Planning is one of the smartest things a small business owner can do for their business. Your basic marketing plan can form part of your business plan as it will help you take a structured approach to developing products and services in your business that meet the needs of your target market. The right marketing plan identifies everything from 1) who your target customers are to 2) how you will reach them, to 3) how you will retain your customers.
Here’s what to include in a basic marketing plan.
Define your target audience
Who is your ideal audience? This impacts almost every aspect of your marketing and sales process.
It pays to get clear on the characteristics of that person, so you can find and present them with a message that moves them to action.
Your target market is not everyone that is breathing. Try and identify and include the following:
- B2B or B2C
- Current job role
- Goals & Challenges do they present
- Preferred Communication
- What social media do they use?
- What’s their search behavior
Identify who your competitors are and look at what marketing they are currently doing. Look at their website, what information does it have on it, are they ranking in search engines, do they have social media and if so what platforms, how many followers do they have, do they get engagement?
Benchmark yourself against your competitors based on your current situation. It’s always a good idea to check back in on them every few months and to see if there are any new players.
A SWOT analysis is an essential part of a basic marketing plan. It gives a good all-around view of your businesses current and forward-looking situation. S.W.O.T stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
- STRENGTHS – within your organisation, what do you do better than others, what’s your USP (unique selling proposition).
- WEAKNESSES – within your organisation, what can you improve, what should you avoid.
- OPPORTUNITIES – external factors that can be useful to your business, changes to policies, trends.
- THREATS – external factors that present threats to your business, obstacles, competition.
Set Objectives/Define Your Goals
Marketing really is a numbers game. Marketing efforts that won’t directly or indirectly bring in new business have absolutely no point. Set useful, actionable goals that are specific!
Align the goals to those of your business and look at them across the entire buying lifecycle. Your buyers have a goal—to fill a need or solve a problem they have.
Strategy & Marketing Mix
An effective strategy defines the overall direction for your marketing. The elements that make up your marketing strategy are generally known as the marketing mix and includes the 7 P’s – product, pricing, position, promotion, people, process and physical environment.
How are you going to implement your strategy, with what and when? Try not to repeat too much of what you’ve said in the strategy section, keep it simple and fact based.
Consider how you will measure and report on your goals. Are there specific KPI’s (key performance indicators) that relate to your strategy or objectives. What tools will you use for reporting and will you do this on a weekly or monthly basis?
Having a basic marketing plan is essential for keeping you on track. Write it down and act on it, even is business is going really well.