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Several business functions had to start working on the cloud overnight, all thanks to the International emergency that has confined everyone to their homes.
While many business functions were also disrupted, there were also those that were delayed owing to the absence of the right tools in place.
If you are reading this article, chances are, employee training was one such function in your case.
Whether you are a corporate training administrator or simply someone trying to do something productive with their time, if you have just started accumulating the tools you need to deploy online training, there are some pressing decisions to be made.
One such decision is choosing the right learning management system (LMS).
Choosing the wrong LMS can turn out to be a pricey disaster. For starters, LMS, even the affordable ones, are generally a large investment.
Moreover, the LMS plays a critical role in the development and deployment of your course content. Choosing a complex LMS can cause serious delays in the delivery of your course material.
Finally, the LMS is a significant part of the learner’s experience. Choosing a difficult to use LMS will have a negative influence over retention and engagement numbers.
Now that we have established that choosing an LMS is a decision that is best taken diligently, let’s look at what you must look for in your next LMS:User-Friendliness
If you have read this far, you must have already understood the importance of user-friendliness. An intuitive user experience in an LMS allows learning administrators to use its features to their full capability, allowing them to create immersive learning experiences that leave a lasting impression.
At the same time, for learners, user-friendliness in an LMS allows them to focus on their course curriculum, instead of having to learn the ropes of the LMS beforehand.
This is crucial for businesses and course proprietors alike. For businesses, a complex LMS can mean spending paid manhours learning how the LMS functions. At the same time, for a course proprietor, a complex user experience can mean a poor customer experience, which can negatively affect their future enrollment numbers.
A good example of a LMS with an intuitive user interface is
. The LMS is supported by the same team that has developed the platform and they will be happy to help you customise the experience of the user interface and dashboards.Essential Features
Modern learning management systems come loaded with a variety of features that allow course administrators and creators to make their course curriculum more engaging.
From the ability to break long-form lessons into bite sized micro-learning modules to gamification features and features that enable social learning, modern LMS are designed keeping the needs of a modern learner in mind.
With that said, the flexibility and utility of these features may vary between different learning management systems. Moreover, there might be cases where you make use of one particular feature or ability of an LMS, more than the others. For such cases, there are specialised learning management systems.
A great example of the same is the
that specialises in helping learning administrators create immersive video courses.Tracking And Reporting Abilities
From being able to track individual students’ progress to understanding how each student interacts with each lesson, modern LMS are capable of generating insightful reports that help you understand how to help your learners/students better.
However, not all LMS are made alike and similar, not all of them are equally capable at offering in-depth reports. For this reason, understanding the tracking and reporting capabilities of a prospective LMS becomes one of the most pressing considerations while making a purchase.Conclusion
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Link building isn’t right for every single business.
It feels a little weird to say it, especially as someone who has practiced link building for nearly 20 years and wrote an entire book on it!
But it’s true.
More specifically, link building may not be the best investment for a business when it comes to digital marketing spend.
After all, our job is to grow businesses and measure that growth in sales and revenue. If we’re not sure if link building (or any activity) can do that, then we at least owe it to clients to be honest and have a conversation about it.
Putting this to one side, sometimes it may be clear that link building can contribute toward sales and revenue, but another activity presents a bigger opportunity right now. Again, we owe it to clients to talk about this even if your agency or field of expertise isn’t aligned with the opportunity.
There are some very good reasons why link building may not be right for your business. Today, we’ll explore a few of those reasons and ensure that you’re looking for opportunities to drive growth everywhere – not just via link building.1. Blockers in Internal Politics, Bureaucracy, and Signoff
With most forms of link building, you’re likely to need approval from various people within an organization before you can proceed.
This is particularly true if you’re doing content-led link building and launching campaigns, or using digital PR tactics such as reacting to changing news cycles and reaching out to journalists on their behalf.
Here are just a few of the internal blockers that can get in the way of you getting things done.Communications and PR
They often hold (and want to keep hold of) relationships with key publications and journalists, leading them to put together a list of them who you can’t contact.
This limits your ability to get results. And in extreme cases, it could leave you with very few relevant publications to target.Design, UX, and Copywriters
These can be different teams but I’ve put them together because if you are producing any content at all, they are very likely to take an interest in it.
Each may want to have the ability to sign off (or not sign off) whatever you produce.Legal and Compliance
In some industries, there will be a high bar when it comes to what the organization is able to publish. This is most likely to happen in highly regulated industries such as finance and insurance that have external industry bodies keeping an eye on them.
