Step into the world of creative marketing and learn what a marketing plan is and how to create a marketing plan that will drive your business to success.
The easiest things in life are usually the hardest to comprehend. This is especially true when it comes to marketing and planning. A lot of people tend to overlook this moment when they’re just starting their business, and that’s a major mistake.
Have you ever heard of an expression “Think first, act second?” It’s a great formula to live by, especially in today’s ever-changing world. Having a marketing plan on your hands can make a huge change. It’s basically your main competitive advantage at the start.
Here in this article, I will explain what a marketing plan is and what makes a great one for any business. Before we get deep into the details, let’s start with the basic definitions.
What Is a Marketing Plan?
According to the Entrepreneur, a marketing plan is a written document that describes your advertising, promotional, and marketing efforts for the coming period. It contains a statement of the current marketing situation, target markets and audience, company positioning and a lot of other marketing-related topics such as costs, goals, and action steps.
Any marketing plan is an essential part of the company’s overall business plan. It expands on the marketing aspects of the overall business strategy and shows how you are going to achieve whatever you’ve planned to achieve.
Why Do You Need a It?
Well, it’s not just who needs a marketing plan. Everyone who is about to start or already running some business should have a marketing plan NO MATTER WHAT. Doing something just for the sake of doing it isn’t going to bring your business any closer to success.
Having a plan, on the other hand, gives you a clear goal and outlines the ways to reach this goal. Once you have a goal set, your life becomes meaningful and purposeful. You don’t waste your time on anything that doesn’t bring you closer to your goal.
Less Effort => More Result.
This is a golden time- and money-saving formula for any business.
Plans allow us to understand three things:
- where we are now
- where we want to go
- how we are going to get there
These three things are, in fact, the basis for any plan, including the marketing plan. Other aspects may include answers to such questions as:
- How soon are we going to get there?
- What are the interim goals, or milestones?
- What is the competition?
- When will I finally rule the world? 🙂
Okay, the last question might be a little off the subject, but the rest are good. Most marketing plans also feature some kind of calculations, statistical data, and diagrams to illustrate the thoughts presented there.
Benefits of Having a Plan for Marketing Needs
There are three main benefits of a marketing plan that you should be aware of.
1. Sets Your Goals
One cannot underestimate the importance of having a clear goal for the business. Even though I’ve already mentioned this before, I want to stress this idea until it sits your head just right: set your business a goal.
Of course, it should be not just some abstract thing like “become a market leader” or “develop the best mobile app game ever,” because these are not goals – they’re mostly positive thinking.
Aside from the formulated goal itself, all great goals always have a timeframe and exact numbers.
For example, a nice and clear goal would probably sound like this: “by the end of the coming period, become a market leader with a share of 25%” or “develop a mobile app game which will rank at least #10 in Google Play’s “Paid Apps” chart by the end of the year.”
This is a very important part of the plan as it defines all your subsequent actions. Spend as much time as you need until you’re satisfied with the goal.
Oh, and one more thing – your goal should be ambitious, but not unrealistic. There is no point in settings goals like “beat Apple Watch with my new fake Rolex Chinese-made watches that I sell through my website.” 🙂
2. Helps You Develop Product Ideas
That’s right – as you set your goals and position yourself on the market, it becomes clearer to you what kind of product or service you should offer.
While creating your marketing plan, you will dig up a lot of interesting market data, benchmark examples from your competitors, and other things. All this will help you come up with interesting and original ideas for your own business.
No one said that you should necessarily invent something new and revolutionize the industry. Sometimes you just need to take an existing example and elaborate on it. Remember: good artists copy, great artists steal.
If you don’t trust me, take any successful company’s story and you’ll know exactly what I mean.
3. Gives You Focus and Direction
When you start analyzing the market and work towards positioning yourself on it, interesting things will come up.
You’ll start to realize that it’s very easy to do something when you know what to do, how to do it, and what the deadline is. Marketing plan gives you that.
It means that, from now, every step you take, every action you make serves a single purpose – your goal. Everything else is just nonsense, easily dismissed unless it’s relevant to your business.
Marketing Plan: Content and Structure
Now we’ve finally gotten to the point where we’re talking about what an actual marketing plan is and how to write it, step by step. We’ll mostly concentrate on marketing plans for small businesses.
1. Current Situation Analysis
1.1. Market Overview
Start with your target market overview – current and future trends, key players and products, their financial indicators. Dig up as much data as possible – this will help you understand the market you’re about to enter.
1.2 Competitor Analysis
Define your existing (or potential) competitors to see how well you stack up against them. The easiest way to do it will be creating a table with the key parameters which you think are the most relevant to product/service success.
Rank your competitors on each of the parameters and see who’s good at what. This way you’ll know where your benchmarks are.
1.3 Target Audience
Think of the people who would possibly want to become your customers and describe them in detail: who are they and where to find them.
There is a technique called “creating a buyer persona,” which I described in this article “How to Create Buyer Persona for Your Business and Get More Clients.” Give it a read.
1.4 Your Current Performance
If you’re just starting a business, you might simply use a method called SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis. It takes a little time to do and lines up your current situation quite nicely.
If your business is already up and running, you can review your previous year’s performance. What were your achievements and failures? Be honest, you’re making this plan for yourself – no one else will see it.
2. Set Your Goal
Based on the information you’ve provided in the previous steps, you can now finally formulate your goal, nice and clear.
I am a strong supporter of the idea that a marketing plan should have just one goal. Multiple goals create confusion and make your marketing plan less focused.
If you feel like your goal is too complex, you can add a few sub-goals (or milestones, as they’re sometimes called).
3. Set Your Objectives
What goal without objectives? Objectives are actions you’ll have to undertake in order to reach your goal. This is where it gets tough, as it’s very difficult sometimes to define your objectives right.
For example, if your goal is “developing a mobile app game which will rank at least #10 in Google Play’s “Paid Apps chart,” you should probably break the implementation process into stages and formulate the objectives for each stage – see the example below.
Stage 1 – developing mobile app
Stage 2 – launching mobile app
Stage 3 – marketing mobile app
Stage 4 – supporting mobile app
If we take “Stage 1 – developing mobile app,” the objectives may include:
- finding and hiring a freelance Java developer or professional company
- finding and hiring a freelance designer or professional company
- testing the final build on the actual users
4. Product/Service Marketing
4.1 Pricing Strategy
Choose your business model and set the price for your product.
4.2 Marketing Campaign Description
Break down your marketing campaign into the elements and describe each element in detail.
- PPC advertising in Google and Bing
- Email marketing
- Guest promotional blog posts on [INSERT NAME] website
4.3 Marketing Budget
Provide the overall budget for your campaign and its elements. This way you’ll exactly what to spend and where to spend your money.
5. Financial Calculations
Provide calculations to see at which point your business will break even and when you will finally start making money. Be as precise as possible.
6. Final thoughts
Add anything else that you consider relevant to the success of your business.
Now you know the answer to the question and can create an effective marketing plan yourself. Keep in mind, that your marketing plan is not something that’s been written in stone. It can and sometimes should be adjusted according to the current situation you’re in.
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If you have further questions on the subject, please write them in comments – I’ll be glad to answer.
If you want to learn more about marketing and sales, be sure to check my articles: