It is common knowledge in the business community that well thought out marketing plans lead to effective marketing strategies. Where many falter is that they do not know the best methods of creating a marketing plan, what to include and how to structure it.
What is a marketing plan?
The marketing plan is a document which should cover all of your marketing campaigns and activities over the next year. It should be well thought out and have input from individuals working in all areas of your business, from finance to personnel and HR. It should pave the way towards achieving your marketing objectives and each part should be backed up by solid research and reasoning. The marketing plan offers marketing personnel the chance to justify their decisions and make everyone in the company aware of their intentions in the hope that the whole company will rally together to make it happen.
What should you include in a marketing plan?
There are a lot of elements to consider when creating a marketing plan. You need to think about:
– Your markets macro and micro environment
– Objectives you want to achieve
– How you are going to achieve them
You can split your plan into three basic elements; Research, Strategy and Tactics.
Carry out in depth research before concentrating on your overall marketing strategy, this way you’ll know how much investment each channel should receive.
It would be foolish to blindly assume that 90% of your marketing budget should go on newspaper advertising without any research to back it up. Your senior management team will also be more impressed if you have evidence to suggest this tactic will work and deliver a ROI for your business.
You can start by looking at your business’s historical data.
– Where have sales been the strongest?
– Which marketing strategies were most successful in the past?
– How have different products performed in different environments?
This will not only give you an idea of where you have been successful / unsuccessful in the past but will help in deciding your overall objectives.
You’re also going to want to take a look at your audience and create audience profiles. As a representative of your company, you should have an in depth knowledge of the audience already, however their demands, innovations within your industry and technology can change frequently and you need to keep on top of this.
Look into their buyer behaviour and try to identify any trends or patterns.
– Discover where the best place to target your audience is
– Are they a digital savvy audience or is traditional media going to work best?
– What motivates them and what do they want to achieve?
You will also need an in-depth competitor analysis. You should use your competitor’s data to your advantage. What marketing strategies have they implemented and how successful have they been? If there are any areas which have proven particularly popular with your audience then perhaps you should consider them in your own strategy.
Hopefully your research will have outlined any opportunities to improve as well as your business’s areas of strength which should give you a basis to start setting goals and objectives. You need to think about what you want to achieve in the next year and should set objectives to reflect this. Your strategy will determine the actions you will take to achieve those objectives and your overall goal.
Your strategy should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and should have a deadline.
For example, your goal may be to increase overall sales by 15% by the end of the year.
– Your objectives will then need to meet this goal, so for example you may set an objective to increase repeat purchases by 10%.
– Your strategy could then be to engage with your existing audience and develop stronger relationships.
– You will need to assign a budget to this specific strategy and think about what your targets are and how you are going to measure the success of this strategy.
Now that you have your strategies in place, it is time to start assigning tactics to those strategies. Your tactics will detail what you are going to do to bring your strategy to life and how you are going to do it. This is where you need to start thinking about which elements of the marketing mix and the promotional mix are going to work best for you, whether that be advertising, direct marketing, public relations or anything else.
For example, if your strategy is to engage your existing audience and develop stronger relationships then your tactics may be to start an online remarketing campaign offering loyalty rewards such as discounts, Gift Cards or digital E-Gift Cards that are emailed to existing customers, rewarding them instantly. You should plan these tactics so that you can measure the results of each tactic and leave space within your marketing plan to include any evidence of their success.
Each business may have a different method of creating an effective marketing plan depending on the size of the business and the industry, however the general outline in this article should give a good starting point for any business.
For more information on how you can get your marketing strategy off the ground, please get in touch with us today and we will be happy to discuss how we can help you to achieve your overall goals.