A marketing plan can be vital to the success of your business, but writing one isn’t as easy as it may seem at first glance. If you don’t have much experience with this sort of thing, you may feel overwhelmed by coming up with such an important document that requires so much research and thoughtfulness into how your business will run down the road. Luckily, we’ve compiled 10 steps to help you create a successful marketing plan without stress or confusion! Before that, let’s discuss the benefits of a successful marketing plan.
BENEFITS OF WRITING A GOOD MARKETING PLAN
A marketing plan is perhaps one of the business’s most ignored management tools. When used correctly, though, it can help boost sales and take a company to new heights. A good marketing plan can provide direction for an organization’s future, saving time and money in advertising, staffing, product development and customer service. It helps businesses align their objectives with their resources, so they are spending money on things that matter.
Here are some benefits of writing a successful marketing plan:
Helps You Stay Focused on Your Business Goals
A well-written marketing plan will clarify your goals and keep you focused on your target audience. Having a clear vision for your business allows you to stay focused when deciding where to spend your advertising dollars or how much time you should spend developing new products or services. Without a marketing plan, it’s easy to lose sight of what you want your business to be.
Helps You Find New Customers
The best marketing plans include details about your customers and why they buy from you instead of someone else. If you don’t know who your customers are, then how do you know which types of ads will appeal to them?
Lets You Track Your Progress
If you write down specific goals and deadlines for each section of your marketing plan, it becomes easier to track progress toward those goals. For example, if you set a goal to reach out to 50 potential clients per month by phone and email, you can easily check whether or not you reached that goal at the end of each month.
Helps You Set Up a Budget
Once you have identified your goals and timeline for achieving them, it’s time to set up a budget. This is another area where many small businesses fail because they underestimate how much money they need to achieve their goals over a given period.
TEN STEPS TO WRITING A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS MARKETING PLAN
Step 1: Know your industry
The first step in creating a marketing plan is learning everything about your industry. That might mean studying what your competitors are doing, looking at historical data on consumer trends, or conducting surveys. Anything that helps you understand how customers interact with your market and what makes them buy (or not buy) is important in your marketing plan.
Step 2: Define your business goals
You’ll need to figure out exactly what you want your marketing plan to achieve, who you’re trying to reach and how you will do it. This could be as simple as establishing brand awareness or as complex as driving leads for your sales team. Be clear about your goals from day one so that every decision you make can lead directly back towards achieving them.
Step 3: Determine how you will measure success
Defining success isn’t just about how much money you make; it also means knowing what you want to achieve. The bottom line is that your business will succeed if you do what you set out to do. When it comes down to it, there are two things that all successful businesses have in common: They know exactly why they exist, and they can consistently deliver on their vision for their business. Remember, your marketing plan doesn’t end with a single read or implementation.
Step 4: Identify your target market
Before you write an ad, you need to know your target market. In essence, your marketing plan is all about reaching people who have shown interest in what you have to offer. For example, if you own a pet supply store, your target market is pet owners. A good rule of thumb is that if someone can pay for your product or service with their credit card, they’re a viable target customer.
Step 5: Analyze your competition
Take a look at your competitors’ sites, and figure out what they’re doing that you’re not. Identify gaps in your business plan, and then make a list of ways you can fill those holes by better marketing yourself. For example, if you notice that your competitor is getting more search engine traffic than you are, consider hiring an SEO company to boost your presence on Google. If another company is offering coupons or other promotions that are helping them gain market share over yours, try launching similar offers of your own.
Step 6: Create Personas for each of your target audience members
To hit home with your marketing campaign, you need to create personas. Personas will help you create targeted content focused on your target audience. Don’t worry; creating personas isn’t as time-consuming as it may sound. You can start by asking yourself questions like Who are my customers? What do they want? How old are they? Where do they live? What kind of income do they make? What is their level of education? How many kids do they have, and what ages are those kids? Are there any particular interests or hobbies that my customers might have in common?
Step 7: Create Audience Segments based on personas
You’ve determined your goals, and you have everything in place for crafting messages that speak directly to different customer segments. Now it’s time to determine who those segments are. To craft effective marketing messages, you need clear audience segments. A persona is an archetypal description of a customer segment based on information from surveys and interviews with target customers or people like them.
Step 8: List out where you’ll find leads.
A great way to stay on top of your marketing plan is to keep track of where you’re finding leads. Are they from social media? Organic search? Are you running ads and getting people from them? Wherever they come from, make sure you have a clear idea of how many leads are coming in to determine if your marketing efforts are working—and also know what other places may be successful for generating new clients.
Step 9: Decide on an acquisition strategy.
After completing all of your market research, it’s time to decide how you plan on acquiring customers for your business. For most businesses, marketing strategies can be broken down into two broad categories: inbound and outbound. Your acquisition strategy will depend on several factors, including your budget, sales strategy and personal preferences. However, it’s important to weigh all of these options carefully when choosing your course of action so that you don’t overextend yourself with an unsustainable acquisition plan.
Step 10. Make it happen!
Finally, once your plan is complete, you can’t just set it aside and hope everything comes together. Your business plan is an actionable document that will help you put your company on course to success. After all, a business plan only works if you do! Don’t wait—start taking action now.