Every business has one ultimate goal: to gain more customers and close more sales. You need marketing to do that consistently.
And though there are millions of strategies and tactics you can use, the starting point remains the same: have a well-crafted marketing plan.
After all, marketing is what drives your target audience to buy your product or service, bringing in the cash. But without a marketing strategy, it’s like going to war without your weapons.
The Marketing Plan Explained
A marketing plan is basically a blueprint that outlines the methods you’re going to implement to make your customers buy your products and services. It acts as a roadmap that walks through your marketing strategies, tactics, marketing activities, costs, and expected results.
It has to be detailed enough to contain the actions that small businesses need to do to accomplish their goals.
A marketing plan ensures you don’t get sidetracked and start chasing shiny objects (ooh, look, TikTok!)
You can create a marketing strategy good for a month, quarter, or the whole year.
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DO YOU KNOW YOUR MARKETING IQ
Marketing Plan Vs. Marketing Strategy: What's the difference?
Marketing strategy is the overall big-picture. It answers what you hope to achieve with your marketing and why. Knowing this makes getting buy-in from stakeholders and business owners much easier.
The marketing plan lays out exactly how you’ll achieve those strategic goals. It maps out the tactics you’ll implement (inbound and outbound marketing), the assets you need, and the processes and systems you’ll develop to help you level up your marketing game.
4 Purposes of a Marketing Plan
Every business needs a marketing plan because:
- It coordinates company goals and objectives.
- It defines the target market, allowing you to segment them according to your needs.
- It defines the marketing mix.
- It systematizes each activity for every marketing strategy.
Why Do Businesses Need Marketing Plans?
It doesn’t matter whether you’re running a small business or scaling a huge one — you still need to create a marketing plan.
After all, it comes with a whole bevy of benefits like the following:
1. It can help you create measurable business goals.
Clarity is super important when setting your business goals. It shouldn’t be as simple as ‘not going broke’ or ‘meeting annual sales KPIs.’ Otherwise, you’re just setting yourself up for marketing failure.
If you don’t have a clear target, you can’t implement marketing activities to help you reach what you want to achieve.
With a marketing plan, you can focus on tangible targets, improving your sales and business performance throughout the year.
2. A Plan provides consistency.
Whether you have a small team or a big one, a marketing plan makes sure you’re all on the same page. Everyone is given the exact instructions on what to do to meet the company’s business goals.
Without a marketing strategy, your plan will end up fractured and ineffective.
For example, some of your employees might work on social media, online content, or email marketing, while the other half uses print and radio ads.
3. It pushes you to stick with your budget.
Even a big business has to work on a set budget.
With a marketing plan, you can place importance on activities that yield the best results. It can save you from the headache of creating strategies that are not worth pursuing.
4. It helps you provide better service to your customers.
The importance of a marketing plan goes beyond the process. You can also use it as a guide in dealing with your clients.
When you understand what you need to do, you can address your audience better.
5. It gives your company the reality check it needs.
Businesses often have multiple objectives, and it can get confusing real fast if you don’t have a marketing plan to guide you.
It serves as a benchmark that reminds you if you’re hitting your marketing targets. You can make sure that your strategies are aligned and aren’t veering away from the business goals you had from the start.
6. It can serve as an excellent motivator to your marketing team.
Say you want to start your business by marketing ten items per day.
When your employees know the exact marketing strategies to employ to achieve that goal, they waste less time in brainstorming sessions and follow-up meetings. All they need to do is follow your marketing plan, and everything will fall into place.
7. A plan is the key to getting more investors.
Let’s face it: Building and running a business involves a sizable investment. If you want yours to grow in people, products, and income, you need to invest more capital.
One way to do so is to get different entities to invest in the product you’re marketing. But you won’t get the funding you need if you can’t present a marketing strategy that outlines your business direction. It’s massively important if you want to level up your company.
8. It can make you think and be proactive rather than reactive.
Planning lets you understand not just your target market and products but also the process of how you can bridge these two to achieve your business needs.
Teams with marketing plans are also more proactive. So you think about things in advance rather than just dealing with them when they occur. You’re able to pre-empt and solve issues immediately.
DO YOU WANT TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS RAPIDLY
How to Create a Simple But Effective Plan in 5 Steps
Step 1: Prepare all the documents you need for your marketing plan.
You’ve probably heard of the saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” The same goes for creating a good marketing plan — you can’t come up with many promising marketing ideas without much preparation.
