How to Create an Effective Marketing Plan
Written by Luke Glassford
A good product alone can’t get a company to reach its full potential. Whether you’re running a start-up or a well-funded company, it is important to have a marketing plan.
The right marketing plan can help you achieve a better ROI (return-on-investment) on your marketing spend, meaning you get more sales/leads for your money.
In this guide, we’ll explain what an effective marketing plan looks like and describe how you can build one for your business.
What is a marketing plan?
The first thing to make clear is that a marketing plan is different from a marketing strategy. A marketing strategy can change depending on factors such as the product or the goal of the business. For example, a marketing strategy could be the use of social media marketing to improve brand awareness.
On the other hand, a marketing plan is a collection of different marketing strategies. It could be a list of things that a company wants to achieve for the month, quarter, or the entire year.
It also includes a well-defined roadmap on how to achieve these goals.
A good marketing plan typically includes:
- Marketing and advertising goals of the business
- The current marketing activity and results
- The cost of the marketing strategies
- A timeline of the marketing strategies
- Key performance indicators (KPIs) that will be tracked and measured
Why is a marketing plan important?
So why formulate a marketing plan? Here are some reasons why you should take it seriously.
Sets the company apart from competitors
One of the hardest things to do is to stand out in an industry. A good marketing plan can help build a strong brand image, making the products and the company easy to remember. With the right approach, businesses can increase their brand value.
Gives businesses clear goals
Without any goal in mind, you can waste a lot of time and resources on marketing that does not work. On the other hand, goals can give businesses an easy-to-follow direction and focus.
Aside from having a target, a marketing plan also helps businesses track their progress. Along with goals, a good marketing plan includes KPIs that a business can track to monitor its progress over a certain period.
Helps businesses spend their resources better
Some marketing tactics are prohibitively expensive for small businesses. By developing and utilising a marketing plan, business owners can better organise where their resources are spent and make sure the business is getting the best ROI.
How to create a marketing plan
So how do you make a marketing plan? Here are steps that can help simplify the process.
1. Define measurable goals
The first step is to identify all the goals that you want to achieve. The secret to having a good goal is to be specific with what you put in your marketing plan. Instead of using vague goals, make sure that the goals are measurable.
For instance, instead of saying you want to grow your social media followers, you could state the aim is to have 100 more Twitter followers in one month. Here, you have a defined number of additional followers and a time frame.
2. Identify your market
The next step is to determine the profile of your customers/clients. Defining the ‘personas’ of your target market can help you position your marketing to that demographic.
Some of the most important aspects that businesses need to determine about their customers include their age, hobbies, income, habits, and motivators.
3. Extensive research on your competitors
Once you know who your customers are, you need to also study your competition. By doing an extensive competitor analysis you’ll discover what they are doing correctly and find out areas where your business can surpass the competition.
It also helps if you take a closer look at how your competition approaches their marketing tactics – so keep an eye on their social media profiles, sign up to their newsletters etc.
4. Define where your company is starting from
The next step is to determine your baseline. This way, you'll know exactly where your business is starting before implementing your marketing plan.
For instance, how many monthly visitors do you currently have on your website? How many followers engage with your posts?
Once you have these numbers, it becomes easier to determine whether or not the marketing strategies are effective.
5. Set out your marketing strategies
Next is to list down all the actionable marketing strategies that you can do to reach your goal. It is equally important to have a schedule of when to implement these marketing strategies.
If you're using content marketing as part of your marketing tactic, determine when you’re going to publish content. The same goes for social media posts and videos.
6. Track your progress
Lastly, you want to track your progress and define the KPIs that you need to track. Also, be sure to measure the progress regularly whether it’s weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.
With a tracking schedule, it’s easy to spot marketing strategies that don’t yield desired results.
Creating a marketing plan can help improve how a business interacts with its market. It has the potential to grow the business not just in sales but in its overall presence as well.
It’s worth remembering, though, that your marketing plan should be flexible enough for you to react and shift focus if a certain strategy isn’t getting results – or if you need to push more resources into a strategy that is working well.
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