You (and your team) have looked at your products and have developed a plan for getting those products in front of your target market.

Part of that plan might include creative tasks like coming up with innovative copy approaches or design layouts. But don’t let the “fun” stuff take precedence over the plan’s real purpose: profit!

According to Inc., here are some of the nuts and bolts that should be the foundation of every marketing plan.

1. A specific target market for each product. “Men” is too general. “Baby boomer men” is still too general. “Baby boomer men with back problems” might still be too general. “Baby boomer men with a certain type of back problem” is just right.

2. An anticipated return on investment. If you don’t know how much money you need to make from a marketing effort (a print ad, for example) for it to be worth your while… you’re just wasting money.

3. A way to test until you find the best copy and offer. Campaigns are never set in stone. Tweaking and fine-tuning (even wholesale overhauling) is necessary until you find the right mix. This goes hand in hand with the next essential component of a marketing plan…

4. A way to track and monitor all your marketing efforts. Without this feedback, you won’t know what’s working and what isn’t. That’s why Michael Masterson and MaryEllen Tribby almost always recommend direct-response marketing.

“Your online [direct-response] marketing efforts can offer you almost immediate feedback. And if you’ve done your testing properly, you can roll out instantly with your winner, while continuing to test different elements that can bring in more bottom-line dollars.”

5. A goof-proof system for accepting orders. If a customer tries to buy and your online order form doesn’t work – or the customer service rep who takes incoming calls can’t answer his questions – you’ve just lost a sale. If it happens enough, you’re going to be out of business.

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