For a seamless planning process, make sure to have the following marketing documents at hand:
- Latest financial reports, including operating budgets and profit and loss activity
- Sales figures by product and location for at least the last three years
- A list of new products or services, as well as their target customers
- Different marketplace documents, such as the list of competitors, regional boundaries, intended customers, current distribution channels, demographic data, and market trends
Step 2: Write about the market situation, as well as the threats and opportunities.
When you create your marketing plan, it’s absolutely essential to consider the current trends in the marketplace, like your market’s dollar size, selling and distribution setup, target audience, and even how much you’ve sold throughout the years.
Remember, you’ll also need to take note of the threats and opportunities your business faces. These include the customers’ demographics and the new trends that might be against you. And don’t forget to focus on exploiting the ones that work in your favor.
Step 3: List down your marketing plan objectives.
The focus here should be the business goal you wish to achieve in a specific time frame.
Each objective needs to be clear. It must describe what you want to accomplish in, say, a week or a month, even six months. So be sure to jot down the numbers you want to get.
If you have a hard time creating different objectives for your marketing plan, you can always refer to your old records.
If your business has managed to keep an 80% in gross revenues from customers this year, gunning for a simple 20% to 25% increase in activity is a pretty achievable target, in my opinion.
Again, your marketing plan must also include the tactics and activities you’re planning to do to achieve your targets.
Goal: Introduce the new X item to Roseville and sell 10,000 units for total revenue of $50,000.
- Promote the item and reach more customers online using email marketing or social media
- Run marketing ads in the local newspaper
- Get a radio ad in a local station.
- Obtain email addresses of Roseville residents by offering freebies on the website
- Create Facebook marketing ads targeting the Roseville market
- Contact newspaper people regarding ad rates and reserve an ad spot if you can
- Contact the station manager and inquire about placing an ad.
Step 4: Set a marketing budget.
Now that you have your marketing strategy in place, it’s time to talk numbers. I like to tell my clients that as long as you’re making a return on investment, why wouldn’t you keep plugging dollars back into your marketing activities?
But initially, you want to assign a specific budget so your team knows how much they can allocate for every promotion. The golden rule here is to add 25% more to your current estimate.
When establishing a budget, be sure to plan with the people who will be executing these activities. Their input will help you get a ballpark figure of the amount you want for each strategy. It also allows you to determine a point person who will keep a close eye on the budget and ensure it’s put to good use.
Step 5: Create an executive business summary.
Although this should be placed at the top of your marketing plan, the executive summary should be the last thing you do in your marketing plan. It serves as an overview of the content you have inside.
For easier reading, make sure your plan is written in simple sentences. Bold the most critical points, and list them down in bullets as needed.
Monitoring Your Plan's Performance
Successful marketing comes down to knowing your numbers.
- How are your marketing campaigns performing?
- Is your lead nurturing sequence converting?
- What messages work and which don’t?
- Does your target audience engage with your social content?
- Is your advertising effective?
- Are you tracking Google Analytics, and what do your results reveal?
- What resources are most popular?
Marketing isn’t just about putting a piece of content out there and hoping it sticks. You need to gather as much data and information as you can and analyze it to be sure you’re getting results and not wasting your money.
So add KPIs to each and every marketing activity.
Types of Marketing Strategies
A clear marketing strategy identifies which tactics your company will use to get your customers to know, like, trust, and buy from you.
If you’ve built an in-house marketing team, they may wish to create separate plans for each tactic, for example:
- Content marketing plans outline the articles you’ll write and post on your blog to rank in search engines. These can be built month to month or yearly in advance. SEO is one of the best ways to attract organic traffic and grow your audience.
- Media marketing plans outline which media you’ll use to reach your audience. This could be social media, PR, SEO, PPC, television, radio, podcasting, or Ted Talks, to name a few. In advertising agencies, you’ll be given a media plan that lists dates go-live/publisher dates, costs, and timelines.
- Social media marketing plans or a social content calendar break down the types of posts you’ll share across any given month.
A lot of big companies have annual marketing plans. That’s why I wrote the 1-page marketing plan. It’s something you can review every six months and only update when necessary.
Business Success Starts With A Sound Marketing Plan Strategy
As mentioned, there are many good reasons why your business must have a marketing plan. As the business owner, you need to own your marketing strategy. So it’s vital that you’re involved in the writing of your marketing plan. Although it can be challenging to build out, it’s essential to your business’s success. So, make it a priority.
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