You probably already know that marketing plans are an essential tool to help you organize your marketing activities, and to help you forecast your results and stay on track with all of your goals. But sometimes, it’s hard to put one together yourself; it can feel like too much work, or you may not know where to start. To make it easier for you, we have created a step-by-step guide that will take you through the entire process of creating a great marketing plan, so that you have all the data and information you need at your fingertips to achieve your business goals.
What Is A Marketing Plan?
A marketing plan is a roadmap that outlines all of your marketing strategies, tactics, costs and projected results over a period of time. A marketing plan keeps your entire team focused on specific goals, it’s a critical resource for your entire company.
Why Write One?
A marketing plan is essentially an idea, strategy and action plan. The benefits of creating one include keeping everyone on your team focused on specific goals, it’s a critical resource for your entire company. They outline every aspect of marketing that you’re responsible for, which allows you to focus on each aspect individually, as well as examine what is currently working and not working for you. Also, make sure that you create one with input from other people in your organization—the more eyes looking at it the better.
Understanding who your customers are and how they perceive you is essential before diving into any marketing campaign. The first step in creating your marketing plan should be conducting market research, which includes determining your position in the marketplace. A common approach used by many businesses is positioning yourself against a competitor of similar size, market share and similar offerings. If you do not have direct competitors, you may need to conduct more extensive research about what sets you apart from all other organizations in your industry. Once you’ve determined how best to position yourself, it’s time to develop your marketing strategy based on that positioning. Remember – define what success looks like so that everyone on your team has an idea of how they can contribute toward achieving these goals.
Defining your brand is one of your most important goals as a marketer. Your brand should reflect your company’s values and personality. It should also be easy for customers to understand, remember and identify with. Once you’ve defined who you are, write down all of your messaging platforms (website, social media accounts, etc.) so that you can keep everything in line with your target audience. This will ensure that you provide consistent communication throughout all channels so that customers are always getting accurate information from you. These steps will help define your brand and provide guidance for further marketing efforts in the future.
Before you can have a marketing plan, you need to understand your product or service. What is it? Who uses it? How does it work? Why will customers buy it? Can other companies use it too? Write down your answers and figure out how they match up with potential customers. Is there an industry problem that your product solves or are people just looking for more options?
Detailed Goals By Product, Distribution Channel and/or Customer Segment
Without goals, your marketing plan is just a long list of tactics and hopes. Goals help you build urgency into your entire strategy, so everyone is on board with what you’re trying to accomplish. Think about these key areas: what products do you need to develop or launch? What distribution channels should you be in (retail, direct-to-consumer, etc.)? Who are your target customers and how will they interact with your brand? These questions should help guide how you define your goals.
Before you can invest time and money into your marketing plan, it’s important to know who you are trying to sell your product or service to. Once you know who will be buying from you, it’s easier to develop an effective marketing plan that targets their needs. Start by thinking about what kind of person would use your product or service: Is it for business owners? Stay-at-home moms? College students? Envision how they use your product and what problem they have that your product solves. Now, create three separate plans based on these three buyer personas. It’s likely that each persona will want something different out of your marketing materials and messages so start by defining who these people are and think about their specific needs first.
Major Marketing Campaigns
Creating and running a major marketing campaign is no small feat. There are so many pieces that have to be considered, from planning, purchasing, production and implementation. Creating your plan should not be taken lightly as it will take time and require resources; however, if you do your homework upfront you’ll reap great rewards in brand awareness for your company. You should begin by determining exactly what goal you’d like to achieve with your campaign (e.g., increased revenue, greater customer retention) then strategize how best to achieve it using an array of tactics such as social media campaigns, new product launches or event marketing. This will vary depending on your business’ goals but there’s certainly no shortage of options.
Your marketing plan should outline your strategies, but it’s important to note how much you’re expecting each tactic to cost. Before you set out your plan, lay out all of your potential costs and make sure that everything adds up. If you’re hiring an agency or freelancer, be sure to include their fees as well. It will help keep everyone on task and ensure that your efforts are properly aligned with projected outcomes and objectives.
Dates to Review Progress
April 30, May 31, August 31 and November 30. Set clear and realistic goals : Having clearly defined goals means you know where you’re going. To make your goals as effective as possible, they should also be (1) measurable, (2) achievable and (3) time-bound. A good marketing plan will include both short-term objectives for upcoming months along with long-term milestones you’ll achieve over several years.
To make sure you’re headed in the right direction, take your time creating your marketing plan. Don’t be afraid to step away from it for a few days or even weeks if necessary. Coming back with fresh eyes will help you see whether something is missing or if there are holes in your strategy that need filling. Having said that, you should work as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality of execution and brand integrity. The sooner you get your marketing plan finalized, approved and rolled out across all channels, the faster you’ll start seeing results.