If you are running a business or thinking of starting one, you should have a plan on how to promote it. A marketing plan lays the foundation for your business growth and can efficiently improve it. A good marketing plan should include everything: what market you are targeting to and how you will gain and retain your customers. Also, it never ends: it is always a project in progress, because as you start your business and gather more information and data, you need to be flexible and always adjust your plans.
Here is a good way to start your own marketing plan. Follow the steps below and get started.
Perform a situation analysis
Situation analysis is the process of evaluating the internal and external conditions that affect your business and its success. It will help you identify opportunities and challenges while build the foundation for designing a customised strategy.
Here are the most important factors to consider in a situation analysis:
Your products and their distribution
Review carefully your current products and services. Do they meet your customers’ needs?
Your competitive advantage
It may be small or maybe you haven’t spotted it yet. However, not all businesses have a competitive advantage because all businesses are unique. In order to determine your competitive advantage, you need to identify your key competitors, their products positioning, their strengths and weaknesses.
Finally, you should use this information and create a SWOT analysis. A SWOT analysis records the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and risks. It is usually in the form of a table divided into four sections (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats).
Define a target market
This is the most important part of any marketing plan. Conduct an in-depth research of your targeted market. Make sure you understand its basic characteristics, such as demographics, geographical location, trends, interests and challenges.
Your targeted market should then be divided into target groups. After creating and analysing each of the target groups, we strongly recommend you to create 3-5 Customer Personas in order to keep this information organised. A Customer Persona is a fictitious model of an ideal customer, which includes his age, preferences and dislikes, income, routine, etc.
Marketing plan strategy
Here, you should include all the ways in which you intend to approach your target groups. Today, there are more ways than ever to reach your potential customers. You can choose traditional advertising (e.g newspapers, billboards) or try the constantly evolving digital marketing ways, such as paid ads, SEO and content marketing. Most companies choose a combination of those two.
However, marketing strategy planning should include detailed answers to questions such as: Which offline marketing actions will you include? How do you plan to reach your consumers online? Will you use PPC ads? Will you use Social Media? How will you promote word of mouth through a great customer experience? What is the estimated cost of acquiring new customers?
Here are two tips we can offer: Do not be afraid to try new things and do not try to do too much at once. It can be much more effective to focus on 2 or 3 marketing activities than to deal with 10.
Goals and Budget
Finally, once you figure out how to attract customers, you need to set specific goals. What do you need to achieve through your marketing actions in order to reach your overall business goals?
Here, you can use the SMART method. The criteria for SMART goals are usually attributed to Peter Drucker’s idea of Management by Objectives.
Once you have set your goals and defined the ways to achieve them, you need to set a budget. At this point, if you feel that achieving your goals is too expensive, you may want to re-evaluate your marketing strategy and get rid of your less effective ideas. It is also possible to re-evaluate your goals in order to finally find the right balance of benefits and costs for your business’ current state. This is what it takes to create a marketing plan! Good luck.
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