors and new types of marketing could emerge.

Next month, I will talk about some good, basic marketing ideas that your store can implement relatively quick and cheap.

Jessica Farina is  the director of marketing for Phillips Pet Food & Supplies, a large pet food and supply distributor. Her undergraduate degree is in business with a minor in psychology and her MBA is from DeSales University with a concentration in marketing. Jessica also teaches marketing classes at a local community college.

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