Whether you’re an online company or a brick-and-mortar store, you need to have a solid marketing plan.
It helps you document information about the way you intend to advertise your product or brand to your target audience.
Plus, it also includes the ideas and strategies that you would use to generate leads.
If you have a marketing strategy in mind but haven’t pinned it down yet into a detailed marketing plan, then you might want to start working on it now.
Because it is highly significant for any business to have a detailed marketing plan in front of them before they begin implementing any of their strategies.
Your marketing plan should cover the following details to make it more effective and fruitful:
- Market research based on your industry or the audience segment that you are planning to target.
- A platform that you will be using as your medium for promoting your brand. It could be social media, newspapers, magazines, or any other platform.
- Metrics that you will measure to analyze your marketing efforts. These metrics will help you keep a close check on the returns of your efforts so that you can see how effective your marketing plan is.
Now when you are designing your marketing plan, you must make sure that it is relevant to your industry.
For instance, if you belong to the fitness industry, then the health-conscious audience segment or people trying to lose/gain weight will be the market that you should target.
In this article, you’ll learn actionable tips and steps on how to create a marketing plan.
7 Steps To Create A Marketing Plan
First, let's go over what exactly a marketing plan is.
A marketing plan is what makes your business valuable in the eyes of the buyers, but that will happen only if the marketing strategy is effective and on point.
You, as a brand in your specific industry, must outline the essential details that will help your marketing plan create the brand awareness that you are aiming for.
Here is how you can make your marketing plan more impactful, making your brand stand out, and achieving your marketing objectives as a result.
Step 1: Know Your Target Customer
If you already have a regular customer base, then analyze their buying patterns.
Study what they buy from you, and figure out why they chose you over other businesses and brands.
If you don’t have a regular customer base, then you, as a brand should know your ideal customers, and should be aware of who will become your target audience.
Study your target customers carefully to know what kinds of advertisements or offers attract them the most and affect their purchasing decision.
Your business goals revolve around your target audience as these are the people who will eventually become your potential buyers.
When you are targeting a specific audience, it should not only include the people who fall under your target criteria but should also include people who might buy the product from you after some brand awareness.
As a business, you should be aware of the customers that are giving you the most sales, and what are these specific customers using your products for. This will help you find customers belonging to a similar background, enabling you to advertise your product to them and creating a buyer persona.
Step 2: Research Your Competitors
By researching your competitors, we do not mean that you copy what they are doing.
But, we do want you to learn from what they are doing. Learn what works for them and what doesn't work for them.
What do their customers engage with the best?
Study their current customers, their buying patterns, and how often they purchase from your competitor. You need to research whom your competitors are targeting.
Look for areas that they lack in and try to provide that to your ideal audience and customers.
The reason why you, as a brand, need to do this is to see the type of audience they are focusing on and analyze which niche market both of you are neglecting as businesses.
This niche market will now become your target audience, and as a result of this research, you will get to know the possible outcomes of targeting them.
You want to meet people where they are and join the conversations they are already having.
Step 3: Create & Define S.M.A.R.T. Goals
You might be working a lot on your marketing strategies, analyzing, and researching things that matter for your business goals.
Yet, you might not be able to achieve the goals that you were working for. This is the reason why SMART goals must be created for your business.
SMART goals help you keep your business focused on your workings, making you make the most of your precious time and using all the resources that you currently have in a more productive manner.
Here’s how you can set SMART goals in your marketing plan.
You need to be very clear and extremely specific about your goal. Question yourself as a business that what is it that you want to achieve through this marketing plan.
Is it an increased audience base, increased profits, or improved sales?
To make this part of your SMART goal more productive, answer the following “W” questions to know your ‘specific’ goals better.
- What is it that you, as a business, want to achieve?
- Why is it important for you to achieve this goal?
- Who is going to be influenced by this goal and who is involved?
- Where is the goal going to take place?
- Which of the resources will be used for this goal? And are there any limitations?
For instance, you, as a marketer, would want to increase the sales in return of your marketing strategies. To increase your sales will be your Specific goal.
The reason why your goals need to be measurable is so that you can calculate the growth and achievements that you, as a business, are attaining through your marketing plan. If you cannot measure where you stand as a brand in the industry, you will not be able to analyze how you are progressing with time.
Some of the questions that will answer your measurable goals include:
- How much time or effort it might take for you?
- How many years might it take you to achieve your goal?
- How would you know that you have finally achieved your goal?
One of the most important things to consider when defining your business's marketing goals is whether or not they are even achievable. You need to make sure that the goals you set are realistic and can be achieved within the time given by you as a marketer.
You cannot expect your team to make billions of sales overnight without having a proper plan in hand.
Setting up a realistic and achievable goal gives you a chance to see what opportunities you had missed previously and how you could have utilized those resources.
- Having an achievable goal will help you answer:
- How can you achieve this goal?
- Is it realistic or not, and can it be achieved with the existing resources?
Not anyone in the business can set an achievable goal.
The brand needs to discuss this as a team, the marketers and the owners, to analyze what resources are present and whether the target can be achieved with the given finances.
There is a high possibility that people misinterpret this goal and make some really unrealistic goals without considering factors like finances and the production process.
