All good marketing programs begin with a marketing plan. Whether you’re dealing with a small business with a tight budget or a multi-million pound enterprise with deeper pockets, marketing plans are the foundation to effective presence online as well as offline.
Your marketing plan regardless of size should be well structured, based on real research, and with realistic attainable goals. This plan, once implemented, must remain flexible enough to adapt to unforeseen market changes, and should be structured in a way that you can enhance the elements that prove effective.
Once you’ve put together your marketing plan – make sure you keep it on file and refer back to it at every opportunity. It will keep you on the right track and help you achieve your marketing goals.
Marketing Plan Basics
A. Do your research
Write down data about the market that is currently buying your product(s) or service(s). Some things to consider are:
- Purchasing patterns for your item (is it seasonal, when is the “on” season when more people purchase from you)
- Your customer demographic such as, which market segment, what is the target market, what are the customer needs, who makes the buying decisions?
- About your product, you need to know who else is offering the product, and what are they offering.
- What is the total sales for that item or type of time/service and how much of that can you expect to obtain?
- How is your product measured or what are the benchmarks in your industry?
- Supplier reliability, in the event that your campaign goes well, are your suppliers ready to provide you with the added volume of goods?
B. Who’s your target?
You must know who your target is. Describe your typical customer here. (age / gender / income level / race / disposable income, etc…)
C. What’s your product?
Define your product. What needs does it meet? Is there another product that people are using instead of yours? What can your product do better than your competition? How does it differ?
D. Who’s your Competition?
List all of your competitors here. What are their strengths and weaknesses? (It helps to put yourself in your customers’ perspective and look at your competition in a more unbiased way)
E. Declare a mission (Statement)
This is a couple of sentences that will define your campaign. It should be basic, brief, and inspiring.
- It should clarify your purpose
- It should focus your energy and motivate
- It should attract customers and be engaging
F. The Strategies to get you there
What marketing strategies are you going to utilize to affect the marketplace towards your enterprise?
Here are some strategies to consider:
- Networking – go where your market is and interact with your potential customers
- Direct print marketing – sales letters, brochures, flyers
- Traditional Advertising – print media, directories, television, radio
- Training programs/Workshops – to increase awareness through open invitation “breakfast” workshops
- Write articles, give advice, become known as an expert
- Direct/personal selling
- Publicity/press releases
- Trade shows
- Social Media
- Search Engine Marketing
G. Determine your Product Pricing and Branding
Based on the information you’ve collected so far, should you modify your price? Establish that pricing here. In addition, establish “Branding” Guidelines for your product. This includes; colour schemes, associated typefaces and sizes, positioning, etc. These must be consistent in order for you to establish market awareness.
H. What’s your marketing Budget
Determine what you can spend. Allocate monies to the various strategies you’ve determined to be most effective. Figure out what elements you need to outsource, and what you can handle in-house.
I. Set Goals
Create quantifiable marketing goals. This means results you can measure.
For example, your goals might be to get 10 new clients or to sell 50 products more per week.
Your goals can also include sales, profits, or even customer’s satisfaction.
J. Check Your Results
Be constantly monitoring your campaigns during flight and identify the elements that are working and not working. (Make sure you “trim the fat” and re-allocate your budget to those elements which do work).
After your campaign: Survey customers
Track sales, leads, visitors to your web site, sale conversions, etc.
By researching your markets, your competition, and determining your unique positioning, you are in a much better position to promote and sell your product or service. By establishing goals for your marketing campaign, you can better understand whether or not your efforts are generating results through ongoing review and evaluation of results.
As mentioned earlier, be sure to review and revise your plan as needed. Successful marketers continually review the status of their campaigns.
Marketing Plan – 10 tips
Here are some top 10 tips on how to put together a good marketing plan.
Before you do anything else, sit down and think about where you want your business or company to be. Consider what you want and write your goals down. Take a moment to really think about what you want to achieve, the audience or clients you want to attract and the way you want to move forward. This simple step will set you off along the right marketing path.
A crucial part of the marketing process is to consider the competition. Who are they? What are they selling? How are they selling their products, services or work? What’s their unique selling point? How much do they charge? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What are they not offering that you could? These are all important questions and it’s always good to research and check out the competition to help shape your own business goals.
Next, look at your target customer or audience. Who are they? What appetites do they have that you could feed? What problems do they have that you could offer to resolve? Is there any “gap” in the market you could be filling? Really try and get to grips with your target market to assess how your business can offer something they want and/or need. Remember, people are always looking for solutions. If you can help them, that’s where your business should be focused.
Another crucial step is to assess how people are buying what you are selling. Where do these people go to find out what’s available? Do they buy tickets online? If so, what performances do they prefer? When are they likely to buy? When are they more likely to part with their cash? What problems do they have and what solutions are they after? There’s no point in going full throttle with a marketing plan without first understanding the wants and needs of your target market, so make sure you do plenty of research.
Don’t just research your competition and customer base. Have a look at your own company or business and consider what your own strengths and weaknesses are. Look at your skills and expertise. Uncover whether you have any niche customers, audiences or potential niche markets. Think about what you could be offering to target those markets. If you discover everything you need to know about yourself, your competition and your target market, you’ll be able to position your own organisation in such a way that it makes you a success.
Now you’ve done all your initial research and know more about who you are and what your customers want, you’ll be able to get your marketing message right. Ask yourself the following questions. What is your brand? Do you have a strap-line? Do you have any slogans? What’s your unique selling point? Come up with a defined marketing message for your organisation or venue that will show potential customers what you’re about while still satisfying their wants and needs.
Before you launch a full marketing campaign, put together some goals. Ask yourself this: what do you want your marketing to achieve? Are you going to give yourself a timescale? How are you going to measure your marketing goals? Set some goals that are easily measurable and ensure you have the systems in place to keep track of all your marketing.
There are many ways to market your business and not all of them will work for you. Consider which methods you’re going to use and always bear in mind anything you’ve done in the past that has or hasn’t worked. Look at new ways to raise your profile and if in doubt, look to your competition and see what they’re doing. Remember, no two businesses are the same, so while an expensive advertising campaign might work for one creative company, it doesn’t mean it’ll be right for you.
Now you’re fully prepped and you know who, what, where, when and how to target your market, it’s wise to put an official strategy together. Something that you can refer back to so you’re always on the right track. Consider what needs setting up, your milestones, deadlines and next steps. And always ensure you have systems in place to monitor and evaluate your marketing, so you’re able to review in the future.
A marketing plan will help you to stick to your marketing goals and ensure you’re not wasting any valuable time or money overall. It usually involves an initial “business description” that outlines who you are and what you do. It can then also include details of your target market, competition, marketing goals and marketing methods along with your overall budget and strategy. Basically, everything you’ve researched to reach this point.