Tips for tradies: What’s in a marketing plan?

Are you a tradesperson wondering how to take your business to the next level? If you own a painting, home decorating or renovation company, taking the time to lay down a cohesive marketing plan should be a top priority.

While your day-to-day business dealings are important to keep your everyday clients pleased, it's important not to lose sight of your business' wider goals in the short and long term. 

Developing a marketing plan takes some time, and you may want to consult with someone who understands business strategy and effective communication techniques – particularly in your industry. 

Doing so can pay off. Making sure your business has a competitive edge to stand out from other trade businesses is essential to keep your bottom line looking good and your clients happy.

A two-step approach

Within your marketing plan (or marketing strategy) there are two key parts. 

First of all, your strategy should lay out your product, price, place and promotional tools. You'll consider a range of factors to come up with an effective marketing strategy to both retain existing clients and grow your business.

Secondly, you'll want a dedicated section that looks at communication methods. There's no point taking an ad hoc approach and choosing the cheapest or easiest communication tools for those reasons alone. Instead, you need to think long and hard about the best way to reach your customers.

A cohesive marketing plan will deal with both strategy and communications. Both elements are interrelated so it's important not to think of either of them in isolation. 

A great strategy

When it comes to writing a great marketing strategy, you need to be aware of what's going on around you.

Have you suffered a drop in business lately? This could be due to a number of factors. It could be the level of service you're providing or it could be a case of competitors in the same sector encroaching on your client base.

In order to develop a clear strategy, you need to have a firm understanding not just of your own business but also that of your competitors. Knowing what other tradespeople are doing in your area and what kind of service they're offering can help you stand out. In order to make your own business shine, you need to be better than the rest, but you can't do this without having a comprehensive understanding of your competitors' activities. 

When it comes to writing a great marketing strategy, you first want to consider your business proposition. To do this, you'll need to consider your service, price, promotional tools and area of business.

You'll need to lay out your competitive advantage, your unique selling proposition, your position in the market compared to other trade businesses, and your goals in the short, medium and long term.

Your positioning is a crucial factor to consider. You can do this by thinking of two key factors and drawing an X and Y axis with an intersection point in the middle.

For instance, on one axis you could have "cheap" to "expensive". On the other axis, you might have "specific services" to "full service business". You'll then need to decide where on this cross-sectional graph your business is currently positioned and where your competitors' sit. 

If you want to change your positioning (for instance, take on more expensive jobs but focus on a particular type of job), you'll need to consider the second part of your strategy: communication.

Clear communication channels

From email newsletters to letterbox flyers and social media, it's essential to establish what communication channels you are going to use to promote your business. 

You'll need to consider the reach (how many people will receive your message), the impact (what people take from your message), and how cost effective it is. 

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