If you’re a business owner, you’ve probably heard people talk about marketing plans. Most business owners know they should have a marketing plan, but few understand what it is and how it will help them focus and achieve their goals. so, what is a Marketing Plan and where do you start?
What is a Marketing Plan?
A Marketing Plan is a document that defines your business goals and lays out the strategies and steps you will take to get there. A successful marketing plan is not stagnant. It shifts as your business changes and grows.
- New competitors need to be understood
- When revenue goals are achieved, new goals need to be set
- Customer buying habits may change, requiring new strategies and tactics
A marketing plan helps you look for surprises, good and bad, and keeps you focused on your goals.
Start with your company goals – What are they?
Where do you want your company to be in the next year? A marketing plan starts with your business goals.
- What is your revenue goal for the year, and how much can you invest in marketing?
- Are you planning any new products, locations, or services?
- Do you have any new competitors entering the marketplace?
- What kinds of new customers are you looking for?
Having a clear understanding of your business goals allows you to set measurable marketing goals. This process results in goals that will drive increased ROI, long-term growth, and profitability. Remember, you won’t know if what you do works unless you measure it!
Competitive analysis plays a significant role in your Marketing Plan because it helps you understand who your competitors are and what they are doing to drive business.
- What are their strengths?
- What are their weaknesses?
- What are they doing differently from you?
- What does their website look like, and how does it function?
- Is there a social media presence, and how active or inactive is it?
- Do they blog, and how often?
- What are their calls to action on the website? What do they offer?
Upon researching and gathering answers to all these questions, the analysis unveils the competitive similarities and differences. For example, if every competitor’s website has a distinct look and feel, and yours does not, you may want to refresh your website. The competitive analysis takes time, and it is time well spent.
Who are your target customers?
To achieve your goals, you need to know a lot about your target customer. Who are they? Where are they? What do they need that you can deliver? The questions you need to understand fully are WHO PAYS YOU? And WHY DO THEY PAY YOU?
A customer persona can help paint the picture. It goes beyond demographics and focuses on behavior. It defines what matters to your customer, the best ways to provide value, and the challenges they face daily. You may have more than one customer persona; most do. Everything in your Marketing Plan should speak to at least one of your personas directly.
How are you going to speak to your target customer? Think about your brand voice and messaging. Your brand voice is how you best represent your brand in a manner that resonates clearly with your target customers.
What is your value proposition? What is the main reason your target customers are going to purchase from you? Are you the only business that can do what you do?
Each of these items provides the critical foundation that you need BEFORE you can go any further.
The process of creating a marketing plan starts with setting specific and measurable goals, identifying your target customer, and defining your brand voice and messaging. These things have to be done before you develop a strategy. Think about it for a minute. If you don’t know who you’re talking to, how do you know what to say? If you don’t know where you’re trying to go, how do you get there?
Through this analysis, you may find that you are doing 95% of the things you should. That is great! Then there is only a little bit to change, and your business is already growing. More often than not, these initial steps will uncover surprises or things you may not have realized that need to be addressed to achieve your business goals.
Are you ready to work on the foundation of your marketing efforts?
Attempting to market a product or embrace a digital marketing strategy would be a mistake without the knowledge gained from a marketing plan. Let’s schedule some time to talk about your business and support you in achieving your goals. Our passion is helping companies just like yours use marketing strategies to achieve business goals, and we’d love to put our experience to work for you.