You’ve got your business idea in place and a solid business plan built around it. There’s no reason you shouldn’t succeed. But your sales just aren’t where they need to be.
I know how you feel. You spent a lot of time building an effective business plan that took your marketing strategy heavily into account. So what went wrong?
You have to remember that when you created the marketing section of your business plan, you weren’t as experienced as you are now. You didn’t know exactly how the market was going to react.
You also didn’t have the pressures of a lot of people counting on you to make all the right decisions.
Well, you’re feeling that pressure now. And you’re not sure you have the right answers.
That means it’s time for a marketing plan.
What Is a Marketing Plan?
Stated simply, your marketing plan is a full roadmap that helps you introduce and deliver your products and services to consumers.
When I first started out learning about effective marketing plans, I thought they needed to be extremely long and insanely detailed. I figured it would be more of a resource suck than an added benefit.
I was completely wrong.
Effective marketing plans don’t need to be long. In fact, the more concise they are, the more impactful they can be.
But even if they don’t need to be long, they do require a good amount of research and effort. The work you put into a marketing plan right now will ensure the success of your business down the road.
Your marketing plan will help you understand and dissect the market you’re targeting and the competition you’re up against. It will help you understand how your decisions impact results while driving direction for your next initiatives.
Marketing plans vary based upon the industry you’re in, the type of products or services you offer and your business goals. But I’ll tell you personally that I’ve never seen an effective marketing plan that didn’t include the following key components.
Yours should too.
Summary and Brief Introduction
This section is a high-level overview of your marketing plan’s main points.
It needs to include a short synopsis of what you’ve already done, what your upcoming plans are and how you intend on getting there.
This area will detail the context of the efforts you make in marketing. Within it, you need to take a microscopic look at external and internal factors that influence your strategies and decision-making.
In my years of experience, I’ve seen a lot of businesses do a SWOT analysis. This analysis combines the internal and external analysis and summarizes the business’s weaknesses, strengths, threats and opportunities.
What is a marketing plan without talking about objectives?
The objectives of your marketing plan will be set in order to support the goals and strategy of the business as a whole. For you to reach an alignment between your business goals and your marketing goals, it’s important that you’re clear on what your business objectives are.
What particular aspects of your business objectives can your marketing plan directly impact?
To put it another way, if your business objective is to reach $10 million in sales by the end of the year, how can your marketing plan help accomplish it?
Goals for Marketing
The goals that you set will, of course, directly tie into your business objectives as a whole. But these goals will only focus on business segments that marketing has the ability to influence.
For example, your company objective might be to increase repeat business revenue by 25% by mid-year. Your marketing-related goal could be to implement a customer rewards program that gives repeat buyers added incentives to come back to you.
Your Target Market
This is one of the most basic parts of an effective marketing plan. However, I’ve seen more than I care to admit that didn’t include target market details and strategies.
A smart business person knows that you can’t market your products or services to everyone. The market is too large and you probably won’t get heard. This makes it important to properly identify who your ideal customer is.
What does your target customer enjoy? What do they dislike? How old are they? Are they married or single?
Most importantly, where can they be found?
Before you can begin marketing, you need to get as specific with your target market as you possibly can. Then you need to segment it down further into even smaller groups for specific promotions you plan on running.
The better you understand your target market, the smarter you’ll be with allocating resources and crafting messages that resonate.
Don’t get bogged down by the scope of the word “strategy.” It doesn’t need to be difficult.
Think of a marketing strategy as an approach you can take to achieve the goals you’ve set. Let’s say you’re attempting to sign up 10,000 new customers for your customer rewards program next month. Your specific strategy could be to introduce customers to the program with email invites that are personalized to highlight the rewards each individual would be interested in.
When you understand your target market, you’re marketing strategies become much more obvious.
Your tactics are the actions you plan on taking to achieve your marketing strategies.
Let’s take another look at our rewards program and how it relates to setting your marketing tactics.
You decided to introduce your rewards program with personalized email invites to your list. One tactic you could implement would be to make sure every email has a customer name and one high-detailed reward that’s customized based upon their buying habits.
You would then include a short link to a sign-up form to get involved in the rewards program.
Just like that, you’ve set two individual marketing tactics that you’ll need to act on when the time comes.
Guidelines for Messaging
Bad messaging will reflect poorly on your business. Well-crafted, insightful messaging will help establish you as a leader in your market.
In fact, it’ll help you stand out from your competitors, reach a receptive audience and demonstrate the value of your business to consumers.
In your marketing plan, it’s important to set general guidelines for business messaging. Then start using them to craft messages that are more specific and targeted for individual campaigns and target market segments.
Set a Budget
How much can your business afford to spend on your marketing campaigns? More importantly, how much can you afford NOT to spend? It’s virtually impossible to grow your business without a healthy investment in marketing.
Evaluation and Tracking
This is the section of a marketing plan that needs to include procedures and plans for tracking every marketing activity you engage in.
Proper tracking allows you to monitor how effective each planned and executed activity is. Without measuring and tracking all of your efforts, you’ll never know which ones were successful or why.
Evaluating and tracking your efforts help you learn, adjust and make better decisions on the fly.
It’s Time to Get Started on Your Marketing Plan
Don’t waste another day trying to market your products and services without a solid marketing plan in place. I’ve seen too many businesses waste too many resources operating this way.
If you feel stuck on creating your own marketing plan, talk to the experts at Content Journey. We’ll provide you with a full marketing audit, then turn around a full marketing plan for your business within two weeks.
Putting your new marketing plan into action will be just what your business needed.