A marketing plan is one of the most important tools a business can implement. Regardless of the size of your business or which stage your business is in, a marketing plan will provide clarity, consistency, and FOCUS that will help you reach your business goals.
What is a Marketing Plan?
Marketing plans can vary in format, but they all share a common goal of attracting and building relationships with clients. A marketing plan is a roadmap for how you will communicate with your target audience to successfully promote your business, products, or services. It provides an overview of the what, why and how of all your marketing activities and is set out over the year, quarter, or month ahead. Marketing plans can be very basic or highly detailed, depending on what you want to accomplish.
A well-defined marketing plan allows you to align your marketing goals with your business goals. It helps keep you focused, allowing you to plan ahead of time and therefore make better decisions as you know exactly what you want to achieve.
A marketing plan typically includes:
- Overview of long-term and short-term business and marketing goals
- Description of target market and customer needs
- Outline of marketing strategy
- Description of marketing tactics or action plan including marketing channels, timeline, budget & KPI’s
For a more detailed marketing plan, you can also include a market and competitor analysis and overview.
Plan for Success – Create a Marketing Plan!
There is no one way to create a marketing plan, but we always advise our clients to start with establishing your business goals and associated deadlines. These goals should be specific and realistic, and you should have both short- and long-term goals. If you want your marketing plan to be a success, it needs to be aligned with your business goals -your marketing plan is there to support your business goals.
1. Outline your Business Goals
When starting your marketing plan, first consider your business objectives – from revenue generation and market penetration to brand awareness and the number of new customers you want to acquire. Be specific in what you want to achieve for your business.
2. Define your Target Customer
Knowing your target audience is one of the most important parts of your marketing plan. If you don’t know who are selling your product or service to, the money and time you spend on marketing activities will be a waste.
3. Determine your Marketing Strategy
Now that you have clarified your business goals and who you’re targeting, it’s time to look at the marketing strategy you need to implement to achieve results. This is where you need to get very specific and break down your broader business goals into smaller, tangible marketing goals. Starting with your big goals, create a mind-map of smaller goals that will help achieve your business objective. For example, if your business goal is to “Grow Revenue”, try to create more specific marketing goals such as:
- Generate 50 leads from social media every month
- Increase email marketing list by 10% every month
- Perform 2 demos/week
4. Create an Action Plan
At this stage, you need to map out the different steps that need to be taken to implement your marketing plan. One of the easiest ways to achieve this is by mapping out your different marketing channels and listing all the actions to make under each category. Your marketing channels can include
- Word of mouth
- Social media & email marketing
- Trade shows, demonstrations, and events
- Print & broadcast (newspapers, magazines, TV, radio…)
5. Define Budget, Timelines & KPI’s
Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive but it’s always a good idea to create a marketing budget to ensure you have the resources to implement your plan – factor in any purchases you need to make (photos, videos..), advertising budgets, outsourcing fees… This will also allow you to analyze Return on Investment (ROI) and help plan for future activities.
You also need to set deadlines for each action item – estimate when you need to start each activity and the time it will take to complete the action. Marketing plans need to be dynamic and adjusted depending on your business situation. As activities move forward, you’ll most likely find yourself adjusting timing, budget and perhaps the tasks themselves. Don’t worry, this is normal, just make your changes in an organized manner and adjust all the dependent tasks so everything moves as a whole.
Finally, for each marketing activity, decide how you are going to measure, track and report progress. The metrics you use will largely depend on your business goals.
Hopefully, you can now see why having a marketing plan is important for the success of your business. It is possible to build a business without a marketing plan, but it will take you longer to reach your goals. A marketing plan will ensure that you are proactive and aligned with your business goals, help organize your time and your priorities and create a set of measurable goals that you can work towards.