What is a Marketing Plan?
Your marketing plan is your written roadmap implementing your marketing strategy. Your marketing plan focuses on winning and keeping customers. It’s your action plan specifying what you’ll sell, who will buy it, and the tools and tactics you’ll use to generate leads that result in sales.
It serves as a guide to keeping your marketing and advertising focused on your goals. As such, it is a living document and needs to be updated as circumstances change.
Do You Need a Marketing Plan?
The short answer is YES! You need a marketing plan. A well thought out marketing plan is just as vital as a well thought out business plan.
No business is too small to not need a marketing plan. After all, even the smallest business needs new clients, customers or patients.
Creating a Marketing Plan Sounds Complicated?
Your marketing plan can be quite simple or very detailed depending on your overall goals and objectives. Your personal style and business operation objectives will determine which is the right choice for you.
The Simple Marketing Plan
is your business a single person operation serving a limited geographical area.
Let’s take Mike for example. Mike has been a blacksmith hobbyist for a few years. He has built wrought-iron torch holders for family and friends. His skill level has reached the point where he is being urged to start selling them as a business. Mike doesn’t intend to grow beyond his local community or hire any help. A simple business plan works well for Mike.
The Detailed Marketing Plan
Sue has other ideas. She has been well known in her local neighborhood for having the best selection of designer brand second-hand clothing available in her small store. Sue sees the opportunity to expand into a bigger store, open a second location in a nearby community and start selling online with an e-commerce website. This will require Sue to hire employees and have the website built and successfully promoted. Sue needs a detailed marketing plan. If she intends to bring on a partner or borrow money to grow the business, she’ll also need a comprehensive business plan.
How do You Create Your Marketing Plan?
Whether you determine you only need a simple marketing plan or you need the advanced plan, the steps are the same. The only difference is in the amount of the details. Let’s take a quick look at the six steps.
The Six Steps to Creating Your Marketing Plan
Step 01: Define where you are now.
A successful Marketing Plan begins with a Situation Analysis. A Situation Analysis is a detailed review of your current situation, goals, and expectations. This first step defines your company in terms of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and treats.
Step 02: Describe your target audience.
Develop a profile of your ideal client, customer or patient. Is your business a “Business to Business” company? Demographics such as the type of business you will market to, their geographic location, business size, etc. affect your marketing plan.
Is your business a “Business to Consumer” company? Demographics such as age, sex, location, lifestyle, etc are important considerations.
Or, do you do business with both? Create a seperate profile for both.
Step 03: List your marketing goals
Write down a short list of goals and make them specific and measurable. Don’t say: “Increase sales”. Do say: Increase sales by X% by Y date.
Step 04: Outline your primary marketing strategies and tactics.
How will you reach new prospects – Your COLD Market? How will you reach your current and former customers – your WARM market? Should you use email, search engine optimization, pay per click, or social media? How about billboards, direct mail, radio, or television?
Step 05: Set your marketing budget
Marketing is absolutely essential to the success of your business. You’ll need to devote a percentage of projected gross sales to your annual marketing budget.
You may discover the cost of your marketing strategies and tactics exceeds your anticipated budget. In which case, you may need to consider borrowing the needed money or self-funding your marketing program at first. The other option is to go back and adjust your tactics until you have a marketing mix that is affordable. The challenge is to not cut the budget to the point where it is no longer effective.
Step 06: Implement, review, and adjust.
Don’t just launch your marketing plan and forget about it. It’s important to review the results often What’s working? What’s not working? That way you can adjust the mix accordingly.
Should you hire professionals to create your marketing plan?
The simple answer is NO and YES. Let’ just say it can be complicated!
No, if all you need is a simple plan for a small business and you are getting the results you want. Just don’t forget the last step in the “Six Steps to Creating Your Marketing Plan”. Implement, review, and adjust.
Yes, if your business plan and marketing plan is complicated or your not getting the results you need.
The key is to never quit marketing. Your competitors won’t!