How Developing a Marketing Plan Can Keep Your Business on Track

Developing a marketing plan for your business is easy to overlook. Most business owners spend their days putting out fires and tending to short term issues.

Who has time to think about long term marketing plans when you’re just getting by each and every day?

It turns out that if you don’t have a marketing plan, your business isn’t going to be that successful.

Read on to learn why creating a marketing plan matters and how you can write one to set your business up for success.

Do You Really Need a Marketing Plan?

Before you start kicking and screaming about not needing a marketing plan, ask your self one question. Is what you’re doing right now in your business working for you? If it is, then keep doing it. You’re most likely to answer no.

The truth is, most entrepreneurs are stressed out and burning themselves out trying to hold the business together. Can a marketing plan really make that much of a difference?

Social media company CoSchedule surveyed marketers and business owners about the importance of marketing plans for their businesses. These are some of their findings:

  • Those who have a documented plan are 538% more likely to say they’re successful than those who don’t.
  • Those who set goals are 429% more likely to say they’re successful than those who don’t.
  • Out of those who say they write down goals, 81% of them achieve their goals.

That’s what a marketing plan can do for your business. Are you ready to start developing a marketing plan? Let’s go!

Developing a Marketing Plan Step-by-Step

Yes, developing a marketing plan is an involved process. There are a couple of ways to do it. You can do all of the work yourself, or you can use the divide and conquer approach.

You can take each component and divide it up among your employees. You might take on competitive research while an employee does budget research for you.  

What’s Your Business About?

You have an amazing business, right? Now is the time to share why. Talk about how long you’ve been in business. This is also the place to give an overview of what you’ve done to market your business in the past, along with what worked really well and what didn’t work.

Marketing Plan Goals

You already learned why writing down goals is so important. You’re likely to reach them if you document them, so let’s get them down on paper.

The thing is, you don’t want to write down goals that are vague like “My goal is to make more money.”

You need to get more specific than that. A goal like “I want to increase sales revenue by 20% by the end of Q4 2019.” is a much stronger and defined goal.

SWOT What?

Strengths, opportunities, weaknesses, and threats. Every business has them. What are yours?

Strengths and weaknesses are about what’s happening inside your business. A strength would be incredible customer service, while a weakness is that you have a small staff to handles a sales increase.

Opportunities and threats are outside of your business, and outside of your control. The economy shrinking or tariffs can be threats. An opportunity may be decreased competition in your area.

Target Market Analysis

Who is your target market and why would they want your product or service? That’s what you need to answer here.

This part will require a bit of research to learn more about your target market. You want to learn about their needs and wants in order to position your product to meet their needs.

Product or Services Overview

This part is pretty simple. This outlines what you do. If your business sells products, you’ll want to include what differentiates your product or service from all of the others on the market.

This section can include insight into your competition. You could choose to make a competitive analysis a separate part of the marketing plan.

Marketing Tactics

Tactics are what you’ll do to get to your marketing goals. For example, if your goal is to increase online sales, your tactics should support that.

You’ll need tactics like SEO, social media, and PPC ads to drive more traffic to your website. With more traffic, you’re likely to see higher conversion rates. You want to choose tactics based on your goals and your audience. You have to make sure your tactics will reach your audience.

Budget

You have all of these pie in the sky ideas about your marketing plan. Now is the time to come back to reality. You’re going to need to set your budget for your plan.

What you’ll do at first is take the most important tactics and calculate the costs. If you’re going to use social media tools, how much will they cost?

Staff hours, advertising, and printing costs all need to be in your budget. If you find that some items won’t work because they’re too costly, now is the time to revise them and take them out.

Next Steps

Once the marketing plan is complete, you’ll have to decide on how to execute the marketing plan. You can choose to keep your marketing in-house or you can submit an RFP for agencies that will submit proposals.

The proposals that are submitted should look clean and professional. Some of the agencies might use a Marketing Proposal Template to create that polished look.

These are the proposals you’ll want to read and have the agencies come in and pitch your business.

Developing a Marketing Plan

Developing a marketing plan doesn’t have to be difficult. You just have to know the steps involved in the process. It’s also much easier when you can divide the work up between several people.

It’s important to look at and revise your plan regularly because you don’t want this incredible document to just sit in a drawer collecting dust. Use it!

Ready for more marketing tips? Learn how to create a killer email marketing plan for your business.

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