It can also happen in the healthcare and medical space, where the consequences of inaccurate or misleading content can be real and severe.Technical and Development
If you are producing content, you’ll need to upload it to your client’s website at some point.
If this is a simple execution such as a blog post, it will probably be pretty straightforward.
However, if you’re looking to upload something more complex such as an interactive infographic, a tool, or a large report, you’re likely to need help from a developer at some point. This isn’t likely to completely stop you from getting things done, but it could slow things down.How Internal Blockers Threaten Link Building Success
There are more, but this gives you a good overview of some of the most common blockers to getting your job done as a link builder.
That’s not to say that things are impossible, but the combination of multiple of these blockers could lead to:
Big delays in getting campaigns live and links built, leading to frustration and more importantly, a delay in results being achieved and wasted budget.
Campaigns that change so much that the original message, story, or core point is diluted or lost completely.
Significantly reduced outreach targets, leading to KPIs being much harder to achieve and less realistic.
If an organization has these kinds of blockers, the consequences above become very real. This could well mean that content-led link building isn’t right for them until these blockers are removed.
The last thing you or your client want is for these kinds of blockers to stop results from coming in.
It may well be that the organization can benefit from link building, but the chances of being able to get momentum and build links quickly are low and mean they shouldn’t make the investment right now.2. Little or No Buy-in for Link Building at the Executive Level
This is a tricky one but I’ve seen it happen a few times over the years. The thing with this one is that you can still sell a link building project to a client but you’re basically delaying what may be inevitable – you being fired.
When an organization first starts talking to you about an SEO project and this possibly involves link building, one of the first things to clarify is how they will be measuring success.
Your main point of contact probably has an answer for this which may be one or more of the following:
Quality of links.
Quantity of links.
This is a good starting point, especially if they are talking about real business outcomes such as measuring activity in sales and revenue.
However, you need to dig deeper than this and get an understanding of how the wider organization views SEO and link building and its value to the business.
Beyond this, you need to understand exactly how SEO and link building is measured and how far and wide it is reported.
Having objectives and KPIs in place around links, traffic, sales, and revenue is all well and good. But when it comes to reporting, who sees those reports?
Is it just your current point of contact, or do their bosses take a look, too?
The key thing you’re looking for here is evidence that the wider organization is invested in your activity. If they are, then you’ll see signs that involve senior management being involved in things such as:
The pitch and onboarding process.
Signing off on budgets.
Setting objectives and KPIs.
Asking you tough questions about your process and measurement.
While these can make your life difficult during the sales process, it’s a good sign because it can indicate that your activity will be taken seriously. It’s a valuable part of the wider strategy.
If you don’t see signs like these, yes, it may make your short-term life easier — but it’s almost certainly going to pose problems further down the line.
These problems can occur when the organization starts to struggle and activities are looked at more closely.
Typically, senior executives will begin looking at activities and where the budget is being spent and start to make decisions on whether to continue with them or not.
If this happens, do you want to be in a position where you’re starting from scratch in convincing a senior executive that your activity is valuable to the organization?
I wouldn’t – I’ve been there!
I’d much rather be on the front foot and have this conversation knowing that the executive is already aware of the value of the work I’m doing and needs some help to show that it’s worth continuing.
Bringing this back to the core point, if senior management are not remotely bought into (or interested in becoming bought into) your activity, then it may well be a sign that the activity isn’t right for them.
It can also make it much harder to get things done.
Ideally, you want understanding and buy-in from other departments and leaders so they can help remove blockers.
Again, it can be hard to act on this kind of information during the sales process because you can sell a project with the full knowledge of these potential issues. It’s only further down the line that things may go wrong.
But at the very least, you should probe into these areas to learn more and understand what may go wrong later.
Ultimately, if an organization is at the point where senior management does not understand or value link building, then it may not be right for them to invest in it.
Education is needed and this education may well come via real projects that you deliver, but you should be aware of this from the start of a project and treat it as a trial of your services.3. The Website That You’re Working on Is Technically Flawed
Another scenario I’ve been presented with over the years is where link building has been outlined as a requirement, but the technical aspects of the website in scope are under par.
In situations like this, links will simply not be as effective as they could be. Whilst you may see a greater uplift later when technical issues are resolved, you’re not going to see the value from your work in the short- to medium-term.
