A marketing plan is an integral part of your overall business plan. It is designed to identify your ideal target market and how you can reach it. A marketing plan is important in winning and keeping customers. It is strategic, objective, and spells out all the tools and tactics you’ll need to achieve your sales goals. When creating a marketing plan, you need to answer important questions about your business vision, mission, goals, including your strengths and weaknesses. This will enable you to develop an effective marketing plan that will support your overall business mission.
According to research, businesses with marketing plans outperform competitors, succeed, and retain staff more than those with no plan. Without a plan, the company will have no direction. As a result, decisions can be uninformed, opportunities missed, and these threats can damage the business image.
Steps in creating a marketing plan
These 5 steps will help you create a marketing plan:
Step 1: Evaluate your company’s current situation
This is the first section. Also known as “situation analysis,” it is where you define your business, products/services, and how the benefits you offer sets you apart from your competition. No matter your industry, you must have an understanding of your niche market for you to excel. While you should be able to describe what you market, you must also have a clear understanding of what your competitors are doing and show your prospects how your product/service provides a better value. Your situation analysis should offer a concise overview of your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis). While strengths and weaknesses refer to the characteristics that exist within your business, the opportunities and threats are the external factors.
Step 2: Define your target audience
The next step is developing a simple profile of your prospective customer. Your prospects can be defined in terms of their geographic location, demographics (age, income, education, gender, family), lifestyle, etc. Try to find out if your customers are either:
- Traditional or modern.
- conservative or innovative.
- Introverted or extroverted.
- Leaders or followers.
- Aggressive or timid etc.
You should also know how often they do purchase your products/services and in what quantity.
Step 3: Compile a comprehensive list of your marketing goals
What are the goals of your marketing plan? For example, are you expecting a 20% increase in sales of your product monthly or quarterly? Make a list of your goals. They should also be objective and measurable so that you’ll know when you’ve achieved them. Your goals must be specific, realistic, and divided into short and long term for better productivity.
Step 4: Research your marketing tactics
This is the time to detail all the tactics and strategies you’ll implement to reach your prospects and achieve your goals. A good marketing plan should target prospects at the various stages of your sales process. For example, some marketing tactics, like online advertising, direct marketing, and public relations, are best suited for reaching cold prospects (those who are seeing your business for the first time). However, warm prospects (those who’ve previously seen/heard about you) usually respond best to loyalty programs, permission-based emails, customer appreciation events, etc. To complete this section, carefully outline your primary marketing strategies, including the various tactics you’ll use to reach your prospects at any time. You might use email to target your warm prospects but combine print marketing, billboards, and local online searches for your cold prospects.
Step 5: Set your marketing budget
For most people, the word “budget” is enough to send them running for the hills. But, as you already know, this is a necessary evil when it comes to running your business. Your marketing plan budget is different from your overall business plan because you must focus strictly on marketing related activities. When setting your budget, determine how much you plan to spend on marketing and promotion weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually. It’s also important to know how much each item you listed will cost you and where this money will come from. When starting a business, you could use newly acquired funding, borrowing, or self-financing.
Marketing plans vary from basic and simple to comprehensive and complex and also depends on what’s best suited for your own business.