Everyone knows you need a business plan, yet many entrepreneurs don’t realize a marketing plan is just as vital. Unlike a business plan, a marketing plan focuses on winning and keeping customers; it’s strategic and includes numbers, facts and objectives. A good marketing plan spells out all the tools and tactics you’ll use to achieve your sales goals.
Situation Analysis: Make your situation analysis a succinct overview of your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Strengths and weaknesses refer to characteristics that exist within your business, while opportunities and threats refer to outside factors. To determine your company’s strengths, consider the ways that its products are superior to others, or if your service is more comprehensive, for example. What do you offer that gives your business a competitive advantage? Weaknesses, on the other hand, can be anything from operating in a highly saturated market to lack of experienced staff members.
Identify your Target Audience: Ask yourself the following: Are my customers conservative or innovative? Leaders or followers? Timid or aggressive? Traditional or modern? Introverted or extroverted? How often do they purchase what I offer? In what quantity? If you’re a business-to-business marketer, you may define your target audience based on their type of business, job title, size of business, geographic location or any other characteristics that make them possible prospects. No matter who your target audience is, be sure to narrowly define them in this section, because it will be your guide as you plan your media and public relations campaigns.
List your Marketing Goals: What do you want your marketing plan to achieve? For example, are you hoping for a 20 percent increase in sales of your product per quarter? Write down a short list of goals—and make them measurable so that you’ll know when you’ve achieved them.
Develop your Marketing Communication Strategy and Tactics: A good marketing program targets prospects at all stages of your sales cycle. Some marketing tactics, such as many forms of advertising, public relations and direct marketing, are great for reaching cold prospects. To identify your ideal marketing mix, find out which media your target audience turns to for information on the type of product or service you sell.
Set your Marketing Budget: ust bear this in mind—marketing is absolutely essential to the success of your business. And with so many different kinds of tactics available for reaching out to every conceivable audience niche, there’s a mix to fit even the tightest budget. Adjust your tactics until you have a mix that’s affordable. The key is to never stop marketing—don’t concern yourself with the more costly tactics until you can afford them.