A good marketing plan is key to any business endeavor. You wouldn’t go flying out into space without a destination in mind, proper preparation, and all of the necessary supplies, so why try to run your business without being prepared?
Great marketing means more customers, higher profits, and overall more growth for your business. Bad marketing can mean failure for you company.
Marketing campaigns are not something to just jump into and hope for success. Every detail of your marketing efforts should be planned out which is where having a marketing plan comes in.
Defining A Marketing Plan
A marketing plan is exactly what it sounds like, a plan for your company’s marketing. Specifically, a marketing plan is a document that covers a company’s strategy and current market position for a given period of time.
Traditionally a marketing plan will last 1-5 years. This doesn’t tend to work as well as creating marketing plans for shorter terms such as quarterly or semi-annually.
A good marketing plan will act as a blueprint that outlines all of your marketing efforts.
Your marketing plan can include everything related to your marketing, such as high level strategy as well as the particular tactics that will be utilized to achieve your company’s marketing goals.
What Your Marketing Plan Can Do For You
There are some serious benefits to having a good marketing plan. First and foremost, a good marketing plan will allow a company to alway keep a bigger picture in mind.
This can mean knowing where new efforts are going to get/retain new customers or when to expect spikes in business throughout the timeline of the marketing plan.
A marketing plan also helps create stability. In today’s marketing change is a constant and is of course inevitable, but many people are too fast to jump on the “next big thing”.
This can be very costly and risky; just because something is new and shiny doesn’t mean it’s the best solution for you, at least maybe not right that second. Having a well defined marketing plan provides a strategy that you can’t just ditch.
By approaching all you marketing efforts with a plan you are in essence forced to approach everything logically with analysis to determine whether it will work for you and whether or not it should be fit into a future marketing plan.
The 8 Key Aspects For Any Marketing Plan
Whether you’re a small town bakery or a national chain of retail stores, a marketing plan should contain the same key sections no matter your company size.
There can of course be more items added as necessary for your particular marketing plan, but these main items will create a strong base to get started with.
The 8 key aspects that should be included in any marketing plan are:
- An Introduction
- The Target Market
- All External Influencers
- The Budget
- All Goals & Objectives
- Marketing Tactics
- Any Ongoing Marketing
- The Marketing Plan Summary
Keep in mind internal factors such as employee vacations, new hires, etc. when creating your marketing plan. If these are expected and would majorly affect your company/marketing then these should also be included as their own section in your marketing plan.
This section will contain introductory data that will determine the direction of your marketing plan. This data could include analysis of current market trends, previous years financial data etc. Any data in regards to your business that affects your marketing should be included in this section.
The data in your introduction should be used to determine what new marketing efforts to start, which marketing efforts to continue, and which efforts to improve.
Determining your target market should be done before going any further with your marketing plan. If you cannot list out exactly who your marketing efforts will be aimed at then you need to sit down and figure it out.
Marketing can only be effective if it is reaching the correct audience. If you are running a butcher shop, you probably wouldn’t want your marketing to end up in front of vegans for instance.
Making sure to understand the area you are marketing in and the audience you are marketing for will help to make sure that you get a better ROI on your marketing efforts and better success for your overall marketing plan.
This is another aspect that affects every business no matter how big or small they are. External influencers can be things such as competition within your niche market, economic trends, social trends etc.
Simply put, your external influencers are any threat to, or opportunity for, your business.
Although this may seem obvious, it is very important to include your marketing budget. This should be much more than just how much your annual budget is though.
When including your budget you should list your annual budget as well as how that will be separated quarterly (some quarters may need bigger budgets than others), monthly even.
Planning how your budget will actually be spent, rather than just knowing what your budget is and spending as you go, will lead to a much more effective marketing plan and a better ROI.
Goals & Objectives
In order to have a successful marketing plan it is a must to set out all goals and objectives for the marketing plan. Setting goals is a great way to guide your marketing plan throughout its lifespan to make sure that you stay on course.
Every goal that is put down for your marketing plan needs to be backed by data or connected to a Key Performance Indicator (KPI). Setting goals without backing them with data can lead to wasted time and money.
Before a goal enters the marketing plan you should know whether that goal will help or hinder your marketing plan.
Your tactics are what you will use to achieve your goals. This includes everything that you will be using for your marketing efforts such as print advertisements, video marketing, guerrilla marketing, radio ads, etc.
Not only should you list out what your tactics are going to be, but the details behind those tactics. For every tactic you should know the purpose of that tactic in regards to the goal it is connected to, how it should/will affect that goal, and how you will be utilizing that tactic.
Ongoing Marketing Efforts
This is important to always list out in your marketing plan despite how often this can go overlooked. Listing out all ongoing marketing efforts is important so that they aren’t forgotten when it comes to budget/time.
Generally this includes marketing efforts such as SEO and social media. Any marketing that will be going on continuously across multiple marketing plans should be included.
This also doesn’t mean that these marketing campaigns should simply run in the background of new marketing plans. As with any marketing efforts, every campaign should be analyzed for success and good ROI.
This is especially true for your ongoing marketing campaigns as they can sometimes slip into the background and level out rather than being optimized for success.
Marketing Plan Summary
This is where you bring together a digestible version of your marketing plan. Your goal when writing your marketing plan summary should be that anyone that is new to the company could read only this section and get a good idea of your marketing plan.
This is also a great section to share with your entire company. Although you should always be open with your marketing plan to your employees, having a well-written summary makes it quick and easy for employees to get a brief understanding/refresher on what marketing is being done.
Every business needs marketing to be successful and marketing efforts need to be thought out and deliberate. Therefore every business, big or small, needs a marketing plan.
A good marketing plan is key to effective and successful marketing efforts.