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How to Create a Marketing Plan

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A marketing plan is required to attract new and existing customers. It’s used to pave a path toward profits.

To continue running a successful business, your marketing plan needs to be direct, concise, and responsive. And for that, your marketing plan needs to include these 4 parts.

1. Analyze the company and set goals

You need a clear understanding where the company is in terms of annual sales, gross profit, and customer acquisition. You also need to understand your product: specifically, what problem it solves and who it’s for.

With these numbers, it’s time to choose a goal for this marketing plan. It can be hefty, like meeting a specific sales goal each month. Or it can be minor, like growing an email list. Choose a goal and make it specific for each marketing plan.

2. Research the market and your customers

Customers are everything. Without them, sales goals can’t be achieved. So you need to understand who your prospective customers are in order to market to them successfully.

Develop a customer profile (or buyer persona). You can go as detailed as you want — in fact, the more detail, the better. Go so far as to create a fake name and a stock photo of your ideal customer.

Describe their income and their problem. Why do they want your product? How often will they buy it? What’s their job title? Are they married? Children?

Then connect your product to their rational and emotional needs.

For example, does your ideal customer work 70+ hours a week and your product will help them spend more time with their kids? The emotional need in this situation is to create more family time. The rational need is to find a better way to work those 70+ hours. The two types of needs intersect.

In the end, it’s important to remember your customer is a real, thinking person, existing in the world. The sooner you use this knowledge, the easier it’ll be to align your marketing goals with customer needs.

3. Create marketing strategies

You’ll need more than one. Each section of your sales cycle may require a different method for customers.

In the beginning, you’ll be attempting to acquire new customers. This is usually achieved through outreach programs — cold calling, Facebook ads, and other advertising.

Once you have their interest, they’ll be considered ‘warm leads’. They know you and your product exist. Now, you can use a new strategy to turn them into active customers rather than passive idlers.

After buying your product, the goal is to turn them into repeat customers. VIP discount codes and loyalty programs may get them to stick around.

Each section requires a specific form of interaction. Once a prospective customer becomes a repeat customer, they won’t respond to a Facebook ad telling them about your service. They know the service. They’ve used the service. This isn’t news to them so this method won’t work to keep them buying.

Many forms of marketing exist, offline and online. Define which method you’ll use at the beginning (cold) stage, warm stage, closing the sale stage, and turning a customer into a repeat buyer stage.

Have your message clearly defined, tell them what to do to get more information, and then use your marketing method to close the sale.

4. Set a budget

People won’t swarm your company if they don’t know it exists. And they won’t buy your product if they don’t understand the benefits. Which is why every business needs to use marketing.

Decide on your budget. This can be month-to-month, quarterly, annually…whichever works for you. You may need to take percentages from gross sales or a percentage of money fundraised or loaned to get started.

Throughout the execution of your marketing plan, keep an eye on the budget. If you go over, re-adjust the plan until you’ve hit your budget number (or at least very close to it). If you see results, monitor which strategies received the best response. If you don’t, go through these steps again and tweak until positive change occur.

Image: bleakstar/Shutterstock.com

//pestleanalysis.com