When was the last time you dusted off that marketing plan you created for your business? Wait, you do have a marketing plan, right?
Well, if your marketing plan somehow found its way to the recycle bin or if you have actually never planned out a marketing strategy for your business then BusinessMarketingBlog is going to help you.
Before we jump into the 6 Simple Steps to Developing A Marketing Plan, it is important that you understand the following elements of every successful marketing plan:
1) Spend the time and resources to plot out your marketing strategy and budget
2) Implement your marketing plan
3) Analyze and adjust your marketing plan as needed
4) Refine your marketing plan for the upcoming year, quarter, month, etc.
6 Steps to an Effective Marketing Plan
Step 1: Define the Purpose of Your Marketing Efforts
Before you can create a successful marketing plan you must have a strong understanding of what the purpose of your marketing plan is.
QUESTION: What do I want people to do after they have been exposed to my marketing?
Your answer should be something very specific, not something vague like “I want my marketing to help my business grow.”
Here are some common purposes that business owners use to drive their marketing efforts:
- Get someone to pick up the phone and call me
- Entice someone to email me
- Get people to tell others about my marketing / business
HINT: The more thought and planning you put into this first step, the higher your conversion rates will be throughout your marketing efforts.
Step 2: Determine Your Competitive Advantage and Emphasize It
Now that you have pinned down a couple of the purposes for your marketing plan it is time to think about and plan out how you are going to get people to complete these actions.
QUESTION: Why will people take the specified actions you have identified?
You must determine what your competitive advantage is over your competitors. Sure, you probably have a lot of great benefits and value adds, but you need determine your one strongest and most specific competitive advantage.
HINT: Stress your competitive advantage as a solution to a problem (if possible).
Step 3: Determine Your Target Audience
Your marketing plan cannot be effective unless you know the specific demographics of the customers you are trying to reach. Again, try to be as specific as possible as the most effective marketing plans are centered around targeted, accurate broadcasting and not so much reaching the highest number of people possible. A thousand random prospects will usually not earn you as much profit as 10 of the right prospects.
QUESTION: Which group of people will be most accepting and willing to receive my marketing message?
You can save a ton of money by knowing who your target audience is and tailoring your marketing to that group of people.
HINT: Identify ALL of your target groups, BUT market to each group with tailored, targeted messages.
Step 4: Determine Your Marketing Methods
There are so many ways to market a business these days; however, only a few marketing methods and mediums are raising to the top as being the most cost effective and penetrating. Get out of your old, set ways of how marketing needs to be and expand your efforts into some of today’s most effective means of reaching prospects. Ask yourself this question:
QUESTION: Which marketing strategies will allow me to reach my prospects where they are without annoying or interrupting them and will I be able to directly track the results of these efforts?
Online marketing is one of, if not, the most cost effective ways to market a business these days. We recommend a comprehensive marketing campaign that includes all of the following online marketing methods:
- Business Website and/or Blog
- Paid Search Marketing
- Search Engine Optimization
- Social Media Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Video Marketing
HINT: Hire a professional to implement and maintain these online marketing services for you. You will save a ton of money in the long run.
Step 5: Determine Your Niche
Now that you have pin-pointed your purpose, benefits and target market, you need to define your niche. Ask yourself this question:
QUESTION: When people hear your product / business / company name, what’s the first thing that crosses their minds? Is it price, speed, exclusivity, service, value or something else?
Your answer to this is your niche, also known as positioning, and it is what your prospects see and expect from you. The more defined and specialized your business becomes, the more likely it is to succeed in the long run so put some thought into this one.
HINT: Once you define your niche, specialize in it as much as possible and communicate this niche throughout all of your marketing
Step 6: Determine Your Marketing Budget
Last, but most definitely not the least important, is to define what your marketing budget is for your business. Your marketing budget is something that should be evaluated at least 4 times a year, if not more. You should stick to your planned budget as much as possible. Too often do we see businesses get nervous in tough economies and decide to cut expenses with marketing being one of the first to see cuts.
QUESTION: Do you really think that cutting your marketing budget or holding off on aggressive marketing is going to position your business appropriately in any economy?
Marketing is not something you should ever cut corners on, especially in down economies when opportunities are ripe for cheaper market penetration. We recommend preparing to spend at least 10% of your gross sales on marketing your business.
HINT: Calculate your marketing budget using your projected gross sales; this will help you operate in a growth mode. If you work off of your current sales then you will be planning a marketing strategy to just tread water.
Putting It All Together
These 6 steps are more than enough to get you started on developing a real marketing plan for your business. There are many more elements to a full scale marketing plan that deserves time, research and planning; however, once this work is done and you are able to see, follow, analyze and refine your marketing plan we can almost guarantee that your business will be taken to new levels of success that you have not experienced yet.
Good luck and please let us know if you need assistance or have specific questions about any or all of the steps outlined above.