Most people know they should have a business plan, yet so many of those same business owners don’t even consider building a marketing plan. A marketing plan is just as vital as a business plan. It is different to a business plan because its focus is on collecting and keeping customers.
A good marketing plan uses strategy, data, facts, and hard objectives. Your plan should include your goals and how you will achieve them. Think of a marketing plan as your plan of action, detailing what you’re selling, who’s going to buy it, and the things you are doing to generate new customers and more sales. These plans typically won’t need to be lengthy or elegantly written.
What is a Marketing Plan?
Marketing plans are documents that detail how to promote your business well. These plans are generally included as an add-on to your overall business plan. It’s important to understand exactly what you’re getting yourself into before you begin developing a marketing plan.
Image via Flickr by DENAN Production
There is no set length or optimal word count for a marketing plan. Big corporations’ marketing plans can be upwards of a few hundred pages, while a business run by only a single person might have just one or two pages. Both of these plans are correct and detail all the information one needs to market their business effectively.
Set your marketing plan to cover one year. This should be long enough to reach your long-term goals and short enough that you can grow and remain flexible as your business model changes over time.
What Are The “The 7 Ps” of Marketing?
The seven Ps are product, price, promotion, place, people, process, and physical evidence. They are also called the marketing mix. This concept is designed so that any marketing team, big or small, can use it to satisfy their target audience. Depending on your products, customer base, and company size, each piece of the seven Ps puzzle will need varying degrees of attention. You must understand each of these factors to create a marketing plan. Let’s take a closer look at the marketing mix.
Your product is what you’re selling. Every feature, benefit, and advantage your customers receive from purchasing your services or goods falls under this category. What are the key features of your product, and why should people buy it? Think of things like quality, styling, and accessibility. What are your research and development strategies to develop different products or ways to improve your business’s current products?
This is the cost of your product for customers, not the cost of manufacture. How much will you be charging your customers to buy your products? How will your pricing strategy affect your customers? You need to know how much your customers are willing to pay for your product, how much profit you need to make on each sale, what payment methods you will accept, possible sales or discounts you can offer, and any other costs associated with your products.
Every business needs to sell something; only how will your target audience know that your goods or services are being offered? Promotion is key to ensuring customers are aware of your product and what they can gain from business with your company. Advertising, sales promotions, sales tactics, and direct marketing will all be covered in this section. In need of a professional? CopyPress can help scale your promotional strategies among many social media platforms.
Where your products are going to be sold, seen, made, and distributed is the “place.” You should know how your customers will access your products. Determine whether you offer shipping or pick-up options online, how one could find your company’s website, or whether your retail location is close to your target audience. When selling from a retail location, use effective visual merchandising in your retail spaces to set yourself apart from your competitors.
These are the people who work for your business, including yourself. Providing excellent service to a customer creates a positive experience and, thus, markets your brand to them. In most cases, a happy customer is a returning customer. Not only will positive experiences bring a current customer back, but those customers will also generate new customers by spreading the word about your unbeatable service. Recruiting the right people gives your business a competitive advantage. Your training, recruiting, and turnaround rate are also included in this category.
This section is all about what is involved in delivering your products to the customer. Essentially, how easy are you to do business with? These are some important parts of a business’s process:
- Delivering a consistent standard of service.
- Creating highly efficient work strategies that save time and money.
- Educating yourself and your staff on business procedures and standards.
Physical evidence refers to what your customers experience when doing business with your company. For example:
- Your layout and design.
- Your packaging.
- Your branding.
- How staff dress, act and present themselves.
What your customers experience firsthand will determine how they view your company as a whole.
How to Create a Marketing Plan
Every business has lofty marketing goals that need a sound strategy to accomplish. Use these eight marketing steps when building your plan.
1. Know Your Business
Nobody knows your business like you do. Use this section to provide an overview of your business operations, including your internal and external environment. You should know how long the business has been running, your business structure, and what products are currently being offered.
2. Gather Information on Your Competitors
You would never have to worry about another company taking potential customers or cornering the market in an ideal world. In the real world, other companies in your field can cost you money. So you’ll need to stand above the rest in a unique way. Develop an understanding of your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses to help find ways to differentiate your company from the rest.
