An effective marketing plan is an essential document for any business to approach new customers, revive inactive customers, and to influence current customers to spend more on your products and services.
Your marketing plan will describe in detail how you will set about achieving your sales and marketing targets. Many small businesses don't have a marketing plan, so by creating one, your business has the opportunity of standing out from your competitors.
- Key Elements
The key to marketing a business and being successful within a chosen market is to create a plan based around one or more of the following:
- Attracting more customers.
- Increasing the average sale amount.
- Making your customers purchase or use your services more often.
- Keeping your customers with you for life.
There is no need for your plan to be too complicated, clear and short is the best way.
- Marketplace and Potential Customers
Your marketing plan should provide detailed information about the marketplace and the potential customers to whom you wish to provide your products or services.
Having first identified a gap in the market and or weaknesses in competitor’s provision of similar products or services, a profitable market consists of customers who genuinely have a requirement for particular products or services and therefore will be the most obvious people to approach. Identifying a specific target market is essential for effective marketing - understanding exactly who your customers are, what they require and importantly what will persuade them to purchase from you. Research how customers currently purchase similar products or services including how and where these are advertised. By focussing, it will become easier and cheaper to contact potential customers direct and face less competition.
- Marketing Message
Once you have identified your target market customers, you will need to focus on developing your marketing message. This should explain what your product or service offers to persuade people to buy from you.
This type of marketing message needs to include the following elements:
- An explanation of your target customers' problem.
- Proof that this problem is important and that it should be solved without delay.
- An explanation of why you are the only supplier that can solve their problem.
- An explanation of the benefits by using your solution.
- Feedback examples from satisfied customers who have previously used your services.
- Prices, Payment terms and Guarantee.
- Marketing Methods
This is a crucial part of your marketing plan and will define the methods you will use to ensure your message reaches your target audience, this should identify exactly how you will sell your product or service. Your route to market will largely depend on the type of product or service you are selling and the target market you are trying to reach.
Using your understanding of your marketplace, you should choose the ideal marketing medium to deliver your marketing message. The best will be the one that reaches the most people in the specific target market you identified, at the lowest possible cost. Consider reserve alternatives to use if your initial choices do not produce your required results. There are many to choose from, the following examples are a selection showing different types of marketing media:
- Business cards
- Brochures and Catalogues
- Classified advertising
- Gift vouchers
- Networking events
- Newspaper and magazine advertising
- Online directories
- Posters and billboards.
- Press releases
- Sales letters
- Social Media
- Trade shows
- TV and radio advertising
- Window displays
- Word of mouth
- Targets and Goals
Realistic, specific targets and goals are crucial to the success of your marketing, being the difference between ‘aiming for success’ and ‘wishing for success’. Use the SMART formula: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time. Once these targets are set, your marketing plan should indicate how and when you will review and adjust them as required.
- Budget and Timetable
Your plan should include a budget, using exact or estimated figures, to allow you to undertake all your marketing activity together with a timetable. This timetable will identify specific marketing actions within activity timescales, including seasonal highs and lows and key annual events.
- Monitor and Review
Once underway, you will need to monitor and review your marketing progress continually, ideally on a monthly basis. Additionally, you will need to consider how to manage your marketing plan overall. For example, ensuring you don't spend your entire annual budget in the first couple of months. Decide how you will monitor results and think about how you will adjust the plan or introduce new tactics as you progress.