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There is no set formula for what a marketing plan should include, but that can be a good thing as it allows you the flexibility to develop a plan that suits your business, your resources and your budget.
At its very core, marketing is about telling the public (and potential customers) what your business is offering and why it would be of value to them.
Like any business process, marketing should have a planned and strategic approach (and should tie in seamlessly with your business plan).
To help you get your head around it, I would suggest that your Marketing Plan should have some key areas, which will allow you to
The below are six headings I think are beneficial to include in your marketing plan.
In this section it is important to take a step back and look at your business as it is now and where you want to take it.
Just as the heading suggests, this is the time you look around you and identify all the barriers to success as well as all the opportunities that are just screaming out to be harnessed!
The first step is to undertake a SWOT Analysis. Quite often you may have completed a SWOT as part of your Business Plan, but it is important to clarify the marketing SWOT.
In addition when you are starting your business it is vital that you have a clear understanding of what type of customers you would like. When you identify your target customers you also have the opportunity to respond to their needs. By analysing your customers you are able to speak directly to their fears and concerns before they even make contact with you!
And finally, take the time to understand your competitors and assess what it is you think they do well and what they do poorly. This type of information can be invaluable and stop you from making unnecessary errors yourself.
No matter what decisions you make within your marketing plan you should always have clearly defined goals – otherwise how will you know if you’ve been successful or not!
Deciding on your key messages is important as it has a flow-on affect in regards to how and where you communicate about your business.
You can have one key message or you can have a few, but what’s important is framing these messages so they are easy to understand and interpret. Think about your key messages in terms of the well-known ‘elevator pitch’.
Then as part of your strategy you decide how you are going to communicate your message – and the options are almost endless! Advertising, social media, promotional collateral, referral websites … there is so much to choose from. But the main thing to remember is that there is no right answer for every business, it depends on your individual circumstances as to which tools you use.
Every organisation has a marketing budget – even if they don’t realise it! A smarter move is to ensure that you know what your budget is upfront, so you can then be strategic about where you spend those precious funds.
So from everything you’ve researched and decided for your marketing plan, you now need to decide what will happen, when it will occur and who will action it.
Not all elements of your Marketing Plan can be easily measured, particularly if one of your objectives is to increase brand awareness and you are a small business – you can’t afford a market research company to check how you did!
But there are a raft things you can measure, such as online metrics, asking customers for feedback, reviewing your sales data and so on. So make sure the things you can measure, you do.
If you need a little help I have created a template that will help you get started with your marketing plan, to download, simply fill in your details below.[optin-cat id=5821]
Or if you are ready to take things to the next step you can participate in my 6-week Marketing Kickstarter online workshop, with strategies to help YOU take control of your marketing.
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