If you struggle with marketing your business, you’re not alone.  I would guess that a full 97% of companies have no marketing that they have any sense of control over.

The very idea of writing a marketing plan is enough to make your eyes roll and wonder how many pages it will take.  If I told you that you can do it on just 1 page, would that feel better?  In this post, you’re going to get a whole new way of thinking about marketing.

By the time you’ve read every word on this page, a few pennies will start to drop for you.  Do the exercise at the bottom and you’ll have started your marketing plan.  Follow the next 4 posts as well and you’ll have a complete marketing plan for your business that could transform things.

Like the client whose business doubled from £200,000 per month to £400,000 per month, within 12 months, for example.  This is powerful stuff, so pay attention!

Let’s start by giving you a new and easy way to think about marketing…

It turns out that marketing has a lot in common with fishing…

If you fancy a bit of angling, the smart fisherman goes out to catch a specific kind of fish, because he knows that will make his life a lot easier.

With that fish in mind, you need to think about where you’ll find them: in shoals at sea, or in particular pools and lakes, for example.  You’ll also want to know what they’re hungry for – there’s no point trying to catch a white shark with a little worm from your garden!

Next, you want your bait to be the most enticing, mouth-watering tidbit in the water, so that the fish chooses your line and hook, not somebody elses.

Finally, if you really want to catch fish, you’ll put half a dozen lines into the water so that you give yourself an unfair advantage over your competition.

So let’s start writing your marketing plan now, …

Core Marketing Plan Section 1 – Niche

This is the fish you choose to catch for your business, as customers.  The more clearly you target a specific group, the more able you are to talk in their language, about their problems.  This makes it far easier for them to understand you, to relate to your solutions and products.

If you’re a restaurant, are you trying to get people in your local town, or tourists?  Are you after younger people, or the grey pound?  Do you want high income, or students?  All of these factors come into play when you’re thinking about a clear target market.

Remember that for your niche to be worthwhile, you’ve got to be able to find them in worthwhile numbers to make it pay.  There’s no point going after a tiny group of customers with no spending power, for example.

You’ve also got to be sure that there is space for you in the market, too.  The whole point of finding a niche is that you want to specialise and focus on a group that have been a bit neglected.

So for example, if you’re a chiropractor you could specialise in office workers.  Your marketing could talk about the problems of spending so many hours sitting in an uncomfortable chair, using a computer screen.  You could start a blog with tips for being more comfortable around the office.

For the group of people with back pain who work in offices, your marketing would really hit the spot, which is precisely the point.  If they decide they need some help with their back, who will they call?  The specialist for office worker back pain, or the generalist chiropractor?

To complete this section properly, you’ve got to make sure you’ve found a “hungry crowd”.  Here are the four key questions to answer in this part of your plan…

  1. Who are your niche or “chosen fish”?
  2. Where can you find them?
  3. What are they hungry for – what’s their problem or need?
  4. Is there space in the market for you to compete for their business?

Answer these 4 questions clearly and in depth, and you’ve got a powerful start to your marketing plan.  In Part 2 of writing your small business marketing plan, you’ll learn about baiting your hook – that is, how to make your bait the most enticing, tasty meal for the fish you want to catch.  At the end of the series I’ll also be posting a template for your 1 page simple marketing plan.

Oh, and as always, if you’d like some help to get your business on the fast-track, call the number at the top of the page…

9 Comments

  1. ben peters on March 9th, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    good info and gives a good advertising ploy i like the way u have gone about this site and found it opend my mind to some area’s that i over looked in the rush to get up and running. thanks

    Ben peters
    area manager of kent
    BOOKABERLY property maintance and cleaning, ltd



  2. Russell Pearcy on March 9th, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Good analogy and clearly explained. Certainly made some pennies drop!



  3. Paul Simister on March 9th, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    Great stuff Lee but then I liked it when you told me about it.

    It’s confession time.

    I have just been talking to a prospective client and I came out with

    “You can think of marketing like fishing…”



  4. Ian Selby on March 9th, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    Great points Lee – as a keen fisherman it makes marketing seem all the easier



  5. Lee on March 9th, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    Thanks for the feedback guys, great to know it’s useful.

    I shall write the next part in a few days. Please feel free to mention this to your friends if you find it useful!

    Paul – I’m sending over a jar for you to put 10p in each time you pinch my metaphors! I find that when I explain marketing this way, people “get it” a lot quicker and can come up with great ideas far more quickly than if I talk about niches, target markets and strong offers.



  6. Core Marketing Plan For Your Business – Part 2 on March 10th, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    […] the first article about writing your marketing plan for small business, you were introduced to the idea of marketing being like fishing.  That first step was all about […]



  7. Core Marketing Plan Part 3 – Marketing Channels on March 23rd, 2010 at 11:22 am

    […] the first two articles about writing a simple one page marketing plan for small business, we compared marketing to fishing and covered the need to choose the kind of "fish" you […]



  8. Dean Marshall on November 15th, 2010 at 1:59 am

    Lee,

    I’m just starting to revisit the whole business plan so have enjoyed spending the last few hours reading your articles and integrating some of the question/answer exercises into my preliminary notes.

    I’ve always failed miserably with the niche question – and with developing a clear idea of a USP.

    I struggle to avoid the “We’ll work with anyone” answer to the niche question. Is it valid to identify multiple niches with distinct sets of answers – or should one specifically target only the potentially most lucrative niche?



  9. Lee on November 15th, 2010 at 8:44 am

    Hi Dean,

    Great question! In practice I find developing a niche to be an exploratory process. For example, one of my clients (they want to remain incognito unfortunately) doubled this year by focusing on one specific niche. They already sold to that niche as part of their wider market, but with a little focus we discovered that their highest margin sales came from a single specific product line. By developing this niche, we were able to add £2M to their turnover with very focussed marketing campaigns and smart sales training.

    We’ve still got some way to go with this niche – probably adding another £2-4M turnover. However, we’re also adding in another niche in the New Year to broaden their risk base.

    The USP challenge is far broader. In my mind there are 3 ways to differentiate yourself: the USP, a guarantee and powerful branding. Most small companies overlook the branding element because it’s complex. However, it’s possible to create a great brand even in a small business and it is worth doing.

    Hope this helps a little. You can always call for a chat if you’d like to explore a bit more.

    Cheers

    Lee



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