No matter how big or small your business is, before you can decide what the best marketing channels are for your business, you need to create a marketing plan.
A Marketing Plan is a document created by a business owner, marketing manager or marketing staff that identifies the following:
The purpose of a Marketing Plan is to help you really understand your strengths, your target audience, industry needs and how to set goals for your business. It will also identify the marketing channels you can test, actions you will take, estimated costs and more.
You can follow along with the steps below by downloading our Marketing Plan Questionnaire & Worksheet available in the Resources section of our website.
Market Needs/Trends: What is happening in your industry right now? Is there a specific need that you can provide a solution for? What is trending currently?
Products/Services: Make a list of all the products and service you offer and then describe the benefits those products and services provide your customers. You don’t want to list product or service features here. Make sure to think like your customers by asking yourself “what’s in it for me” and describe how your product or service will enhance the life or business of your customer.
Competitors: Who are your direct competitors? What strengths and weaknesses do you think they have? Can you identify what kind of marketing they’re doing? Don’t guess; ask some of your customers or potential customers what they could be receiving from your competitors.
Target Audience: Describe your ideal customer (individual or business). It may be helpful to look at some of your best customers and create a customer profile that includes information about them like gender, age, income, marital status and other demographics. Or, profile top business customers by size, annual revenue, etc.
What is your USP? What differentiates you from your competitors? Can you save your business customers time? Do you offer the lowest price on specific products? How does your customer service compare to your competitors? Do you have the most experience?
Where are your customers? Which social media sites to they often visit? What is the best way to reach them… print ads and classifieds or Internet advertising and email marketing?
What are the estimated costs for marketing efforts needed to reach your customers? Take some time to research this. Do you need a Business Identity Package? How about a responsive website? If you determine that email marketing will work for you, list the costs for an ESP (email service provider), copywriting and graphic design. Do you have staff available to handle your marketing efforts or will you need to outsource it?
Annual Budget: Determine what funds will be allocated for your annual marketing budget.
Key Strategic Indicators: What will be the key indicators to help you determine that your marketing plan is working?
Marketing Task List: Create a task list that helps you prioritize and schedule marketing activities. Include a start date, estimated costs along with expected and actual results.
Working through our Marketing Questionnaire & Worksheet is an important first step in creating a successful marketing plan for your business. Please let us know if you have any questions or some tips to share by commenting below.