Writing a marketing plan can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. With time and resources, you can build a successful marketing strategy for your business. Have you ever wondered how to write a marketing plan for a company?
What do you include, and more importantly, where do you start and where does it end? Here our Marketing Consultant Mark Roberts provides useful tips on creating a marketing plan for any business.
What is a Marketing Plan?
A marketing plan is a document for businesses to share their goals, strategies and actions with their employees. It’s an important part of the marketing process. It helps a company create a practical strategic roadmap for itself and gives a straightforward way of thinking to those working in the business and how they can help achieve its goals.
Everyone can be organised and focused on common goals so that they execute their tasks and track their success over a given period. Everything is in one place in a clear and documented way, and your teams will have an easier time staying on track with any marketing strategies that sit under your overall plan.
Why you need a Marketing Plan
A marketing plan is crucial to show how your business will be marketed. They can be instrumental when raising funds, approaching investors, and showing everyone what you can do.
Writing a marketing plan will help you understand the bigger picture for your business as well as specific steps to implement to reach goals. If you don’t have the right resources or the time, outsourcing this area of your business can be highly cost-effective and bring a fresh pair of eyes and creativity to your marketing strategy.
Creating a Marketing Plan
A good marketing plan is actionable, measurable, and focused on the customer. It’s possible to market without a plan, but your marketing will likely be muddled and less effective. Buying advertising space or sponsoring an event when the opportunity arises, might produce sporadic results. Unplanned and disjointed marketing won’t deliver sustained growth; create a plan and stick to it to help your business grow.
The steps to create a Marketing Plan
The 15 steps for writing a great marketing plan.
Set your mission and vision
This should start with a high-level “exec summary” of what you want to accomplish. What is the mission? A summary of two or three sentences.
Define your Goals and Objectives
Setting realistic goals can be a difficult task. They should explain how you want your business to be different at the end of the planned period. This may include writing short-term and long-term goals. Your objectives should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.
Audit your current position
You can’t get to where you want to go if you don’t know where you are now! Do a SWOT analysis to identify and document your: Strengths, Weaknesses (the internal business situation), Opportunities and Threats (the external position in the marketplace).
Define your target market
Research and understand your target market/audience and know your clientele. Outline your audience and create a buyer persona – a description of whom you want to attract. This can include age, sex, location, family size, and job title. This is how you ensure that you reach your target audience. Remember the importance of inclusive marketing – forgetting this could leave you missing a big part of your market.
Analyse your competition
Get to know the competition; you need to know whom you’re marketing against. Research the key players in your industry and the challenges they pose to your business.
Describe your strategic positioning
With the research complete, you should know your customer, competition, product or service inside out. Understand the market, your competitors, your target buyer and their buying behaviours. You are now ready to define your “marketing mix”. The marketing mix should describe your 4Ps: Product, Place, Price, and Promotion.
Identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) to meet your goals
What gets measured gets done, so set key metrics to measure the success of your marketing plan. KPIs are individual metrics that measure a marketing campaign’s various elements and successes.
Map out your strategy
Outline your action steps and make sure you include both inbound and outbound marketing activities. With your marketing plan fully fleshed out, it’s time to explain what channels you will use and who’s doing what. Make individuals or teams accountable for their tasks.
Define your message
The message is what your target market wants to know about your company. This knowledge will result in desired actions, such as engaging with your content and ultimately buying your product or service. Generally, this message will be your company’s unique selling proposition or USP. It should state your unique benefits and why they should do business with you instead of your competitors.
Establish a budget
Put together a marketing budget for each month or quarter. You can use lots of free channels and platforms like MailChimp but remember there are several hidden expenses; free trials end, and you may have to outsource some tasks and pay freelance fees.
What will you do, and how will you do them? For example, writing blogs, email campaigns, paid social media posts, influencer marketing campaigns or attending trade shows. It’s important to select things that are appropriate to your business and, more importantly, your target market.
Determine what channels you’ll use
There are so many to choose from! Always remember your target audience and their channels of choice. What channels usually influence their buying decisions? Are they online shoppers? Are they active on social media, and if so, what networks? And will paid advertising be cost-effective on these channels?
Get a handle on your content needs
Define your content pillars – these are the topics your audience needs to know. Define your content types, including blog posts, YouTube videos, infographics, and eBooks. How much of it you’ll create? How easy and costly is your content to make – remember your budget!
Detailed content planning for your social channels
Writing a more detailed social media content marketing plan to support your tactics is a good idea. Ensure you’re using a mixture of content types – video is always King and Queen! Think about the hashtags and the times and days you will post to try and beat those algorithms.
Create a timeline for the marketing plan
Depending on the period you are planning for, this is a month-by-month schedule of what will happen for a year. The timeline should display when each tactic is happening, how long it takes, and ensure it aligns with your budget. It’s a good idea to run some things simultaneously to enhance their effectiveness.
Executing your Marketing Plan.
With your marketing plan written (and perhaps “signed off” if you need to agree on budget and resources from other teams or individuals), it’s time to execute it. Track against your KPIs and review regularly; remember that you can adapt the plan.
When you start to discover the things that work best, do more. When things don’t work as expected, perhaps redistribute this budget and resources elsewhere. Maybe even re-plan and try something new!
Things in marketing are dynamic; things change but having a good plan and tracking against it will help you quickly see when these changes happen or are likely to happen. It’s an organic process – you make changes based on how well your strategy works. But by doing the groundwork, you can ensure that you’re on the right path.
Need help creating a Marketing Plan?
Writing a marketing plan is an essential skill for any business owner. Starting a plan from scratch can be overwhelming if this is your first time or with little experience. However, creating a good marketing plan is possible if you follow the proper steps. And if you still don’t know your 4Ps from your KPIs or your SWOTs from your SMARTs, then let us help you out.
From business or product launch marketing strategy to ongoing content marketing planning, we are experts in planning and execution. Get in touch to find out how we can help your business write a marketing plan for your business.