If you write a marketing plan it will help you decide which customers to target and how best to reach them. It needs to be clear and simple to help you attract and win new business. A marketing plan also ensures you keep your customers happy once they have bought your product or service and keeps your staff informed about how to achieve your aims.
1. Do your homework – a well-researched methodical plan will give your business a better chance of building and retaining profitable customers.
2. Set clear goals – establish your aims, decide what your business objectives are and ensure that they are realistic and can be measured over at least a three year timeframe.
3. Where are you now – conduct an audit of your business finances, market trends, analyse your competitors and aim to identify gaps in the market place where you could generate new business.
4. Target your audiences – identify who buys your products/services, who are your most profitable customers and how do they differ, what are their unique profiles (age, income, location)?
5. Brand review – conduct a brand audit too, see how your identity is perceived, determine how to convert your internal weaknesses into strengths, identify the external threats to your business in the market, and consider how to use your strengths to create opportunities to generate new business.
6. Marketing strategy – this is all about detailing clear marketing steps about where you want your business to be in three or five years; setting your marketing objectives (for example developing new products) with clear strategies to achieve them by segmenting your target audience carefully.
7. Messaging – it’s vital that your brand is on message and that you position your services appropriately to the right customer, detail your marketing tactics to meet and satisfy customer needs not what you want to give them.
8. Implementation – how you’ll achieve your goals is critical to the marketing plan’s success, what channels will you use – radio advertising, printed material, website, email marketing, social media – and what activities will be in your marketing toolkit?
9. Budget wisely – it’s important to forecast a budget against the marketing activity you decide to pursue to achieve your objectives; above all this needs to be realistic.
10. Measure activity – ensure your marketing plan is monitored and controlled carefully so that the sales forecasts and targets are realistic and are being achieved on time and on budget.
A key way to ensure your marketing plan doesn’t sit on the shelf or get filed and forgotten about is to have a shared action plan detailing who will do what and when, with short-term goals. This will keep everyone on track and focused on priorities to deliver the overarching marketing plan. So why not share your Marketing Plan tips and advice in the comments section below or on Twitter.