Starting a successful business relies on how well you can market it. To put in professional terms, marketing is the action undertaken to promote and sell products or services offered by a business organization. Basically, with marketing, you can attract prospects that become buyers who provide profit.
The father of advertising, David Ogilvy, aptly quipped:
“Great marketing only makes a bad product fail faster.”
However, for marketing to become a success for a company or business, there needs to be a marketing plan or strategy that one should follow. So let’s dive into the specifics of a marketing plan.
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Table of Contents
What is a marketing plan?
A marketing plan is a way to outline how you will reach your target audience by implementing an effective strategy. It can be visualized as a flowchart or a roadmap. For starting a successful business, regardless of whether it sells a product or a service, you need to have a marketing plan. There are countless ways to promote and make your business more visible and having a plan will help you map out all your marketing efforts. Think of it as a strategy to follow that details how you will execute the current and future plans and improve your marketing dashboard.
Is a marketing strategy different from a marketing plan?
A marketing strategy for a business embodies the hows of a company: how to become more visible, how to reach out to potential customers and turn them into buyers, how to choose the right channels to communicate with customers and so on.
On the other hand, a marketing plan includes specific steps or processes that a business takes to support the strategy, for example, working on different channels, i.e. running Instagram campaigns, or creating banner advertisements for Google. In contrast, a marketing plan can contain one or more marketing strategies to achieve the desired business goal.
For example, a marketing strategy template of an e-commerce company can include working on different social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn). However, you individually handle just one channel under a specific strategy.
It’s worth mentioning that templates, especially when it comes to social media marketing, have their limitations too. To streamline that process, it might be a good idea to use a social media scheduling tool.
The elements of a marketing plan
Now that we know what a marketing plan is, let’s see what it’s made of. Here are the core elements of a strong marketing plan:
1. Research, research, research
Researching will help you collect and analyze relevant data for your business. Here are a few of the aspects your research should cover:
- The selling proposition that separates you from the competition
- Challenges your marketing team is facing
- Best practices to make use of marketing channels and how campaigns contribute towards generating leads. Facebook marketing campaigns are known to offer good results in this sense.
- Competitor analysis
- Marketing objectives management?
2. Type of market
First, make sure what you are targeting for your product or service to sell well. Is it a B2B or consumer market? This element serves as the foundation of all marketing activities, without which your marketing campaigns risk failing.
Many new businesses fail to identify the market they should target. They think of it like the wider the market they target, the higher will be the ROI. However, when they set up their marketing campaigns, they end up with least conversions leading to stress and disturbed sleep cycles.
3. The marketing approach
Here you need to answer these questions:
– What you want to do, Why and for Whom?
This element focuses on your mission, and without a proper purpose, you won’t be able to market in the right direction. A mission statement can also be called a marketing approach.
4. Summarize the plan
This should be a distilled version of your marketing plan. The summary is an easy to understand document as it provides a full picture of your marketing actions.
5. Target audience
Now that you’ve defined the target market, summarized the plan, it’s time to seek out the potential customers in your target market. This part of the funnel represents the potential customer base where you will market your relevant products in order to convert them. This phase should cover the following aspects:
- What challenges did you face in getting the information and checking the values
- What are the buying decisions of a particular customer?
- How can you provide the best solution to overcome the customer’s challenges?
6. Budget plan
All marketing efforts should be kept under a budget. However, it can be challenging at times, you can better manage your finances to make informed financial decisions for your company through business accounting services.
Types of marketing plans
- Periodical marketing plans
Plans that are based on a specific period. They can include the strategies or campaigns to run every quarter or an annual program.
- Paid marketing plans
These include all the paid strategies, like advertising, PPC (Pay Per Click), or paid social media promotions.
- Content marketing plans
Promote your business, product, or services using quality content, webinars or online courses. Different strategies and approaches can be used in these kinds of marketing plans that include campaigns revolving around putting out engaging content.
- Social media marketing plans
This plan revolves around social media marketing strategies where social media channels are used to promote the products or services of a business and to engage with the customers. Using this plan will help you raise brand awareness and boost impressions.
How to write a perfect marketing plan?
1. Determine the key performance indicators
For a marketing plan to be successful, you need to determine the KPIs (key performance indicators) that will help you measure the performance of specific elements of a marketing campaign.
2. Buyer personas
Buyer Persona is a collection of information regarding potential customers. It can include age, sex, location, job title, family information, and much more. Buyer personas are crucial for determining your audience and targeting accordingly.
3. Strategies to put forward
Include the main strategies you need to put forward; it’s important to choose from a pool of channels available. Pick your channels wisely and add them to your marketing plan, explaining how it will help you scale your marketing efforts.
The content strategies can include:
- the type of content such as blogs, articles, video, etc
- The necessary volume of content to be created in a certain time frame
- distribution of content on different or relevant channels using a social media calendar
- any form of paid advertising that can be beneficial and cost-effective too
4. Pay attention to the competition
It is always better if you create a marketing plan keeping in mind the competition. With proper research, you can address the things that the competition does better than you. Aside from this, keep in mind that you will find several types of competitors, so you might have to build your marketing plan with counteracting their strategies in mind.
5. Set responsibilities
Once the marketing plan is all set, the final step is to delegate responsibilities.
Hopefully, the previous steps will help you create a strong marketing plan. With that template in hand, you can outline the competition, research significant marketing programs, determine the budget, and establish goals with set standards and metrics.
How to use a template?
- Determine key players in your marketing plan.
- Identify your success metrics, organizational strategic goals, and marketing-specific goals that you seek to achieve.
- Build strategies to target relevant markets
- Conduct a SWOT analysis.
Hopefully, this article has shed some light on what a marketing plan is and how to build one from scratch. To summarize, this plan should represent the foundation of your marketing efforts. Everything, from buyer personas, target audience, budgeting plan to, social media strategy and research and how the competition does things should be covered in this plan.