Today I had coffee with three professionals like myself and the discussion came up around how to market our businesses which was really interesting. Included today was an accountant, a bookkeeper and a financial services operator. Each of our requirements regarding how we attract and find our target audience varied particularly because two of the participants were part of a franchised business.
The discussion of the need for a business plan arose and for the two operators who were a part of a franchise, they didn’t have a huge concern because their parent organisation already had one but for the other participant there was a question around whether or not she needed it.
“What you really need is a marketing plan,” said a franchisee which I thought was interesting. When I explained that absolutely a marketing plan was required, but only as a part of a larger plan it seemed a little confusing. Setting business goals was the primary activity I explained. For example, if she wanted to achieve 500 new customers in the next year that would attract say $20,000 in revenue, she would need to determine what activities would be required to achieve that and also assess the cost of the activity and assumed returns. Some of this might in fact be through marketing activities but to assume all new business would be achieved this way was a little short of the mark.
The group discussed how to network, where to network and what to do if you were someone who found it very difficult approaching prospective clients cold. A franchisee explained her parent company gave her a long list of various marketing activities she could use and the advice in return was to pick an activity that matched her strengths. Direct Marketing and cold calling have a very low strike rate given the number of prospective clients approached.
Networking events were given a positive nod as a way to find advocacy and utilizing people we already knew who could vouch for our expertise.
The other point that came of this morning’s coffee catch up was that many operators do in fact have a business plan that sits in the desk gathering dust unless someone gives them a poke to get going and take action.
I found this very validating since one of my service offerings is to assess the actual results to what was planned and make sure my clients are on track.
It was an interesting topic and i was pleased that I could shed some light on what it means to have a good business plan and have the right business coaching along the way..