Years ago, building enough links would paper over technical SEO cracks or content that wasn’t good enough. Now, these fundamentals are table stakes and will be required just to get you into the game.
If you don’t have them, links alone are unlikely to save you.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you need to only work on websites that are 100% technically perfect (is there even such a thing?).
It does mean that you and your client can’t turn a blind eye to technical and on-page SEO issues. These must be owned by someone, whether that’s you as part of your scope of work or an internal team.
If there are serious technical issues with a website and no one is owning them getting fixed, then link building may not be right for the business. They are likely to see more value from getting this technical debt fixed and prioritizing that.
Both technical SEO and link building can happen at once, but try to avoid entering into link building if technical SEO is being ignored.
Leading on from this, avoid making predictions on what objectives you can achieve without knowing who is in control of technical and on-page SEO.
Link building can move the needle a lot but if technical SEO is an issue, you shouldn’t be held to targets where such a big part of the puzzle isn’t in your control.
Either you need to look at technical SEO too, or you need to be confident that it is being looked at and prioritized elsewhere.4. Your Link Building Activity Won’t Make a Dent in Their Link Profile
Finally, this one is a little bit less common but is worth mentioning.
Sometimes, you’ll get a large brand coming to you who is either well known in your country or well known around the world.
You may ask yourself – why do they need link building?
Most domains, no matter how big the brand, can benefit from link building. But if a domain is getting a large number of links naturally just because of who they are (think: Apple, Amazon, Coca-Cola, etc.) then will you be able to build links that will make a difference to them?
Every time Apple releases a new product, they get links. Not just that, they get links directly to their product pages and homepage, exactly where you want them to go.
In cases like this, content-led link building (and other techniques) are not likely to move the needle for Apple.
If this is what they’re asking you for, then link building isn’t right for them.
The focus here would need to shift toward scalable techniques and enabling them to own SEO and link building internally and integrating it across departments.
Essentially, it needs to become part of work that is already being delivered so that more value is generated from it.
I’ve said no to working with a few very large, multinational brands over the last couple of years because of this. They almost certainly could have benefitted from link building, but being who they were meant that they generated a lot of links anyway, so our approach needed to change.
Unfortunately, this change wasn’t possible so we had to let them know we couldn’t pitch for their project.In Summary
Saying no to working with someone is hard, and you’re not always in the position to be able to do this.
But it’s a reality that more agencies need to recognize because you’re only setting yourself up for failure later on if you ignore the signs of link building not being right for a business.
During times when a big focus is on ensuring that your team has the environment to thrive and succeed, we need to put as much emphasis as possible on setting them up to win rather than failure.
So don’t always assume that link building is right for everyone. Look for the signs that it may not be. Do what you can to overcome them early, to keep them from becoming issues later on.
Businesses today need to be ready for unexpected impacts on their business. Business Continuity Plans are a great way to prepare for unexpected events. They consolidate everything you need to do in the event of a disruption to your business. However, any Business Continuity Plan must be regularly tested to make sure it is fit for purpose.
We will be discussing what a Business Continuity Plan looks like, how testing works, and when it should be tested.What is a Business Continuity Plan (BCP)?
The Business Continuity Plan explains how a business functions after a disaster. It provides procedures for dealing with fires, natural disasters and mass disease outbreaks.
Data backups are a key concern for today’s plans. Many industries, such as content marketing for SaaS, require extensive planning. We need to be aware of our protected data. The plan must also include contact information for staff to ensure productivity, whether it is short-term or long term.
Also read: Top 10 Helpful GitHub Storage For Web DevelopersWhat Business Continuity Plan do I need?
The past few years have shown that no one can predict the future. Unexpected events can cause major disruptions in our lives and can lead to businesses being shut down or even going out of business.
Invenio IT found that 51% of global businesses didn’t have a business continuity program in 2023. This is a mistake we simply can’t afford, given how rapidly the world of work has changed. If businesses don’t get back to normal quickly after a disaster, 90% of them will fail within one year.
Unable to persevere in the face of difficulties is a threat for customer acquisition. Customers will reject your business, regardless of how detailed you are with customer onboarding templates.
Also read: 11 best ways to Improve Personal Development and Self-Growth and its Benefit on our LifeHow do I test my plan?
Businesses today can approach business continuity planning testing in many different ways. Understanding the common tasks of all test types is important. They all require understanding your plan, putting it into action, and identifying opportunities for improvement. It’s how you approach your plan and what resources you have available that will make the difference.
