When starting your own business, you know that you need a business plan but you tend to ignore the vitality of a marketing plan. The marketing plan is important to layout the future plans for your business and how you want to achieve them. It is a roadmap to identify your right audience, how to reach them and what strategies will help you stand out from your competitors. For example, a new company wanting to grow their business will need to focus on acquiring new customers, increase awareness and create a favorable business image in their marketing plan.
Although there is no specific definition for a marketing plan, we can describe it as a document which outlines the business advertising and marketing efforts involved in accomplishing specific marketing objectives within a set timeframe.
When designing a marketing plan, here are a few steps you can follow to design a plan that suits your business needs-
1. Analyze your current situation
Begin with a snapshot of your company’s current situation, it's the first step to make your marketing plan. You must respond - where is your company right now?
Assessing the current position makes you look at the broader vision of where you expect to see your business in the future. That's why we recommend that you do a SWOT analysis of your business - identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and possible threats in terms of your current target markets, competition in the markets and other factors influencing your business.
2. Target your audiences
Identifying your market and knowing who will be your customers is important for the marketing strategy of your business. For this step, you can make a profile of your prospective buyers, also known as "buyer persona".
“A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers” - Hubspot.
To identify your different buyer personas you can consider the following things:
- Write a target customer profile based on demographics like age, gender, income level, and occupation.
- Which industry they work in, what is their job role, and what are the challenges they face.
- Try to understand how they behave - are they the decision makers, are they detail- oriented or emotional about their purchase.
Once the buyer personas have been identified to understand how your business will be able to meet their needs and accordingly change your marketing approach for each buyer personas.
3. Define Objectives
Define clear objectives you want to achieve out of your marketing plan. These objectives can be either short term or long term depending on how you want to evaluate your efforts. For example, if you are a spice vendor, you may want to increase your sales by 15 % in short-term but your long-term objective can be to improve your geographical reach.
And as said by Tony Robbins, “Goals are like magnets. They’ll attract the things that make them come true.” It becomes imperative to set goals and work towards achieving them. But you should make sure that your goals are realistic and attainable so that it can serve as a criterion to evaluate your success.
4. Strategize and plan
Once you are ready with your goals, you need to start brainstorming on what unique selling proposition you can give to your customers so that they choose you over the competition. Here, Kotler's 4Ps of marketing comes into effect.
Your unique selling proposition can be anything from a product or service feature that’s unique and valuable or pricing that is competitive but still profitable to you. Apart from that, the sales and distribution channels you use, like selling directly or through a retailer or a wholesaler-retailer chain, also play an important role in creating value for you. You should also not forget about the necessity of advertising and promoting your offering through suitable channels that reach your target audience.
5. Measure the efforts
Measuring the ROI of your marketing plan is very important. The ROI is not necessary to be in monetary terms but the value it is creating for your overall business growth, like increasing followers on social media or relevant traffic on your website converting into leads. You should evaluate each process at every stage of its lifecycle and in the end, this will allow you to take actions based on the results.
In a nutshell, creating a marketing plan is important because it tells you what product you are going to sell, what will be the pricing, who are your target customers, what are the channels you will be using to reach them and what would be the advertising and promotion channels and budgets to attract the customers.
So allow yourself some time to write your plan, understand your business, its positives and the challenges it comes with, follow your plan, execute it well and update it, if required. Success only comes with good planning and putting your hard work to achieve those goals you set in the beginning for yourself.