Initially, describe the services or products your company offers in detail. Use this step to expand the basic overview you made in the last step. Now, compare your services to your competitors’. Why should someone choose to buy from you rather than from a competitor? In other words, how are you different? Once you know what makes your business unique, you can begin to leverage that individuality to bring in new customers.
Looking so deeply into your competition, especially if these companies are doing well, will grant you valuable information. It can also show your potential investors that you are aware of the market as a whole and are prepared to overtake established competition if necessary.
3. Use a SWOT Analysis
The best-case scenario is consistent, high-quality opportunities that create new sales and provide growth for the company. You want your customers to be delighted to receive a call or email from your business, and you need to achieve that with a limited budget.
You can do all this by analyzing your SWOT. SWOT is short for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. These include:
- Your competitive position.
- Target markets.
- Target audiences.
- Current positioning.
- The maturity of your offerings.
- Channel partners.
4. Specify Your Target Audience
You might already have a sales process your business uses to create sales or long-term customers. As your company grows, the differences in each lead change significantly. Moreover, one message typically won’t work for all of them. A good option is to specify your most valuable audiences and customize your marketing approach for each customer type.
Apply a tactic called “buyer personas.” Buyer personas will represent your ideal customer. Your company might already have some data on the demographics most likely to purchase your products. This data can help you create different personas, such as customers who care most about long-term support and saving money or those who care about your products’ technical capabilities and how you deliver them. Specifying the types of people you will market towards and figuring out different strategies for each audience will greatly help if you are uncertain on how to develop a marketing strategy.
5. Decide on Your Marketing Goals
Now that you have your business strategy, you know your competitors, and you have defined your target audience, it’s time to set some goals. Goals will help narrow focus, organize thoughts, and provide a direction for your marketing strategy.
Write your marketing goals down and share them with your team. This will keep your team’s vision aligned on the top priorities and spell out what you expect to achieve. Your goals should be a mix of external and internal focus.
Write goals in a SMART format. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. Your marketing goals should look something like these:
- A 10% increase in sales to fishers by the end of 2021.
- Generate 20 leads in September for our company’s new product.
- Complete three new ad campaigns for 2022 by the end of November 2021.
6. Design Your Activity Plan
An activity plan will give you the necessary structure to achieve your marketing goals. One of the most effective ways of executing a marketing strategy is by using a campaign. Campaigns will focus your activity on one common goal or theme, which is especially useful with limited time and budget. Using this approach gives you a plan of attack before you get into the nitty-gritty of what ad to run or what book to publish.
A strategy takes a considerable amount of time and data to develop. Mapping out clear and cohesive plans that follow your initial goals can make this process a breeze. The more data you have, the better your activity plan can be. Do your research and try not to overlook any bit of information. No matter how insignificant it may seem, it may turn out to be important in the long run.
When deciding on your strategy, do some research online to test your approaches on customers or staff members. Choose a few tactics to start with and add more as poorer strategies fall away to newer untested schemes. Testing your plan can make a major difference in the success or failure of your marketing strategies.
7. Set a Budget
In your initial business plan, you most likely created a budget for your business’s finances. When you create your marketing plan, boil this budget down and focus solely on the costs of marketing-related expenditures. How much will be spent on marketing and promotions? How much will discounts and sales cost your company? Where will you get the money to supply your marketing actions to achieve the goals you set about in earlier steps?
Budgets should be precise. You don’t want to discover you under-budgeted something only when the bill comes due. Tweak and customize each financial requirement down to the dollar. Create a backup plan and ensure every dollar in the budget gets spent on bringing in more customers.
Set a marketing budget for the year while you are setting your business goals. An average number to set your marketing budget at is 6%-12% of your gross revenue. Businesses tend to spend more in the beginning phases of marketing to establish a foundation and create a cash flow.
Step 8: Create the Marketing Plan!
These are the steps required for creating the optimal marketing plan for your company. Remember that marketing plans don’t need to be complex. Simple and basic marketing plans are the easiest to follow. You really need to ask yourself throughout this process, “What is best for my company?” Now, it’s time to put your plan on paper, consult your marketing team, and start raking in new customers.
Whether your company has one or 1000 employees, these steps will give you the tools you need to achieve your marketing goals.