How To Create A Marketing Plan
Failing to create a marketing plan for your business is the quickest way to never reach any of your goals – put your business on the right path today.
Most business owners have heard of a business plan, and know that they need to have one in order to get funding and ultimately run their business successfully. However, something that is just as important but that is often overlooked is the marketing plan.
Creating a good marketing plan is the roadmap to getting noticed and becoming more successful, and it will help you to save money because you’ll know exactly what you should be doing and how much you should be spending. Your marketing plan should focus on winning customers and then retain their business, and it is vital to think about it carefully before embarking on any kind of marketing campaign. If you know you need to create a marketing plan but don’t know where to start, here are some tips.
The Situation Analysis
The first part of creating your marketing plan is the situation analysis. This is when you look at what your business is doing now and assess objectively whether or not it is working. You need to look at your products and services and work out what it is that makes you different from others in your sector; these differences are what will make up a big part of your marketing strategy, so you need to know what they are and how to use them.
You should also take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of your business. It is essential to know these and to be honest about them, as you will need to build on the strengths as you work on the making the weaknesses less of an issue. It might be to do with internal processes, external threats, or other factors such as a lack of confidence or knowledge. Once you know what these weaknesses are, you can work on them.
Finally, the situation analysis will need you to look at opportunities that might have come your way that you could capitalize on. It might be an expanding market, or maybe a news story that mentions your sector in a positive light. This is something that can be used in your marketing, and that is currently in people’s minds.
Your Target Audience
Before you can go any further with your marketing plan, or in developing any marketing campaign, you will need to know who your target audience is. If you don’t, you won’t know what direction to take your advertising, or which group of people you are positioning your product to. It is very unusual to find a product that will suit absolutely everyone; instead, most sectors are able to target their own specific audience through dedicated market research.
Once you know exactly what your ideal customer is like, including their age, their gender, what their family composition is, their likes and dislikes, their spending power, how they want to be approached and so on, you can create a marketing campaign that really speaks to them and encourages them to buy from you and no one else.
You absolutely need to know the who, what and how your competitors are doing in terms of marketing when it comes to creating your marketing plan. Understanding how your competition works, what they do when it comes to marketing and customer service, how they differentiate themselves, and what their products are like is crucial if you want to set yourself apart from them while also using their success as a springboard to your own. Having competition means that you’ll need to work harder to make yourself known, but it also means that you can get ideas about how best to position yourself and market your products.
The important thing to remember is not to be intimidated by these other companies. You need to be able to continue to do your own thing in your own way, but being armed with as much knowledge as possible about your competition will help you progress.
It is also hugely important that you know what your budget is for your marketing campaign, and this can also be set out in your marketing plan. If you overspend on this aspect of your business, you will necessarily have less to spend on other areas, and this could be a disaster. It’s true that your advertising could turn out to be a big success if you throw a lot of money at it, but if that means you can’t then deliver on what you are promising because your business has run out of cash, your reputation will suffer and your advertising spend will be wasted.
Once you have worked out a precise budget, you must stick to it. It could mean that you have to target a smaller audience than you would like to begin with, or that you can’t create as big a campaign as you thought you could. However, bear in mind that if this initial campaign is well thought out and successful, you will soon have enough money to do something bigger and better next time.
Funding your marketing campaign needs to be considered carefully. You might want to get a personal loan so that your business can make as much money as possible, and if that is the case, you should find out more about how to do this. You could fund the marketing campaign with savings, or directly from the company too. It will all depend on how much money you have to spend and how much it is going to cost you. This is why a plan is crucial so that you can work this out in advance.
Another step in your marketing plan is to write down what you want to achieve from your advertising campaign. Do you want to increase sales by a specific amount, for example, or do you want to have more followers on your social media pages? Perhaps you want to expand your business, and therefore your goal is to be known not just in your current location but in nearby towns as well, or maybe even further afield. Unless you have these goals in mind, it will be difficult to tell whether your campaign is successful or not.