Friday, April 29, 2016

5 steps to creating a marketing plan for your business

By David Ronald

Every entrepreneur knows that a business plan is a prerequisite when starting a company. Many entrepreneurs, however, don’t realize that a marketing plan is just as vital.

A marketing plan describes what you will sell, who you want to buy it, how much you will sell it for and how you will bring it to market. A good marketing plan describes the tools and tactics you will utilize to achieve your sales goals.

In this blog post I will examine five key steps to creating a marketing plan that will work for your company.

1. Describe your company's situation
No matter your industry, from big data to fintech to internet of things, positioning your product or service effectively requires an understanding of your niche market. Not only do you need to be able to describe what you market, but you must also have a clear understanding of what your competitors are offering and be able to show how your product or service provides a better value.

Make your situation analysis a succinct overview of your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

To determine your company’s strengths, consider the ways that its products are superior to others. What do you offer that gives your business a competitive advantage? Weaknesses, on the other hand, can be anything from operating in a highly saturated market to lack of experienced staff members.

Next, describe any external opportunities you can capitalize on, such as an expanding market for your product. Don’t forget to include any external threats to your company’s ability to gain market share so that succeeding sections of your plan can detail the ways you’ll overcome those threats.

2. Describe your target audience
Developing a profile of your prospective customer is your next step.

If you’re a B2B company, you may define your target audience based on their type of business, job title, size of business, geographic location or any other characteristics that make them possible prospects. No matter who your target audience is, be sure to narrowly define them in this section, because it will be your guide as you plan your media and public relations campaigns.

If you are a B2C company, you can describe prospects in terms of demographics—age, earnings, geographic location, in addition to lifestyle. Ask yourself the following: Are my customers conservative or innovative? Leaders or followers? Timid or aggressive? Traditional or modern? Introverted or extroverted? How often do they purchase what I’m selling? In what quantities?

3. Describe your marketing goals
What do you want your marketing plan to achieve? For example, are you hoping for a 20 percent increase in sales of your product per quarter? Write down a short list of goals—make them measurable so that you’ll know when you’ve achieved them.

4. Define your marketing budget
You’ll need to devote a percentage of projected gross sales to your annual marketing budget. Of course, when starting a business, this may mean using newly acquired funding, borrowing or self-financing. Just bear this in mind—marketing is absolutely essential to the success of your business. And with so many different kinds of tactics available for reaching out to every conceivable audience niche, there’s a mix to fit even the tightest budget.

5. Develop your marketing tactics
Your tactics are the actions you need to take to help you reach your target market and accomplish your goals. These include specifics such as direct mail, email marketing, print/radio/online advertising, blogs, social media, case studies, webinars, events, sponsorships and so on.

Never rely on one tactic alone. An integrated approach that delivers a consistent message across multiple, targeted platforms is the best way to ensure you reach your target market and get the most out of your budget. Refer back to who it is you are trying to reach, where they are, and what you want them to do.

Above all, be flexible. Track results and adjust your tactics and messaging as you go. I’ve seen many campaigns start out with one message and close out with a completely different one. Try out new email subject lines, test social media messages, and keep a close eye on what works and what doesn’t.

By applying steps 1-5 you will develop a powerful marketing plan that will help you grow revenues.

Thanks for reading. Do you agree with everything on this list?

Did we leave anything off?

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