Marketing plans are important, but what is even more important is turning plans into action and getting results. From my perspective, good business strategy is essential to the success of any business. Whether a company wins or loses in the marketplace is directly impacted by the caliber of its strategy and how effectively it is executed.
Spending the time up front to create a marketing plan will help you take a more strategic approach to your business, it will help provide:
- A better understanding of your customers and industry
- Allow you to identify areas and opportunities for growth
- Help create vision and improve the direction of the business
When you understand these elements of your business more deeply you can work towards:
- Reaching your target audience more effectively
- Increasing sales
- Building brand awareness
Some helpful hints for developing a marketing plan include:
1. Develop a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Do this first before you put together the rest of your plan. A strong unique selling proposition lets you stand out from the crowd. This differentiation means that your business can stand apart from its competitors. To develop your USP think about what is different or unique about your offering? Why should people do business with you and not your competitors? Spend some time on developing your USP it’s well worth it.
2. Define your target audience
In conjunction with defining your company’s product/service offering, take the time to clearly describe your target audience. Be specific about the demographics and psychographics of your ideal buyer. Consider putting together a profile of what your ‘ideal’ buyer would look like. Think about things like age, gender, life stage, occupation, likes and dislikes etc. This will help you get a better understanding of who you are targeting.
3. Set S.M.A.R.T goals and a realistic budget
When creating your marketing plan be realistic, set goals that are Specific, can be Measured are Action orientated, Realistic and have a Timeframe (S.M.A.R.T.). Without these in place you wont be able to measure the success of your efforts down the track.
Remember to set a budget, as expenses can add up, be realistic and identify what is achievable for your business and how much money you can genuinely afford to spend.
4. Make sure your marketing plan is actionable
Create a detailed tactical plan (action plan) that helps you execute your marketing strategy. A tactical plan or action plan is the “how” part. How will you achieve your goals? What actions will you put in place?
Will your sales manager speak at a trade event? Will you run a sponsored advertising campaign on Facebook, or use Google Adwords to drive traffic to your web store? Will you use e-mail marketing to get your message across to customers and prospects? Or will use a combination of these and/or others?
5. Execute your plan, DON’T leave it on the shelf
To make sure that the action plan is executed you need to delegate both responsibility and authority and set clear expectations and timelines. Make sure staff know what is expected and that they are supported to fulfil their requirements. Set regular review dates, to review progress to ensure that you are on track.
Remember that potential customers need to be exposed to your product or service around 5 to 15 times before they are likely to think of your product when the need arises! Therefore investing the time to plan your marketing activities and working out the best ways to get your message in front of your customers, in a cost effective way, is really a worthwhile exercise.