Having a good marketing plan is an important part of any business, but absolutely essential for a company that has just launched, or is just about to launch. That initial marketing effort could be the difference between getting off the ground or imploding on the launchpad.
Most entrepreneurs understand they need a business plan, but don’t realize that a marketing plan is just as important, and should be created separately. Your marketing plan will allow you to lay out exactly how you are going to attract and maintain customers. It should cover all of the tools and tactics you will use to achieve your sales goals. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated. You just need to make sure it is complete, and will be easy to understand and follow as you put it into action.
Here are the basics of what you’ll need to create and effective marketing plan:
The first part of your plan should be what is called a situation analysis. Here you will lay out the products and/or services you offer and what makes them stand out against your competition. You’re also going to list internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as external threats and opportunities that may exist.
What gives you a competitive advantage? Why are your products or services superior? What do you do differently? Do you have highly knowledgeable or experienced team members?
Is your market saturated? Is your budget very low? Are you lacking staff with good experience? Are you starting off in a cramped space?
Is there rapid expansion in your market? Do you have a uniquely advantageous location?
Possible problems with supply lines? Are supply costs rising? Are competitors growing quickly or overly aggressive?
When you’ve gone through and put all these things together, you should have a very clear picture of exactly where your company stands at this point.
Next you want to define your target audience. You’re going to decide exactly who you are trying to reach and try to list any characteristics you can think of that describe them. You want to think about things like age, sex, income, lifestyle and location. If your target is business to business, consider type of business, job title of likely contact points, size of business, location, etc.
The idea here is to be as detailed as possible. Paint yourself a precise picture of the people who will be in the audience you want to attract. The better you know them, the better your marketing results will be.
This section will be fairly straightforward. Here you simply want to list your goals. Make them clear, and measurable.
You might state things such as increasing sales by 20% in the next 60 days or making your first 100 sales in that time. The important point is to have a well-defined goal linked to a specific amount of time, so that you can tell if you are achieving what you set out to do.
Strategies And Tactics
This part of your plan is where you pull everything together. You’ve figured out where you stand, who you want to reach, and what you want to achieve. Now it’s time to decide on how you’re going to reach out to your audience.
Here you’ll want to outline primary marketing strategies you intend to use to reach prospects at any point in your sales cycle. You might use print or social media advertising to find cold prospects while relying more on email and social media interaction for warm prospects.
To find the ideal combination, you’ll need to find out what type of media your target audience relies on for information when it comes to your type of service or product. You, of course, want to reach them where they will be most receptive to your message.
Failing To Plan Is Planning To Fail
As you can see, your marketing plan doesn’t need to be overly complicated. The key is just to lay out a plan that you can follow and refer back to. By having your goals and strategies on paper, you’ll find it much easier to track success and make adjustments when you need to.