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All businesses should use a marketing plan. It is a document that outlines marketing tactics and opportunities. They usually specify:
- Business goals
- Actionable steps
- Costs & expenses
Don’t view a marketing plan as a linear document. It’s evolving and changing as the business grows.
Tactics may be eliminated. Timelines may be extended. And the steps to reach goals may shift as objectives do.
Why companies should have a marketing plan
A well-constructed marketing plan is a guide. It clearly outlines steps to reach business goals. It’s used as a reference for results too.
Businesses need to be seen. Products have to be put in front of customer’s eyes. And that is the role of marketing — for clients to know firms exist and to buy their products. You can have the best product, but if no one knows? It doesn’t matter.
A defined marketing plan puts companies on track. It allows companies to track results and see whether current marketing strategies are working or just a waste of resources.
Remember, marketing is important but only if the right policies are implemented.
The clear benefits
Businesses require planning. A marketing plan gives clarity on where to focus, where expenses are going and projected results. Stakeholders need a document to understand where resources and funds are allocated — and more importantly, why.
It helps keep everyone on the same page.
Marketing is about three things: the message, the medium, and the consumer.
So many marketing methods are available. But not all of them are right for you.
The direction is key, and marketing plans provide just that.
Marketing plans include…
An overall message: In a few sentences, explain what the company is trying to accomplish and with what methods. It’s considered an ‘executive summary.’ It’s just a highlight — the rest of the information comes later.
Business explanation: What is it, where is it located, what are the brand message and the company’s core values.
Services: Explain your product and service offerings. What makes it the best? What does it provide to customers?
Target market: Who are your consumers? Where are they from, what lifestyle choices do they make, what are their gender and average income? Ideally, you’ve already done plenty of target market research and know your customers thoroughly.
Goals: What growth does the company want to see? This can be increasing visitor counts to the website; obtaining more customers; see an increase in social media followers. Whichever your goals, they must be specific with a timeframe.
Marketing strategies: With the goals aligned and consumer information ready, it’s time for planning. You can begin by understanding where your target market is. Do they hang out online or not? Your goal is to bring awareness of your business to them, garner their interest, and turn them into leads that buy your product. Selecting a method that gets to them — that’s the goal.
Talk expenses: How much is this going to cost? Do you need to hire someone to create content — landing pages or value adds to exchange for emails? Will you invite clients out for drinks or attend conferences to meet new faces? All projected expenses should go here.
There you have it!
With these sections answered thoroughly, you’ve got yourself a marketing plan. Remember, marketing plans are not made of stone. Expectations and results change. And they should.
If you find one strategy is working better than others, you may add more expenses or tunnel all the funding there.
Keep the plan updated, document results, and improve the system as you go.