It might be a good idea to look at the software testing process as a quality assurance. First, you need to have a clear vision of the things that you are trying to improve or change. Next, include everyone involved and have a dedicated team of people assigned.Review of Business Continuity Plan
Modern-day business data can be easily preserved thanks to cloud services. To track progress, for example, when we are calculating CSAT we might use a cloud graph. These services are not a panacea. Make backups and keep track of which cloud services you use.
Also read: How to choose The Perfect Domain NameTests on the Tabletop
Tabletop testing, also known as structured walkthrough, is a roleplay scenario. The key stakeholders of a business gather together to simulate a business risk and to determine how they will respond. The best continuity plans require human eyes.
Tabletop testing typically looks at several scenarios. Participants review the response procedures and outline their responsibilities to see if they can improve on the overall plan. Start with hacker attacks if you are just starting out. These are common and easy to defeat.
This type of testing is great for getting employees on the same page about what they need to do. This type of testing requires a detailed approach to the plan and often brings together multiple departments. This makes amending and understanding the project easier.
However, tabletop testing is not without its challenges. Tabletop testing is difficult to perform properly and requires extensive documentation to make it useful. You don’t have to do it as often as with other types of testing. In many cases you are more focused on the plan than actually implementing it.Walk-Through
This is the most challenging form of continuity planning testing. Participating in a walkthrough perform recovery actions, such as testing redundant systems and restoring backups. This includes the plan’s key personnel and all relevant employees.
You might need to travel outside of the office for external data storage locations, or localization testing. A walkthrough, which is similar to localization testing, ensures that all components of your plan work wherever they are located.
Also read: How To Make 5K Dollars In A Month? 20+ Easy Ways To Make $5,000 Fast + Tips!How often should I test my plan?
The frequency of testing depends on the needs of your business and the resources available to you. Detail plan testing is not something you can do every single day, as you can see. To be truly effective, even at a basic level it will require multiple people from different departments.
It is also important to think about what you are testing. Businesses today face many threats. However, some are more likely than others. If you live in an area that is susceptible to flooding, it may be a good idea to concentrate on your business’s flood response. However, you should also consider common threats such as data breaches which can be addressed with a security assessment.
Also read: Top 10 IoT Mobile App Development Trends to Expect in 2023What else should I consider?
Documentation is the most important part of any test. Take notes on everything that is useful and document your testing. To make the testing worthwhile, you must also follow-up on these actions.
You should increase your frequency for any major changes in your business, such as moving premises or increasing the size of your workforce. These big changes can have a profound impact on the continuity plan.
Tell your entire workforce about the plan and encourage them to participate where possible. You might be able to discover new and valuable ideas like wiping sensitive files off your hard drives.
Your Business Continuity Plan can be viewed as an organic component, which means it is subject to revision and evolution. This will help you do a great job in keeping your business safe for the future.
Back in 1995 Craig Newmark had a revolutionary idea. Why not use this new thing called the internet to launch an email distribution list? Inspired by friendly social sites like WELL, MindVox and Usene, Newman used his email list to inform people in the San Francisco Bay area about upcoming local events. Word of mouth quickly spread and the number of subscribers grew unexpectedly. Eventually, people began using the list for non-event postings. By 1996, chúng tôi went live.
Within its first 5 years, Craigslist expanded to 14 cities in North America. As more categories and cities were added, Newmark left his job as a software engineer to work at the site full-time. Today, Craigslist is in over 700 “cities” in 70 countries with over 50 billion page views per month, putting it in 37th place overall among web sites worldwide and 10th overall among web sites in the United States.
Throughout the years, people have found ridiculous bargains, employment, and a great way to get rid of items taking up space in their homes.
But, for all of its potential and good, is the site actually killing your business? Here’s how that may be the case.Scams
The internet is no stranger to scams. It happens on a daily basis. For most of us, internet scams have become so frequent that we’re usually cautious when something sounds to good to be true. Unfortunately, when you visit a well-known site, you expect it to be scam-free. That’s not the case with Craigslist.
This type of scam can really damage your brand’s reputation. Instead of focusing on actual sales and improving you business, you could be forced to do damage control for months to repair your brand.Lawsuits
Despite its appearance of being a “do-gooder” Craigslist has a nasty history of suing or issuing cease-and-desist letters to a number of startups. As noted on the New York Times technology blog in 2012, Craigslist “has dug an effective moat by cultivating an exaggerated image of ‘doing good’ that keeps its customers loyal, while behind the scenes, it bullies any rivals that come near and it stifles innovation”.
