Advices to Write a Marketing Plan
Setting Your Objectives
The first step in developing your marketing plan is to establish the marketing objectives that will accomplish your business goals.
One of the steps you can take to create your objectives is to first create a vision statement, which is basically the long-term mission for your business that is both timeless and immediately inspiring for organization stakeholders. Every business has is it’s own brand, so in setting your vision, you should identify the attributes of your product or service that define the brand and its long-term positioning.
Another step that can help set objectives is to perform a S.W.O.T. analysis, where you identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats facing your business. By conducting such an analysis, you should identify the key insights and strategic plans that will drive your business over the next one-to-five years. This includes understanding, your five Cs—the consumer, channel, company, competition, and climate—deeply enough that when you finish, you should understand your point of difference in the market and where your opportunities lie.
The key is to be realistic and specific, but also set a limited number of marketing goals related to what you think is your target market.
Do your Research
Many businesses fail to use research to shape their plans by conducting market research and market analysis. Marketing plans that do not consider such research, however, will almost certainly waste money. The goal is simply to better understand who and where you customers are – something known as market segmentation.
One of your primary goals in conducting research is to set focus areas, which are the discipline in your plan. At this point you should tackle your priority geography and begin focusing on the product and service offering you do best.
Conducting research these days, though, does not have to be expensive. Anyone can access a wealth of information online from sources such as trade associations, media organizations, chambers of commerce, and other business groups. In addition, customer focus groups or roundtables can be a valuable – and relatively inexpensive – form of research.
Define the Strategies you Need
This is the point where you begin to address questions such as:
• How will you position your business against other business?
• What target markets are your best prospects to achieve your goals?
• How will you price your offerings to achieve your goals?
Strategies should be also broad enough to capture several specific tactics
“Ultimately, all work done on the business should fall into these strategies. If the work doesn’t satisfy the strategies, then it shouldn’t be done.
Build in Measurement for Each Tactic
In solid plans, tactics are thorough, all the way down to details concerning execution and measurements of success, such as launch dates and expected reach. The point is that you need to begin measuring whether the tactics are successful at delivering your objectives. You may even choose to stagger your tactics so that you can evaluate their effectiveness and learn which ones work best for your business.
Units of measurement can range from web traffic to retail foot traffic to increases in sales volume. Basically, you should strive to measure anything you can track to judge whether a tactic has made a difference.
Develop the Plan and Stick to It
Your plan is only as good as its implementation, so also create a plan for precisely how you are going to execute on it. Where appropriate, look to partner with other organizations to help with implementation.
If your plan includes advertising or events, sometimes the vendors will help with implementation. Depending on your area of business, you may also consider bartering services with other businesses. If you don’t currently have the resources available to take action, find someone who does.
Implement the Plan – and Stay Flexible
Never forget that the opportunities and risks you established in your S.W.O.T. analysis might dictate that the objectives you’ve established in your plan might not happen “as planned,” . A whole host of variables could come into play that you never considered in the beginning, such as changes in consumer demand, channel expansion, customer contracts, competitive responses, and supply costs.
That’s why the best advice is to rough out a plan and then put it down in detail with action items on a monthly calendar. Set a time to review the calendar each month, assess results and determine next steps.