There are so many quotes about planning. Here are a couple of famous ones you’ve probably heard “failing to plan, is planning to fail” (by Alan Lakein) and “a goal without a plan is just a wish” (by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry). The reason why there are so many of these are that it’s true. You need to write down your marketing plan, even if it’s just basic, so that you create accountability.
I’ll just quickly talk about Marketing Strategy. A Marketing Plan is the execution plan for your Marketing Strategy. For example your strategy may be focused on who you are selling to. Perhaps you want to target a new consumer segment in order to increase your sales. Your marketing plan will focus on how you will target that new segment.
Here is a basic outline for a marketing plan you could use for your business. This can be changed as needed to suit your business, as long as it successfully lays out a plan for you to achieve your business goals.
1. Define your Business Vision and Mission
This is right upfront, to remind you what you stand for. If a plan does not fit with your business vision or mission then it should be changed, or you need to re-think what it is you want to achieve.
2. Define your Target Market
Describe your ideal target consumer in as much detail as possible. If you are targeting a new consumer segment this is even more important. Be clear and descriptive. The more information you have about your target consumer the easier it will be to sell to this group. Trying to sell to everyone seems like a great idea, since you have more potential buyers, but it’s nearly impossible to market to everyone effectively. Tastes, interests and demographics vary so widely, you need to narrow it down as much as possible and effectively target a small segment. Not sure who your target consumer is? See my post here on defining your target consumer.
3. Understand your Competition
Don’t obsess about your competitors. Just about everyone will have them, being completely unique is so rare. It doesn’t matter though, I believe that there is room for everyone. Nobody can do something exactly the way you can. Therefore be clear on who your competitors are, and have some plans in place to be a little different to them.
4. Define your Product and Market Positioning
What do you sell and how much will it cost? Do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis to see where it is you fall in the market. For eg. you may have a superior product, but it’s more expensive than other similar products in the market. This means you may need to focus on selling the superior features and benefits of you product so that your target consumer can understand the value of it. Define your Unique Selling Proposition.
5. Tactical Sales and Marketing Model
Where and how will you sell your product? Are you selling online? How do you plan to bring people to your website? How will your achieve your business goals?
Go into as much detail as you feel is necessary, as this is where you figure out how your business will make $$. I’d also suggest inserting a budget in this area. This detail will stop you feeling guilty when you need to spend on advertising/sales later on. Think about the proportion of your total sales amount can be allocated toward a marketing budget. Also, think about how you will spend this money. Eg. Will you run daily Facebook ads, will you focus on SEO, perhaps you’ll use a sales team or set up concession stores. Be clear and focused about your selling and marketing tactics.
6. Review and Refine
Come up with some Key Success Metrics. Eg. “50% more visitors to website”. These should measure the success of your marketing plans. Are you reaching your target audience and are they doing what you expect? (Perhaps buying more and interacting more). Whilst there is no clear right or wrong answer, I would suggest trialling marketing/selling tactics for around 6 months to see if they are truly effective. Always review and refine as you go. If after 6 months something is definitely not working, then try a new approach. Often it might just be small tweak which need to be made to your plan. It’s for this reason that I think a marketing plans should be reviewed every 6 months. Think of it as a live document, not something you can simply create once and never look at again.
The length of your marketing plan could be one page or 30 pages. It really doesn’t matter, as this is your document. It should however be clear enough for you to follow, review and update as necessary. Keep it focused and always have your goals in mind.