This means that any company wanting to improve on the Craigslist concept probably won’t have the opportunity. It seems that Newmark and company don’t want any competition. This doesn’t just harm innovating start-ups, it could also prevent future sales for your business.Advertising
Image Credit: Samantha Marx
It’s no big secret that Craigslist has harmed local chúng tôi is because local newspapers have lost about $5 billion dollars in potential revenue from classifieds, according to a study in August 2013. Since newspapers can’t compete with the free postings on Craigslist, there was a 20 percent drop in ad rates. There are two reasons why this could be detrimental to your business.
In many cities, Craigslist doesn’t allow you to customize an ad that uses third-party HTML tags in listings. This means your ad will no longer stand out because it won’t have have brand recognition (no logos, for example), instead showing only low resolution images.Why Buy Something New?
Yes, there has always been a way for people to save money by purchasing a used product. However, the popularity of Craigslist has made it much easier. Users have been able to find all sorts of items and services via Craigslist for years. They don’t have to go anywhere else to find an apartment, new kitchen table, working grill, or whatever else they may want or need. With an almost endless supply of listings, why purchase something new?
Obviously, Craigslist hasn’t closed the doors on every shop on ‘Main Street’, but it’s helped create a new type of economy: one where trades, barters, and selling used items to bargain hunters are the norm. This must have had an impact on local businesses who were profiting from good American throw-away mentality. It’s a brave new world of reselling, and that could weaken your sales.
Are there any other reasons that you can think of on how Craigslist is killing you business? If so, tell us how! Or, have you found Craigslist has helped your business?
Featured Image Credit: Wikipedia
Introduction to Twitter Homepage
Digital marketing, conversion rate optimization, customer relationship management & others
Organizations nowadays especially hire employees to manage their social network accounts and keep the business digitally savvy. There are options for the audience/customers to contact the business directly, with their issues, expectations as well as feedback. The employees in this department make sure that they respond to customers queries within a specific period of time so that it makes the customer feel important and connected to the organization they have been loyal with for the associated time.
The best social network so far analyzed, based on its tools and options offered for business and its promotion and marketing is the Twitter homepage.
Twitter was founded in 2006 and is headquartered in San Francisco, California. Billions of users send over 500 million Tweets each day, giving businesses a great opportunity to reach the audience of new and existing customers globally. No matter what type of business, what scale and area of business you are, from a wholesaler to a freelancer, from a service provider to a software production company, Twitter homepage can be used to build and retain meaningful long-term connection with the targeted audience, further leading to implementation of plans and actions through the network of customers who are loyal to your business.How to Use Twitter Homepage for your Business?
The use of the Twitter homepage for your business is as follows:1. Marketing
ii. Monitor your brand on the twitter homepage: Using the aforementioned Twitter Search tool, you can search and track what people are saying about your company, products, competitors or any other hot words in your industry. Set up an RSS feed to receive all search results in Google Reader. If you find someone tweeting about your products or a person who is looking for a solution that your product provides, let them know!
During the event, people use the HashTag, denoted by ‘#’, while live-tweeting, or tweeting what they see/hear in real-time. The HashTag will collect the event tweets and build an online chat about that particular event.
People who are not at the event will see your HashTag and may even use it. A popular HashTag often creates excitement, and people can go to Twitter Search to follow the conversation around the event.
v. Use the Twitter homepage to promote new tools. Twitter users love new toys, especially if they create some sort of outcome, grade or analysis of the person using the tool. Make the results of your tool/grader as easy to Tweet as possible. Perhaps you could add a “Tweet this grade” function. Make sure your tool is the easiest to share!2. Public relations
i. Develop relationships with reporters, bloggers, and other media people through twitter homepage. Reporters and social bloggers are very active in social networks, especially when gathering cues for stories.
ii. Watch for tweets about editorial opportunities. Because the nature of Twitter is very quick-response, it’s a great place for media people to look for last-minute, additional resources for their stories. Track the tweets by reporters or bloggers very closely, and scan for any possible opportunities. It’s a great idea to send reporters’ tips to other resources, showing help and improving relationships with media personnel, regardless of the company. The media person will be thankful for your help and more likely use you as a reference when the subject is applicable to you!
iii. Send direct messages (DMs) rather than an email. To send a direct message, you will be forced to frame a crisp and concise pitch that a reporter is more likely to read. Direct messages are less formal, and some media people prefer DMs over emails. It also saves you time.
