A clear marketing plan will keep your business focused on what matters and help you avoid wasting money and time on things that don’t work.
Why have a marketing plan?
A marketing plan is an essential tool for every small business, put simply, it will help you to achieve your business goals. Just as you plan for other aspects of your business, such as inventory management, staffing and cash flow, thinking ahead about your marketing strategies and having a marketing plan, means your business will run more smoothly, and your marketing efforts are more likely to pay off.
A marketing plan will ensure that you are delivering the right business messages, to the right audience, at the right time, through the most optimal channel; this means that you have a better chance of cutting through the noise and reaching your intended audience.
Putting a marketing plan in place doesn’t need to be a lengthy, time consuming or complicated process. Your marketing plan should support your business goals, be achievable and fall within a timeframe that suits your business needs whether that’s quarterly, half yearly or annually.
A marketing plan helps you stay focused.
Your marketing plan is a map to guide you toward your business goals – one that will get you there on time, on budget and with minimum stress. A plan will help you coordinate your efforts and structure your options. With a plan, you are more likely to be realistic about your time and capacity. A plan will help you stay organised and on track throughout the year. Your marketing is more likely to get done when you take the time to identify what you want to do and when you want to do it. Additionally, when you don’t have a scattered approach to marketing your efforts are more likely to pay off.
Start with the big picture.
To start creating your marketing plan, firstly re-visit your business goals, identify your market, consider what makes your business unique in this market. Who are your competitors and what are they doing? Are there any upcoming events and opportunities to help you accomplish your goals? Are there any opportunities or threats on the horizon? Consider the natural cycles of your industry. Then focus on your customers, their needs and think about how you can stay relevant. Are your existing customers looking for something that your business isn’t providing? Are there any new audiences that you would like to target and if so, what are they looking for from a business like yours?
Narrow down and formulate ideas.
Once you have considered the wider picture, narrow down and think about individual marketing ideas that would provide the best outcome to help you achieve your business goals in your market. Determine what you would need to do to implement these ideas, assign each a date for completion, then work backwards from your desired completion date. For each idea think about who you are wanting to reach? what do you want to say? how would you like them to respond? which channel or platform offers you the most effective way to reach them and at when is the optimal time to reach them?
The next important step is to list the ideas in order of priority. To assist with this prioritisation process, think about which ideas are most aligned with your business goals, which will deliver the most impact? which are the most cost effective? Be realistic when it comes to prioritising your ideas, in terms of your available budget, available resources to execute the idea and time constraints.
Also, examine your ideas to see whether any can be used to achieve more than one goal.
Set achievable activity plans.
Further develop and add detail to the marketing ideas so that they evolve into marketing activities that can be easily implemented. Each activity needs an allocated budget, timeline for delivery, a mechanism to measure the success of the activity and identification of who is responsible for delivery (this may include a combination of internal staff and external suppliers such as creative agencies). The collection of your marketing activities forms your marketing plan for the period that you have specified. Your marketing activities may be anything from thought leadership generation, email campaigns, social media campaigns, events, webinars, blog posts, new product/service launches, a new website or sponsorship of a community event, to name a few.
Make sure you incorporate your marketing plan (activities within) into your current business plan and calendar. When you plan your marketing efforts and merge them smoothly with your other business responsibilities and commitments, they are more likely to happen and payoff.
Review your efforts and learn what works and what doesn’t work.
Measurement and analysis are often the most overlooked component of a marketing plan. When you are planning each of your marketing activities make sure that you have included a measurement mechanism. After each marketing activity is completed spend a little time to review the results and document what worked well, what didn’t, areas that could be improved or tweaked for next time. This process is invaluable in helping you determine where to allocate your future marketing spend and efforts.
Finally, don’t forget to put in place a process that allows you to document any customer, prospect or industry feedback. You can use any positive feedback as testimonials for your business and negative feedback to learn and improve. Feedback generated from your marketing activities provides your business with invaluable insights into the mindsets, motivations and behaviour of existing and potential customers.
Now is the right time to start developing your marketing plan for 2020. If you put time aside now and develop your business’s marketing plan, your business will hit the ground running in the new year!
Spindrift Marketing helps small to medium sized businesses to create marketing strategies and plans that deliver business priorities. We can also help you to implement your plan if you need as we provide a full suite of outsourced marketing services. Contact us today to discuss how we can help your business thrive on email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: 0402 833 499.