Marketing without a marketing plan is like driving with your eyes closed. If you want to grow your business, it’s essential that you invest in marketing. A marketing plan will help you organize your efforts and put your resources to the best use. It is designed to help you most effectively carry out your marketing strategy. If you’re unsure how to go about developing a marketing plan, this is the guide for you. In this post we break down the components of a marketing plan to form the ideal marketing road map for your business.
Marketing Plan Components
A good marketing plan consists of well-thought out components. You should invest some time into researching your market and your business goals. For an example marketing plan that features with fully fleshed out marketing components, you can find sample marketing plan templates online. For a general overview, here are the must-have components of a small business marketing plan:
You must allocate a certain amount of money to your marketing budget. Even if you’re a small business and your initial budget will be tight, even close to nonexistent, you should plan what you will do with that budget. It’s possible to market your business without a budget, but most businesses have something to spend on marketing, even if its just $30 a month for a website.
Related: Marketing Without a Budget
Not sure how much to budget for marketing? There is no strict guideline, but your marketing budget also depends on how powerfully and quickly you want to grow. In this situation, the old adage holds true: you have to spend money to make money. Generally, however, experts recommend that companies spend approximately five percent of their total revenue on marketing. This is the estimated amount record to maintain a company’s current position. Companies looking to grow should budget for more—upwards of ten percent.
Marketing goals are long-term milestones for your business. DIn developing your marketing plan goals, try to envision where you’d like to see your business in the next six months, next year, or even next five years? They can be quantitative or qualitative.
Examples of marketing goals are:
- Sales dollars
- Units sold
- Market share
- ROI on advertising
- Brand awareness
- Public relations achievements
- Number of new accounts or client relationships
- Share of customer’s business
Remember that your marketing goals are very important. They serve as the “bigger picture,” reminding you of your path over the next few years. Read this blog post for examples of marketing goals that might work for your business.
Marketing objectives are the stepping stones by which you measure the success of your goals. Marketing objectives should be somehow quantifiable. They should follow SMART criteria—they should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based. That is, your marketing objectives should be set along a timeline, and they should be short-term goals.
You should have weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly objectives. You may even have daily marketing objectives. Consider your marketing goals and what steps and growth have to take place in order to achieve them. These small steps will be your marketing objectives.
Examples of marketing objectives include:
- Achieve at least 10 Facebook likes per post by end of month
- Get 5 new patients each month
- Have 100 unique site visitors daily
- Increase number of inquiries from marketing activities by 20% end of the year.
What to Include in a Marketing Plan
When developing a marketing plan, you must first study your target market. You should be a master of your industry in terms of knowledge before setting any goals for your company. Think of this as scouting out the landscape before drawing a map.
Make sure you gather the following information:
- Marketing research. It is vital that you study your target market. Identify your market size, buying trends within the industry, market growth or decline, and any current themes.
- Target market. You must know your target market. If you’re targeting, who are they? Male, female? What age group? What socio-economic status? Do they share a hobby or profession? A well-defined target market description will show you your target market. For example, if you are a bike company, you may contact both commuters and young people.
- Positioning. You need to evaluate your company’s current position in the market. What do people think about your brand? Does it have a reputation, a voice? For example, if you are a sandwich shop, do people come to you as a healthy option, or when they’re craving a hearty meal?
- Competitor analysis. It’s key that, in studying your market, you also take time to study your competitors. How do your products or services differ? Is customer service different or superior to yours? What is the price point at which they are selling? What is their target market? These are questions you may have to a bit of imagination and intuition to answer, but having these answers are key to crafting your own marketing budget.
Developing a Marketing Plan
Drafting a marketing plan may seem like an overwhelming task, particularly for new or smaller businesses with smaller budgets. In today’s day and age, however, marketing takes many forms, and many sample marketing plans are free. For businesses with even the tiniest purses, there are marketing techniques and strategies that can bring great success.
A marketing plan is not just a budget; it is a roadmap to your business’ growth. If you aren’t sure where to begin, gather your business advisors and marketing people around you. Have everyone contribute to providing as much information on your market and industry as possible. Have everyone pitch in ideas on what goals and objectives are realistic and practical.
Lastly, be flexible. A marketing plan should never be static; it can and should be subject to change. Don’t be afraid to swap up your marketing objectives, or even totally change your marketing goals. As you learn more about which marketing strategies are most successful for your business, you should streamline your marketing efforts to reflect what works best. It’s a sometimes tedious process that yields amazing results. When it comes to marketing, you reap what you sow, so sow well!