Remember, you can only DM the ones who follow you back. However, don’t pitch too much; they could easily un-follow which makes it much more difficult for you to connect.
iv. Use Twitter to check in on your media person before PR pitching. Check to see what the person you’re about to pitch is up to before contacting them. In the event that the person is sick, having a bad day or away on travel—it may be best to contact him or her at another time.3. Customer service
iii. Make sure that you follow back everyone who follows your Business Account. Although it’s acceptable to pick and choose whom you want to follow back in your personal account, there’s no reason to limit who your company follows. If you want, set up an auto-follow account with a third-party tool like TweetLater.
Also, the added benefit of following back everyone who follows your company account is the ability to DM you.
iv. Do not send an auto direct message whenever someone new follows you or your company. It’s easy to get into the trap of automating your Twitter homepage activity. Many people will set up an auto direct message (or auto DM) to be sent to every new follower. This looks artificial and could make you appear apathetic about building true relationships with your customers.4. Record and scrutinize your campaigns
Now that you’ve integrated twitter homepage into different elements of your campaign, it’s important to find components that you can track to judge its effectiveness.
Track the following aspects in your campaign:
Reach: Constitutes the total number of followers. This number is your raw distribution power.
Rate of Response: Is the average number of replies per tweet. When you sent out a link or a question, how many people respond?
Branding and Exposure: How often are your company’s products or services referred. Use Twitter Search to track.
Influence: Is the overall effectiveness of your Twitter handle. Assess your followers and their influence.
Every tweet appears in your follower’s feeds.
You can tweet images and build a conversation around them and also old posts from your WordPress site.
You can follow potential clients and customers.
You can organize people into lists and conversations as well.
You can schedule your tweets (using the Buffer app) to go out at important times.Recommended Articles
This is a guide to Twitter Homepage. Here we discuss the introduction and how to use twitter homepage for your business? You can also look at the following articles to learn more –
What are the essential parts of a business plan template?
Understanding and creating different types of marketing plans and knowing when they are needed is essential to creating a thriving business. But it can be difficult to know which type of plan to use when and how best to structure them. In this article, we look at the essential parts of a business plan and show how to lay it out.
Our new, free PDF download detailing the different types of marketing plans will help you structure different types of plan and gives recommendations on how to make them effective.
Download our free PDF download – Understanding different types of marketing plan guide
This download and our other free templates is for anyone who wants to improve their knowledge of marketing planning with a few to gaining more senior roles.
Access the How to structure different types of marketing plansWhat is a business plan?
A business plan is a formal document that outlines organizational objectives and the strategies required to achieve those objectives. It identifies how you drive your organization’s future. It aims to answer the question: How do we plan to make our business a success? It is a written record of goals, coupled with a track record of delivering against those goals.
As outlined in the Smart Insights Quick Win Guide and Template – Create a Multi-Channel Marketing Plan, the purpose of a business plan is to define strategies for growing profitability over a long-term period. The scope of a Business Plan is typically 12 months to three years and content usually includes:
New product development
Means of cost management
The purpose of a business plan is to match targeted opportunities with resources, focused activity, and strategies. It supports in guiding and directing different areas of your organization to ensure that you are all working towards the same objectives.
If you’re looking to optimize your business plan, integrate your digital activities, or just need some help prioritizing next steps to grow your business, why not book a free 1-2-1 consultation call with the team?
Our business consultation calls are designed to put you in the driver’s seat and talk through your opportunities using the RACE Framework, so you can make an informed decision about the best strategy for your business. Book your call to find out more.Need a winning marketing strategy?
Book your free 1-2-1 consultation to develop your new strategy with the RACE Framework
Book consultationWhen to use a business plan?
A business plan is used by organizations for establishing and monitoring continuous business growth, remaining competitive, and in achieving specific goals. Business plans are typically utilized by organizations when:
Gaining initial investment as a new business or startup
Planning market expansion for an existing company
Undertaking product development
Preparing for acquisition
Evaluating resource allocation and strategic goals
Organizations seeking funding require business plans to demonstrate the strength of the business and its future to investors.What should be included? / How should the plan be structured?
