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Creating A Marketing Plan

You want to be unique in all of your marketing adventures; particularly when you are trying new APPROACHES to discover what does and does not work. Let’s review some of the OPPORTUNITIES we have to reach out for new and repeat orders whether you are beginning a new business or expanding an existing one.

Start by determining the GOAL of your advertising -– branding, lead generation or both? Most entrepreneurs need leads; and cash flow is their primary motivation. Then work on the right MESSAGE. How can I grab their attention in six seconds? What action do I want them to take? How many words will it take me to get from one to the other?

Ask yourself, "Where does my target market hang out? What are their buying habits and hobbies?" This helps you identify where they are most likely to SEE you so you can choose the right VEHICLE. Advertising routes include print ads in magazines and newspapers, online banners, email campaigns, newsletters, television and radio commercials, signs, billboards, flyers, brochures, direct mail pieces, custom letters, postcards, and coupons.

Remember that press releases are not SALES tools. If your idea doesn’t have a newsworthy angle, forget it. Your headline must grab attention, letting them know how they’ll benefit by reading the rest of the release. The leading paragraph should answer who, what, where, when, why and how. Then provide the facts -- background information, statistics, exciting quotes, etc. And keep it short and SIMPLE, around 300 words and make sure to include contact information.

Only get in touch with editors who write about your industry or TOPIC. Some editors like to be contacted by mail, others prefer email and fax –- give them what they ask for. Do not CALL editors –- they hate that. And, if they ask for email, never send an attachment.

Publishing industry articles with a company BYLINE is a great marketing opportunity. Obtain the editorial calendars for key publications 6 months to 1 year in advance and develop appropriate story ideas around these plans. One media resource is Here you can locate print publications including magazines, newspapers, catalogs, journals, tabloids, directories, reports, and government publications in which to place your MATERIAL.

Investigate local ORGANIZATIONS and get out in your community. What trade associations are close that you can attend regularly? Get involved in their committees -– nothing sells better than when you create good relationships. Do you have an active chamber of commerce you can join to meet other business people? Obtain a list of NETWORKING groups in your area and try them all out.

Analysts and research firms are often chief VALIDATORS of a company’s products or services and they provides great opportunities to expose your firm to buyers as well as the other people who INFLUENCE buying decisions. If you want to learn the secrets to building an analyst relationship, Dave Cadoff has written a book called “Analyst Secrets Revealed”.

Tradeshows are alive and well and they are a great way to MEET new people, check out the competition, and catch up on new products and services. You can also make critical CONNECTIONS with people who have synergistic products and/or service that want to do co-op marketing. If you can’t afford a booth and all the exhibition fees, walk the convention floors with plenty of business cards to hand out. Then go schmooze. You can find a list of every tradeshow nationwide at

Customer Relationship Management SOFTWARE is a critical tool for every business. Varied levels of functionality are available and you need to get the right-sized one for your company, as well as a package with the appropriate features. This software can save you enormous amounts of time dealing with customer questions, orders, and returns, etc. The more automated this function becomes, the more profitable your company can be. And, because this kind of system PERSONALIZES the interaction with your end consumer, it also is an extremely valuable marketing tool. One of the best ways to make this decision is to find out what systems others in your industry are using. Then you can be certain the right functionality will be available to you.

Email campaigns are powerful and one of the most important things you can do is build your customer email LIST. It can be used to stay in touch with your current customers, as well find new prospects through them by implementing viral marketing techniques. You need to be keenly aware of SPAM and do not use it as it can only hurt your credibility.

Writing an industry NEWSLETTER or “e-zine” is a great way to build your customer list. Write articles that peek interest for prospects to come to your website and sign up for your newsletter. This keeps them on the hook and your company foremost in their mind when a new project comes around.

Many say BANNER advertising doesn’t work, but if you are industry-specific they can be highly effective and very cost-effective. Check out directory sites and trade associations for targeted advertising opportunities. Get a professional copywriter to create your hook and make sure you track the ad back to your site so you will know where to keep investing your ad dollars. Also try creating ads for industry TRADE newsletters. Because these publications are so targeted, the lists don’t need to be huge. Just make sure your ad is good enough to make them click through to your site.

Did I forget to say you need a WEBSITE? Can’t imagine why you wouldn’t have one. Even if it’s just a brochure site that explains your company and it’s mission and vision, history, testimonials, and past projects etc. It’s another opportunity to make a great first impression with your prospects and make it easy for them to LOCATE you. Search engine optimization is critical to finding your website, so if you do not have your own internal tech organization to handle this, then hire a company to do it for you.

Here are some initial issues you need to consider when crafting your marketing plan:
  • What are the issues surrounding your industry
  • how will you offer a unique SOLUTION to them?
  • What is your vision for this company?
  • How do you want to be PERCEIVED?
  • What do you want to ACCOMPLISH in the upcoming year?
  • What is your corporate and product POSITIONING?
  • What benefits, features, and value do you offer the client?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of COMPETITORS?
  • What is your target MARKET?

Analyze all of your marketing OPPORTUNITIES and create a chart of what is available including cost. Then prioritize your program and create deadlines for each to be accomplished. Break down each step and list specific actions that need to be taken and when. Include everything you have chosen to accomplish for this year and allocate funds to each activity or event within your financial ALLOTMENT.


Cathy Taylor is a marketing consultant with over 25 years experience. She specializes in internet marketing, strategy and plan development, as well as management of communications and public relations programs for small business sectors. She can be reached at or visit her website at

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