We don’t know who we should be marketing to or how. We definitely don’t have a plan of attack. Looking for suggestions.

Thoughts of the day: Start by reading about what goes into making a good marketing plan. Define what makes your company stand out. Take a good hard look at who wants what you have to offer. Jump in by picking a few marketing efforts to focus on, but have a context into which those fit.

Let’s start with clarifying why you’re playing with marketing in the first place. Marketing is about educating and motivating people so that they acquire goods or services in a way that returns a profit to your company. Ultimately it’s about communicating in a way that the right people hear you and take the action you want them to take at the time you want them to act.

Like most things, when it comes to marketing, a plan is always better than a bunch of uncoordinated guesses at what might work. Marketing requires trial and error, but works best within a larger context of what it is you’re trying to accomplish coordinated by measurement of how each trial worked.

If you’re like most of us, you’d rather have a simple straight answer: Do “this” in order to get “that” to happen. But it doesn’t work that way. Your market, clients, offers and company are unique, and your optimum marketing plan has to be customized to unlock their combined full potential. Use your resources. Get a few good books about marketing and start reading.

One of the first steps in a marketing plan is defining value. What does your customer want? What is important to your customer? What is it about your company’s offer that addresses those questions and thereby creates value for your past, current and future customers?

Ideally, there’s something unique in what you offer. It may be that your company does something no competitor can do. It can be an exclusive combination of things. More likely, unique comes through as a result of talking in a different way about what you do and how that benefits your target customers.

A large part of any marketing plan is laying out who you plan to sell to, why, and how you will reach them.

Do interviews with current buyers to uncover what they value. Take a hard look at competitors to see how they approach marketing. Look at what buyers do for alternative solutions, called substitutes. Ask prospects what’s missing, what they wish they could have.

Put what you learned into writing and draw some logical conclusions about why your offer would be superior. Then use your customers’ words to describe the value of your solution.

Decide how much you need to sell. Figure out how much of that capacity can be picked up by current customers. Lay out a plan to reach them, knowing this group should be most receptive to anything you put in front of them.

Calculate how much additional you need to sell in order to hit your goals. Pick a target group who you think would be interested. Map out a strategy for getting in front of these potential buyers. Since they don’t already know who you are, plan on expending more effort to break through and get their attention.

Once your plan is clear of who to go after, what they want and how to reach them, it’s time to put together a budget and timeline and to start trials. Marketing is subject to a multiplier effect. Don’t expect the first effort to turn into sales. Back it up with a second and third wave of marketing. Measure results by asking targets what they noticed and how much closer they are to buying. Keep testing until you find the right combo to break through and turn contacts into dollars.

Try “Marketing Plan Template & Example: How to Write a Marketing Plan” by Alex Genadinik.