A marketing plan is a key component of building a successful business. But while many new entrepreneurs are experts at building business models and plans, a good marketing plan can be a bit more difficult. At Platinum Passports Marketing, we offer expert assistance to guide you in how to develop a marketing strategy, and if you’re not familiar with creating a good marketing plan, you should contact us for assistance.
If you’re just looking to learn some of the basics, you can work with a marketing plan template or guide to get started. Here are a few of the basics on developing a good marketing plan.
Researching Your Market
Before you try to develop a marketing strategy, you should always do copious amounts of research. You’ll need to make many decisions about your business’s structure and finances, and have plenty of information regarding your target market. A thorough analysis of your current market is one of the most vital pieces of data to ensure you choose the best marketing strategies to make the business grow.
When studying your market, you’ll want to answer the following questions:
- Who is your ideal customer?
- Why would they want to buy your product or services over your competitors?
- What similar products are currently on the market?
- What niche can you fill that sets you apart from the competition?
- How will you succeed where others have failed?
The more information you have about your target market, the better equipped you will be to develop a marketing strategy. If you need further guidance on answer these questions, you can look for a marketing plan template or guide to get you started. However, professional marketing help will offer you greater success.
Setting Your Objectives
Now it’s time to set your objectives for your marketing plan. A good marketing plan sets objectives that are clear, measurable, and realistic. You should also set deadlines, include a budget, and delegate any associated responsibilities. Once those objectives are set, you’ll want to outline the steps required to help you reach those objectives. Be as detailed as possible in determining the right marketing strategies to make the business more successful, and the path to get you there.
Remember to set both short-term and long-term goals. What do you want to accomplish within your first year? How does that compare to what you hope to accomplish in the next ten years? You may also want to include your company’s vision statement when setting your objectives, as this can act as a guide for your overall company goals.
Developing the Strategy
Now it’s time to really start assessing your strategy. First, ask yourself how you will enter the market. Rarely do you want to just open up shop without any initial marketing efforts. Develop a marketing strategy that will help you attract customers before you’ve even opened your doors. This can help you make a bigger impact on opening day, and draw in more customers.
Then, decide how you’re going to continue attracting customers. There are many marketing strategies that make businesses successful; but not every strategy is going to work for every business. You need to develop a marketing strategy that will work specifically for your company.
Ask yourself why this is a good marketing plan for your business in particular. How and why will this strategy work for you? If you can’t explain to yourself why your current strategy is going to pay off, then it probably won’t.
Assessing Your Sales Forecast
This is arguably the least enjoyable part of creating a marketing plan, and probably the most difficult one to handle properly—no marketing plan template or guide will be able to give you the objective, honest answers that you need here. Often, it is best to ask someone outside of your business for assistance in this area. You might be able to rely on a financially literate friend to assist you with this. However, it is usually best to get expert help. You’ll need to answer all of the following questions:
- How much money do you need up front?
- Where will you get these funds?
- What portion of the funds need to come from outside sources?
- How much of your own money will you be putting into the business?
- What are your anticipated expenses?
- How long can you operate with the projected startup funds mentioned above?
- What is the anticipated demand for your product or service?
- How much growth potential is there for this product or service?
Assessing a new business’s finances might seem unrelated to a good marketing plan. However, it is essential to understand what funds you have to work with while you develop the marketing strategy. It can also help to guide you in developing a pricing strategy—a key component in marketing, especially for new businesses.
Your S.W.O.T Analysis
Now, you need to objectively address some key aspects of your business. Those aspects are:
- Strengths (e.g., your experience working in this industry)
- Weaknesses (e.g., a less-than-desirable business location)
- Opportunities (e.g., a new export opportunity that is available)
- Threats (e.g., a new competitor entering the market)
These make up your S.W.O.T. analysis, and can help guide you in finding the right marketing strategies to make the business a success. Understanding your strengths and opportunities gives you a guide in how to market your business—taking advantage of opportunities and highlighting your strengths to your potential customers.
For your weaknesses and threats, you should also outline the steps you will take to either address or reduce each item, along with a date of when you hope to have those steps accomplished.
Targeting Your Ideal Demographic
As any online marketing plan template or guide can tell you, one of the most important components of a successful marketing plan is determining exactly who you are marketing to. You need to not online define who your target customers are, but how they behave. You need to know their age, gender, social status, education, and attitude. What is their lifestyle like? What activities do they participate in? What are their values, needs, interests, and opinions?
Identify your key customers. Some business owners even create “character sheets” for each of their ideal customers, in order to better understand that consumer’s motivations and desires. Now, ask yourself how you will target your products and services to these individuals. How will you deliver those products or services? How will you maintain a good relationship with your customers and keep them coming back to you?
Understanding how your consumers think and behave is one of the most important marketing strategies to make a business successful.
Selecting Advertising Channels
Now it’s time to get into the little details regarding exactly how you will market your business. This is an enormous endeavor; not only will you need to select your ideal advertising channels and promotional strategies, but you’ll also need to outline the following information for each of your promotional efforts:
- The type of advertising being used
- The promotional strategy behind this effort
- How this will improve your business
- Cost of the marketing
- When it will be done
Beyond this, you’ll need to assess your sales and distribution channels, which products will be sold through which channels, the percentage of sales you expect to see from each channel, and the distribution strategy. The sheer complexity of this area alone makes it virtually impossible to accomplish with only a marketing plan template and guide. It is far more advisable to work with a marketing expert for this.
It’s important to know that a good marketing plan is not a one-time effort. You should review and revisit your strategy on a regular basis, and adapt it as your business grows and your market changes. Even the most successful marketing strategies can’t provide consistent growth unless you work on it consistently. So, even after you’ve developed your marketing plan, and even if you’ve implemented it successfully, come back to it on a regular basis if you want it to continue to work for you.
A good marketing plan is not a single sheet of paper, and it’s not something that you can accomplish alone in a single day. It takes hours upon hours to develop a marketing strategy. And, because every business is different, a simple marketing plan template or guide simply can’t give you everything you need. You don’t want marketing strategies to make a business successful; you want marketing strategies to make your business successful.
If you want a sure-fire marketing plan to help your business grow, contact Platinum Passports Marketing. We’ll guide you through every step and ensure that your marketing strategy is tailored to your exact needs to help achieve long-term success.