A business plan typically defines how an organization will change to become more competitive in the future. It typically includes:
A review of existing financial performance
Value proposition (products and services)
Marketing tactics including the 7Ps of the marketing mix
Potential threats and challenges
A business plan is an effective way of monitoring progress as it establishes targets in all areas of your business; from sales and expenses to staff recruitment and financial requirements. Once established, these targets translate into performance goals.
A solid business plan has:
Clear, realistic goals which you can be confident of hitting
The best strategy to achieve these goals against your competition
Sufficient details of the tactics and actions needed to translate the strategy into action
A method to check you are on track with your plansOptimize your business marketing plan
Looking for a winning marketing plan to drive the results your business needs? Our Smart Insights consultation calls are designed to help you discuss your marketing challenges and opportunities through the context of our popular RACE Framework, a strategic marketing structure designed to win you more customers.Need a winning marketing strategy?
Book your free 1-2-1 consultation to develop your new strategy with the RACE Framework
To make sure your business plan has all the essential features, I recommend the SOSTAC® structure developed by PR Smith—Dave Chaffey’s co-author of the printed book Digital Marketing Excellence.
PR Smith’s SOSTAC® is a great template for structuring a business, marketing or digital marketing plans since it’s relatively simple and logical, so it’s easy to remember and to explain to colleagues or agencies. SOSTAC® is a strategic planning process framework that gives you a clear structure to work through to create and manage your plan.
Here’s a summary of how different multichannel marketing activities map to different sections of SOSTAC®. Smart Insights premium members can download PR Smith’s SOSTAC® guide to your Perfect Digital Marketing Plan.So, what does SOSTAC® stand for?
Situation analysis means ‘Where are we now?’ For business planners, questions include:
What industry are we operating in?
What are our products and/or services?
What is our current business structure?
What do our cash flow statement, balance sheet, and financial ratios look like?
Are we measuring results accurately?
Who and where are our customers?
What are our competitors doing?
What’s working for them?
Objectives mean ‘Where do we want to be?’ What is the growth forecast? What are the top-level goals 5 Ss (Sell, Serve, Speak, Save, and Sizzle)? Here we can build specific and measurable business plan targets. Good objectives are quantified against timescales.
Tactics are the details of the strategy. They highlight in a business plan exactly which tactics occur when. To recruit new staff, for example, we would include what methods we will implement to improve our employer brand.
Action is the detailed planning of tactics. Who does what, when, and how? What processes and activities are required to make things happen?
Control identifies what you need to measure when, a review process and corrective action when you’re not hitting your targets. The Control section of the plan ensures you know if you are succeeding or failing – and you can make adjustments – before it is too late.Which type of business is it most suited for?
A common perception is that business plans are formulated by cash-starved start-ups seeking investment to launch a new venture, but a business plan can and should be utilized by businesses of any size, type, and at any stage of existence.
Even though the techniques for business planning may vary between different sizes and types of organization, the objective is always the same: to define targeted opportunities to become more competitive with resources, focused activity, and strategies.
In smaller organizations, the business planning process may be more straightforward than for larger organizations with distinct business areas and who may need to make some difficult decisions regarding resource allocations and strategic priorities. This may lead to internal uncertainty and conflict. The business planning process, however, can also be a good opportunity to gather employee feedback on potential ideas and improvements. You could hold a brainstorming session to gather knowledge and get your employee’s support, for example. They will value the opportunity to contribute to the business.
For already established businesses, a business plan will enable you to objectively look at what is working well and areas for improvement. Many business plans are formulated by organizations that are long past the start-up stage. There may be a need for a formalized plan to manage rapid growth, stakeholder expectations, or to secure funding for growth.
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A business plan outlines the long-term corporate strategy of a business, which informs and influences other plans within an organization. It is at the top of the business planning hierarchy, covering systems, procedures, resources,
and structure. A marketing plan, however, covers the sales, distribution, communications, and delivery of a product or service, intending to achieve the corporate objectives set out in the business plan.
Integrated with a business plan may be, for example, a marketing plan, a digital marketing plan, multi-channel marketing plan, and/or a campaign plan. The business plan informs these plans and vice-versa.
Different organizations will utilize differing plans, covering different areas and timeframes. What is crucial in a business is that the plans being utilized, the timeframes allocated, and how they integrate are collectively established.
To find out more about how different types of marketing plans and how to structure them, download our free Understanding different marketing plans guide, which includes campaign planning, digital transformation plans, and multichannel plans.
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