The first step in promoting your business is marketing which involves lots of time, money and preparation to start with.
The best and effective method to make your marketing efforts successful is to develop a marketing plan. When you prepare this business document before entering into marketing, it serves to be a great tool to plan and reach your customers. A marketing plan clearly describes who your customers are, where they get information, and how you’re going to reach them.
Let’s now just have a sneak peek into the importance of developing a marketing plan.
- It serves to be a guide to the road of creating customer relationships.
- It clearly forecasts the survival of your product in the market by analyzing the current market position.
- You can neatly fix up the pricing range of your product/service by looking into your competitors’ services.
- It’ll serve to be a strategic document that you can use any time to track and measure the results of your marketing efforts.
- It helps you to control your business to go in the right way in terms of gaining customers and increasing sales.
- It aids you in staying focused towards your target rather than moving off the track.
- It makes you to professionally set goals and also assess your efforts time to time.
Preparations Before Developing a Marketing Plan:
Before you start putting up into your paper, first know that it should be your easily understandable company document. A marketing plan should outline all the elements of marketing and provide you with a clear direction of your marketing efforts for the coming year.
- Hey, stop here! Before starting to write, you need to gather all the necessary info to go in your writing flow without any break. Collect your company’s latest financial reports, list out your products along with the target markets, your competitors, and current distribution channels, types of customers, geographical regions, updated demographic data, and latest market trends.
- Analyze and write down your current market situation. This includes what your products/ services are, sales and distribution setup, geographic area, target audience, competitors and how well your products have sold so far.
- Go little more deeply into the subject by studying the threats and opportunities that are waiting for your business. This simply means examining both bad and good indications of your products’ market. What market trends favor/against you? Are there competitive trends that are threatening/beneficial to your business? Are the demographics of the market currently against/in favor of you? Talk to business professionals, ready trade journals and collect as much information you could about the impending threats and opportunities for your business.
- Now clearly state your marketing objectives and their corresponding goals. Note that each marketing objective should be followed by a set of goals and goals can be split up into practical marketing tasks (actions) to be implemented. This is the core descriptive process that you’re going to do setting up responsibilities and even delegating tasks among the resources you have.
- You cannot work out anything related to marketing without some money. So, just calculate the amount of money that you’d set aside for each marketing task and frame up a Marketing budget. And have control over your marketing plan by reviewing it atleast on a quarterly basis so that changes and adjustments can be made as and when required. Schedule quarterly meetings and discuss on what you’ve accomplished, what’s yet to be and how to do it.
OK and that’s it! You’re well prepared and you can get into developing your marketing plan.
STEP BY STEP GUIDE FOR DEVELOPING YOUR SMALL BUSINESS MARKETING PLAN
1.Outline Your Marketing Strategy
Before writing up your marketing plan in detail, you need to know what you want to accomplish in your business (that is, your business goals and objectives). This is your Marketing Strategy.
Marketing Strategy clearly outlines the WHAT & HOW of your business.
- What you want to accomplish and
- How you’re going to do it
Say, for example, all that you own now is a retail apparel shop and you wanna transform it into an online e-store.
What would be your marketing strategy for that?
To introduce your products to a new national market segment.
How would you do that?
You can further break down this marketing strategy into future long-term and short-term objectives. And then again reframe it into your specific marketing message.
Your marketing plan should be a more realistic and practical one by including a specific time frame too (like a 90-day plan).
2.Frame Up Your Mission Statement
A mission statement for your business should be an answer to the questions WHAT & WHY.
- What you’re trying to do?
- Why are you doing it?
The mission statement is the basis for your marketing plan. It doesn’t have any direct role in your business activities. But it focuses on the goals of your business and helps in making sure that the marketing efforts that you undertake support your business objectives.
3.Identify Your Target Market
Target Market will be your audience or the specific group of people that you wish to sell your products to. The more clearly you describe and recognize your target market, the more detailed and transparent your marketing plan will be in terms of potential customers.
- Who your target audience is
- Where you’ll find them
- What do they value as important
- What are they worried about
- What is their need right now
Finding out answers for these questions can help you build a sketch of the business or a person whom you would term as a ‘potential customer’.
4.Conduct a Detailed Competitive Analysis
The next step after identifying your target market is to know who your competitors are.
Who is selling something similar to your product out there? Who is selling those products to customers that fit your ideal target audience?
The best way to decide your marketing activities to your target audience is by looking at the competition in your business. Watch keenly and take note of what they’re doing right and where they’re lacking.
The ideal method to conduct a competitive analysis is by SWOT analysis, which is a strategic tool that finds out a company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. You have to evaluate your competitor company’s SWOT and your own SWOT so that you can measure up your level of competition and where you are.
By conducting a complete competitive analysis only you’ll know how and where to beat the competition, select your niche market and make sure you’re completely ready to jump into the competitive platform in business.
5.Come Up With Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
My friend, now that you know who your target customers are and who your competitors are, next is to take a wise step towards developing your marketing plan. You require a distinct approach that no one else adopts in the market in order to stand out of the crowd.
- What makes your business, products, and services unique and desirable to your target audience?
A Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is a statement that outlines how and in what way your business is unique from other competitors in the market. It stresses how you’re best than your opponents and why potential customers need to choose you over other sellers.
6.Work Out Your Pricing Strategy
At the start-up of your small business itself, you’d have very well worked out the prices of the different products/services that you offer. In your marketing plan, you gotta relate that pricing information to your marketing activities. Saying it more clearly, you have to analyze and work out your pricing strategy fit into your marketing sense.
Generally, while marketing you’ll always have to support your pricing points with the value and benefits that the customers get in return for using the product. And when you provide a high-value proposition the customer will automatically purchase it.
So, decide your price wisely to win your customer!
7.Organize Your Promotional Plan
Promotional Plan for your business includes all the communication that you build up with your customer. In other words, it answers the question:
- How you’ll get the word about your Unique Selling Proposition to your target market?
This comprises some of the marketing activities like Advertising, Direct sales, Internet marketing, Marketing Materials, Sales promotion and so on.
The key point is instead of mixing up all marketing actions, just select 3 or 4 activities and include in your promotional plan as per your outlined marketing strategy. It will work out wonders.
8.Calculate Your Marketing Budget
Side by side as you prepare the promotional plan, it’s essential to work out your budget too. As you’re a small business owner with limited money on hand, you gotta intelligently plan your promotional plan based upon how much you have.
You’ll have an annual marketing budget; split it up into affordable monthly budgets for carrying out the marketing activities such that they get you profitable Returns on Investment.
9.Create Your Action List
Yes, now you’re entering into the action part of your plan. Create a realistic task list that will help to carry out your marketing activities effectively. Find out
- What do you need to do?
- When did you need to do it?
And jot it down in your action list with timelines for each of the actions. This is the best step to achieve your goal as your action steps will help you to stay on track rather than going back each and every time.
Check out that your action list is created in a way such that it helps progress. Keep up due dates for actions and in smaller steps for actions to get completed on time perfectly.
10.Track and Measure Your Marketing Metrics
Well, you’re done with everything and you know what? All these preparations and planning will fly away with the wind if you do not possible measure and track your results and progress. Transforming your marketing plan into a breathable live blueprint lies in how effectively you adopt different metrics to measure and analyze how far you’ve put up your written marketing strategy into actions.
For example, online marketing can be tracked via Analytics.
On the whole, you can know how much success you’ve been in implementing this marketing plan only when you adopt different metrics for measuring it.