A marketing plan is your essential guide to promoting and growing your business. From day one, the effectiveness of your marketing activities has a direct impact on your bottom line. It’s the engine that drives your sales, so to make the most of it you need a solid plan of action. It takes careful planning, research and a comprehensive understanding of the marketplace to develop a strategy that will ensure the success of your business. So what needs to be included in your marketing plan, and how do you go about writing it?
Why Should I Write a Marketing Plan?
Writing your marketing plan is more than just an exercise in writing down strategies. The planning process helps you to understand the different factors that may affect your success and develop your plans in detail. It will help you hone your messaging, define your tactics for selling and help you start building up your online presence from day one, giving you a head start on many other businesses. It also helps with the management and control of your day-to-day marketing. When developing your marketing plan, you’ll be able to allocate resources and budget to each marketing stream, plan for growth and track marketing efforts through measurable goals.
Know Your Targets and Competition
Before you can understand how to sell, you need to identify your target market. You need to know the age, gender, background, lifestyle, location, spending patterns and so much more about your customers. Once you can identify the buying patterns and motivations of your target market, you can then start planning how to meet those needs. Understanding these factors will help you focus your marketing approach to suit your customers, and of course, understanding your competition is important too. A marketing plan is a strategic document that helps you to assess the competitive landscape and decide strategies for winning customers over your competition.
What Should Be in a Marketing Plan?
A good place to start is by writing down an overview of your products and services. Then perform an audit of any marketing activities and communications you have already undertaken for each of these services. Mapping their success, relevance, total cost and ROI is crucial. Ensure you identify any barriers to success that might be hiding in your business model. You should also undertake critical competitor analysis to understand areas you can compete in, and include a segment detailing your target audience and their needs. Once you have a good idea of who your target audience are, you can start to develop an idea of what marketing approaches will work best for them. So if you find that your target audience utilize a certain platform in a certain way, you can tailor your marketing to ensure you are on those platforms and using them in a way that aligns with their values. By using some key information about your target audience, you can identify and hone in on the most successful marketing activities for you, instead of stumbling around and discovering it the long way and you don’t waste time with things that won’t work. Finally, you should also ask yourself what you want to achieve with your marketing, and set yourself targets and goals. This will help keep you in check and give you a good measure for success. It will also help you understand what metrics you should be tracking. So for example, if you’re looking for increased awareness, you will need to keep an eye on your impressions across the board. Metrics are one of the most important parts of your marketing efforts, as these help you to track how well your marketing is going. If you aren’t seeing the results you wanted, you can then make changes.
The main benefit of a marketing plan is arguably not the finished plan itself. It’s going through the planning process, engaging in valuable research and asking yourself important and sometimes difficult questions about your business. Sure, you could launch and run a business without a marketing plan, but why would you want to?