The relevance of your goal matters when designing a marketing plan.
You should not aim for things that are not in relevance to other goals, or in fact, to your business. Consider the following questions to see how relevant your goals are:
- Is it important for the business?
- Could this be the time to achieve this goal?
- Does the socio-economic environment allow such a goal at this time?
You cannot set goals for a business without giving a deadline or a target date to the people responsible for achieving those goals.
A deadline helps in achieving goals at a much better pace. Employees understand that they have to complete a specific task before a specific date, and therefore, this helps the business as a whole.
If your goal is time-bound, it will help you answer the following questions:
- When should you be able to achieve this goal?
- Will it take six months, a year, or more?
SMART goals can really help you bring clarity to your marketing strategies, pushing you in one direction so that you are focused on your end goal.
Step 4: Pick Which Channels To Serve
There are several mediums that businesses can use for their marketing campaigns. Whether it is television, radio, print media, including advertisement hoardings, newspaper, flyers, or social media.
The channel that you choose to execute your marketing strategy entirely depends on the target audience that you aim to pitch.
For an entirely digital business, they would prefer using social media for their marketing strategies while others might opt for a different channel.
Besides the target audience, what your product is and how your word will reach the customer also matter in choosing the right channel for your marketing plan.
For instance, for a blogger or a DIY creator, social media like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter might be more than enough to market their products and their business. Such brands usually do not require other marketing channels as they want their work to be marketed digitally only. And because all of these social media forums have a lot to offer to marketers, these have become the first choice for a number of marketers, including small business entrepreneurs and bloggers.
Step 5: Break Down Your Sales System
The need to break down your sales system is important for you as a business.
From the first interaction between the buyer and the seller to the final stage of selling a product, you need to analyze each stage of this sales funnel individually to understand what specific actions can be taken at the different stages to attract your consumers.
The AIDA (Awareness-Interest-Desire-Action) model recognizes the cognitive procedures that a buyer goes through when purchasing a certain product and how the businesses can use this to make their profits better.
Your business creates product awareness amongst the targeted audience, making them see your product and know that it exists. This can be done through advertisements and word of mouth.
The way you present your product out in the market is what will determine if the customer is interested in your product or not.
That is why it is important that you make your impression as a brand very impactful so that the customers show interest in your brand, which will lead the buyer to look into more details about the products that you have to offer.
The customer has to ‘want’ your product to make a purchase finally. And to make the customers desire your product, you as a brand should create an emotional connection between the customer and the product, making them shift from just liking the product to wanting it.
Your strategy as a business should be to give your customers a call to action where they will be attracted to connect with your business and make a final purchase after all the interest that they have shown.
Step 6: Assign Roles
To systematically run your business, it is very significant to assign roles for different individuals in the business.
For better administration of your business, you need to have a team that will be taking care of all the necessary functions, for example, attending calls from customers, pitching sales to customers, delivering to customers, and any other roles related to customer service.
But that’s not all. You also need to assign roles to employees who will be researching on your behalf, looking into potential buyers and carrying out the needed analysis for your brand. Giving them deadlines will also help make your employees more productive as they would try to achieve their assigned goals within the time provided.
You cannot depend on a committee to sit down and make decisions every time because some decisions or actions have to be taken instantly. For instance, if a customer calls for more information, the employee attending the call should be knowledgeable enough to answer all their questions and be able to seal a deal with the customer.
All the employees that will be assigned roles in your business should have specific training in the role given to them to make the most out of their part in the business.
Step 7: Create A Budget
You cannot make goals for your business until and unless you have a specific budget. Every goal that you aim for has to be worked on within the given boundaries as you cannot exceed the budget provided.
Similarly, your marketing budget will set a boundary to how you can execute your marketing plans and whether the strategies that you have planned can be executed in the given budgets. This is the reason why budgeting in your marketing plan is highly important.
Whether you are a small business owner or an entrepreneur who is pursuing a business idea, you have to set a marketing budget to make sure that you meet your other expenses as well. You cannot spend all of your investment just on marketing. There has to be a balance and required allotment for each department of the business.
Here are a few tips to help you set a good budget:
- Analyze how successful you would be in the future and spend according to that.
- Study your sales funnel and see which stage is the most effective in getting you the sales, and that is where you need to spend more money.
- Set out all your operational costs in the form of a spreadsheet so that you can visually see how much is being spent on the business and how much money can be allotted to marketing.
- Calculate your revenues and expenditures. And then analyze how many more sales would be required to meet up the costs.
- Scrutinize your competitors’ advertising methods and see which impacts their sales the most. This will help you choose a channel for you, helping you to decide on a budget.
- Once your marketing plan is all set, you will be able to create a budget more easily.
It does not matter whether you are a small business entrepreneur or a large business owner, the detailing with which you make your marketing plan is what determines how effective it would be once implemented.
The strategic framework of your marketing plan helps you determine what activities will be carried out by your business on a weekly or monthly basis, depending yet again on the available finances and how much you as a business are willing to spend on your marketing.
Metrics collected from the research carried out by your marketing team is an essential tool in designing effective marketing goals, and if the metrics show different results than what you expect, you can also adjust your budget, increasing or decreasing it accordingly.
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