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What’s a Marketing Plan, and Why Does Your Business Need One?

You’ve got a business idea and a solid plan built around it. There’s no reason you shouldn’t succeed. But your sales aren’t where they need to be.

I know how you feel. You spent a lot of time building an effective business plan that considered your marketing strategy. So what went wrong?

When you created the marketing section of your business plan, you weren’t as experienced as you are now. And as we all know, we learn more about our customers and target market every day. As we learn more our strategies can change.

You didn’t know precisely how the market was going to react. You also didn’t have the pressure of people counting on you to make all the right decisions. But you feel that pressure now. And you’re not sure you have the correct answers.

Now that you’ve established your business, it’s time for a complete marketing plan to grow it. 

What is a Marketing Plan? 

A marketing plan is a roadmap that helps you introduce and deliver your products and services to consumers.

When I started 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 to create one. I was wrong.

Effective marketing plans don’t need to be long or cumbersome to implement. The more concise they are, the more impactful they can be.

But even if they don’t need to be long, they require good, solid, informed research and effort. The work you put into a marketing plan now will help ensure your business’s success in the near future. It also will be easier to update the plan to continue guided growth.

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 the direction for your next initiatives.

Why Does Your Business Need One?

Have you heard the quote, “A goal without a plan is just a wish”? It summarizes why your business needs a marketing plan. Without a marketing plan, your business doesn’t have a full growth strategy. Instead, you’re hoping that people will find your business and recognize your brand’s value. You’re hanging your business’s success on a wish.

A marketing plan is necessary because it:

  • Ensures you understand you identify and understand your customers
  • Helps you focus your marketing efforts
  • Aligns your business goals with your marketing objectives
  • Assists in strategically growing your business
  • Creates brand awareness and name recognition
  • Expands your market
  • Helps you use resources wisely

These are just some of the things a marketing plan does. Most importantly, creating and implementing the plan means you’re being proactive about growing your business instead of just waiting and wishing for customers to find it.

person writing on white paper
Photo by Brands&People on Unsplash

Marketing Plan Components

Marketing plans vary based on your industry, the type of products or services you offer, and your business goals. But I’ve never seen an effective marketing plan that didn’t include at least 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 should include a short synopsis of your business’s current situation, what your upcoming plans are, and how you intend to make them happen.

Situational Analysis

This area will detail the context of your marketing efforts. Within it, you need to take a microscopic look at external and internal factors influencing your strategies and decision-making.

A lot of businesses do a SWOT analysis in this section. This analysis combines the internal and external analysis and summarizes the business’s weaknesses, strengths, threats, and opportunities.

Business Goals

What are you attempting to accomplish for your business? You want to ensure that your marketing plan aligns with your business goals and objectives and furthers your strategic cause. You can’t create a strategic plan (or run a successful business) if you don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish.

Target Market

An understanding of your target market is one of the most fundamental parts of an effective marketing plan. But, I’ve seen more plans than I care to admit that didn’t include target market details and strategies.

A wise business person knows you can’t market your products or services to everyone. The market is too large, and you probably won’t get heard. It’s vital 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 starting marketing, you must get as specific with your target market as possible. Then you need to segment it into even smaller groups for particular 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.

Marketing Objectives

Your marketing plan’s objectives support your business goals and focus the plan’s strategies. To align your business goals and marketing goals, you must be clear on your business objectives.

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?

Be sure the objectives are specific, measurable, and time-bound.

Marketing Strategies

Don’t get bogged down by the word “strategy.” It doesn’t need to be complicated.

Think of a marketing strategy as an approach you can take to achieve your objectives. 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 personalized email invites to highlight the rewards each individual would be interested in.

When you understand your target market and identify your plan’s objectives, you’re marketing strategies become much more obvious.

Marketing Tactics

Your tactics are the detailed actions you plan to take to achieve your marketing strategies. Exactly how you plan to implement your tactics is outlined here.

Let’s 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 ensure every email has a customer name and one high-detailed reward customized based on their buying habits.

You would then include a short link to a sign-up form to participate 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.

Messaging Guidelines

Bad messaging will reflect poorly on your business. Well-crafted, insightful messaging will help establish you as a leader in your market.

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, you must set general guidelines for business messaging. Then start using them to craft more specific messages for individual campaigns and target market segments.

Set a Budget

Marketing budgets aren’t about how much money you spend. They’re about how to best allocate the funds you have for marketing efforts.

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. But you don’t want just to throw money out there and hope something works. Instead, you want to determine exactly what you need to do (objectives), how you’ll do it (strategies and tactics), and what it will cost to achieve those desired results. 

Evaluation and Tracking

This marketing plan section needs to include procedures and plans for tracking every marketing activity you engage in.

Proper tracking allows you to monitor each planned and executed activity’s effectiveness. Without measuring and tracking 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. Too many businesses waste time and resources operating this way. If you feel stuck on creating your own marketing plan, book a call. Let’s talk about how we can partner to build your accomplish your goals and grow your business.

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