How to Create a Marketing Plan?
When you are starting a business a marketing plan is just as essential as a business plan. A marketing plan has strategic numbers, facts and objectives with the focus of attracting and keeping customers. The ultimate goal of a marketing plan is to offer a plan of action with tools and tactics to achieve sales goals.
For small businesses in their first years of business, they should be creating a marketing plan that covers one year. This will help a company quickly adjust plan when things change in the market or within the company. As a company grows and matures, make longer terms plans but most marketing plan initiatives should focus on the coming year.
Here’s a 5-step guide to creating a marketing plan:
Step 1: State Your Company’s Current State
In the first section of your marketing plan, you should have an over of your company’s current strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats. This succinct over of your company is known as situation analysis.
No matter what your industry, understanding your niche market and your competitors is essential to the success of your business. You must be able to show why your products or services provide a better value to your audience than your competitors do.
A situation analysis allows you to have the relevant information to help you know better how to competitively sell in your market.
Strengths and weaknesses focus on elements within your business, while opportunities and threats refer to outside factors.
When considering your company’s strengths, think about how your product is superior to others, or if your services are more comprehensive. What does your company offer that gives your business a competitive edge in the market? On the other hand, weaknesses can be anything from operating in a highly saturated marketplace to a lack of experienced staff.
Now think about any external opportunities you can take advantage of, such as expanding your market for your product. Your situation analysis should also cover external threats to your company’s ability to gain market share so that you can make detailed plans of how to overcome those threats.
Finally, it is time to position your product and this involves two steps. First, you must analyze your product’s features and decide how to distinguish your product in the marketplace. Second, decide what type of buyer is most likely to purchase your product. Are you selling convenience, quality or discounting pricing? You can’t offer it all. When you know what your customers want it helps you decide what to offer.
Step 2: Describe Your Target Audience
The next step of your plan is describing your target audience. Write down a simple, short profile of your prospective customer. Describe your customer in terms of demographics like age, sex, family composition, earnings and geographic location – as well as lifestyle.
Ask yourself the following questions about your customers:
- Are they conservative or innovative?
- Leaders or followers?
- Timid or bold?
- Traditional or modern?
- Introverted or extroverted?
- How often do they purchase what you are offering? And, in what quantity?
Narrowly define your target audience in this section because this will be your guide as you plan your adverting and media campaigns.
Step 3: List Your Marketing Goals
In the next steps, ask yourself what you want your marketing plan to achieve for your business. Are you hoping for a 25% percent increase in sales? Make a short list of your goals and make them measurable so you know when you achieved them.
Step 4: Develop a Strategy
This is section is the main part of the marketing plan because it gives you the tactics to use to reach your goals.
A successful marketing plan targets prospects at stages of a sales cycle. There should be a focus for reaching cold prospective through tactics such as advertising, public relations, directing marketing and social campaigns. For warm prospects, those who’ve already been exposed to your marketing message and perhaps have even been customers – those customers respond best to permission-based emails, loyalty programs and customer appreciation events.
Outline primary marketing strategies and include a variety of tactics to reach your prospects at any point in your sales cycle. To make your marketing specific, find out what media your target audience turns to for information and focus your message there. Chose marketing tactics that reach your prospects when they are most receptive to your messaging.
Step 5: Set a Marketing Budget
Now that you know how essential your marketing plan is to your business, make sure you devote a percentage of your gross sales to your annual marketing budget. When you are starting a business this might mean using newly acquired capital through funding, borrowing or self-financing. It might be tempting to skimp on this expense when you are starting a business but a marketing plan is essential to the success of your business. And with so many different tactics, there will be a mix to fit even the smallest budgets.
As you add up the costs for the marketing tactics you planned in other steps, you might that you have gone over budget. Simply, go back and adjust your planned tactics until you have a marketing mix that fits your budget.
When you stop marketing, you stop trying to attract business to your company. So, keep your business active by investing in your marketing.
This article will also discuss:
What Should Be Included in the Marketing Plan?
Here are the most essential parts of a marketing that can be used to help your business create marketing plans to achieve sales goals.
Target Market: Make sure you outline the demographics of your buyers. Who is buying your products and services? Where are they located? How old are they? What is their sex? You need to have an idea of your ideal customer to know how to target your marketing tactics towards them.
Positioning Statement: This is a statement that helps you set apart from your competitors and provide clarity about how you want to brand your product or services throughout the marketing process. Answer this question here – what does your business do better than anyone else can do?
Value: Now that you know what makes you know what makes your business unique, think about what will make your customers pick you over your competitors. What value do you bring into the market and to your target audience? Why can they only come to you for this?
Goals: Review the goals you established in your business plan and create a marketing plan that helps achieve these goals. What sales need to be achieved to reach your overall business goals?
Pricing Strategy: Pricing plays a significant role in how you create your marketing message. What will you charge for your product and services? How does that price inform who you are selling to? Why did you select this price point? What sales and discounts could you offer?
SWOT Analysis: This is the section of your plan where you outline your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and that of your competition. The data uncovered will help you formulate a plan to improve your marketing message and open your eyes to what your competition is doing.
Budget and Planning: This section outlines how much you will spend on marketing in a sales cycle and the breaks the plan into actionable steps. There are plenty of tactics and plans for every budget.