This post will explain how to write a marketing plan. Most people understand the value of building a business plan. But many business owners, marketers, or other key stakeholders may not realize that creating a marketing plan is important. This can limit your success when marketing your business or organization. Whether you need a marketing plan for your small or large business, the principles are the same.
Unlike a business plan, a marketing plan will focus on your strategy to win and keep customers. A marketing plan includes projected numbers, supporting facts, and sales objectives.
Your marketing plan determines the tools and tactics you use to achieve your sales goals.
A marketing plan is your plan of action. Marketing plans define what you sell, who will want to buy, and the tactics you will use to generate leads. Take the time to develop a unique marketing plan that will set you apart from the competition.
Whether you’re a large or small business, a solid marketing plan will help define the path for your sales goals.
Step 1: Review the current state of your business by doing SWOT Analysis
Some will call it a situational analysis. Many business owners choose to use tools like SWOT analysis or others to complete this step. Take the time to review both internal and external business factors. Use this information to size up the current state of your business. In this example, we’ve used a SWOT analysis. Examples include:
What is the monthly revenue of your business?
How many existing customers do you have?
What are your product costs?
How many customers do you have, and what is your overhead?
Step 2: Describe your ideal target customer audience. Use buyer personas, behavior traits, and demographic information
Buyer personas are a fictional, generalized representation of your ideal customers. This helps when developing your messaging, to reach the ideal customer you aim to attract. Establishing a clear understanding of your buyer personas is key for content creation. This also helps with product development, sales strategies. Including anything that relates to customer acquisition or retention rates. Know your target client/customer.
Create a list of potential customers and identify the many segments of those markets. Each should include different demographic details or preferences. If you have an established business, start by describing your existing clients.
Some of the most important questions you’ll need to ask yourself when developing this list are:
What type of job do they have?
How much money do they make?
Do they have any common interests?
What school did they go to?
Where do they live?
What are they interested in?
Target customer personas include roles within a company. This might be the chief executive officer (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO), marketing director, or small business owner. But you should also include more personal attributes. See this example of a marketing persona:
For creating segments in B2C markets, consider which age groups are most interested in your products and services. For example, if your target market is attorneys, then there will be niche groups. You may be able to better target such as trial or defense attorneys, or even by the size of the firm.
You’ll want to create several different buyer personas based on different age groups. Or separate by wider demographic and interest categories. This way, you can develop unique content that will speak to each audience in the intended way. Then you won’t have to water down all your content to speak to the broadest possible audience. Creating niches in your content strategy will show an increase in customer satisfaction. This is because customers are likely to ignore other messages and focus on the ones that speak to them the most.
Step 3: Decide what your goals and objectives are for your marketing campaign
It might be helpful to start to working backward on what your goal is, and that should help you develop the path of how you can reach those goals. Your mission statement should clearly describe the nature of your business, range of services offered, and the target audience and the markets you want to sell to. Set daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals or targets.
Examples of marketing goals include:
- Increase revenue from $25,000 per month to $50,000 per month in 6 months.
- Sell X number of products in the next 6 months.
- Increase average product count per client from 2 to 4 in 6 months.
- Increase brand recognition and recall.
- 100 phone calls each month.
- 100 online form submissions each month.
- $50,000 in monthly e-commerce sales revenue.
Step 4: Determine your customer revenue values and target Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
How much does your product or service cost to sell?
When you know how much your product or services costs are, you’ll know how much you can spend to gain a new customer.
What is your profit per sale or per customer?
If you have many products or services, establish the average value per transaction. This amount will vary by product or service.
What is the lifetime value of each new customer?
With most products and services, the value of a new customer or client isn’t measured by first sale value. It should value by an annual value and a lifetime value.
Write down how much the average individual sale is. Then, how much that customer will spend over the course of a year. Also include the lifetime value if they keep buying from you.
Example: if a customer is buying a product from you for $100 per month, then the annual value would be $1,200. If the average customer is going to stay with you for three years, then the lifetime value of a new customer is $3,600.
How much would you be willing to spend to get a new customer or client?
The amount you can spend on acquiring a customer depends on the stage of the business. This might be what the revenues are, or how much you are able to invest in the future.
Scenario using the monthly customer value of $100 and the lifetime value of a customer of $3,600. If a business has 50% margins, then the one month value of a customer would be $50 and the lifetime value is $1,800.
What is your threshold on how much you’d spend to make the lifetime value of $1,800?
Step 5: Develop the marketing channels and tactics that you will focus on
There are endless ways to get your marketing message in front of your prospects on the internet.
You could use traditional advertising to place ads in newspapers and on billboards. But consider trying modern tactics like SEO and content marketing for your website. Whatever you do, first decide which channels you’ll use to turn your audience into prospects. Then, how you will turn them into paying customers.
It’s tempting to try everything at once to get a feel for it. A scattered approach will waste resources on channels that aren’t guaranteed to work. You want to get the desired return on investment from your marketing strategy. So make calculated, informed decisions about which channels can best reach target customers.
You can perform competitive research to discover new marketing opportunities. Your competitors have already spent time and money on figuring this out. Be careful not to mirror their strategy, because you’ll need a different approach if you want to get ahead.
Here is one of the best approaches to deciding which channels to use in your marketing strategy. Break down the potential channels into three sections: owned, earned, and paid media. This approach will allow you to focus on different market segments. Develop a rounded strategy to draw your audience in. Then you will be able to convert them into happy customers.
Step 6: Determine your monthly marketing budget
Crunching the numbers is important to find a baseline that can help measure progress. In your business plan, you’ve already detailed the entire financial side of your business. With your marketing plan, you will want to stay focused on marketing-related activities.
Figure out how much you plan to spend on marketing and promotion throughout the next year. Then include the action items you listed as part of your plan will cost you. You’ll want to answer the question of where this money will be coming from. Even though budgets aren’t very fun, it’s important to be honest with yourself. Discover if you need to alter your plan at the start. Don’t spend too much on something that will eat away your precious marketing budget and ROI.
Step 7: Setup measurement, refine, rinse and repeat
Here is the best thing about planning out an online marketing campaign, compared to traditional marketing. You can quantify and measure the actions users take. Find out how they interact with your website and advertisements. You no longer have to guess how effective your marketing strategy is!
By creating the budget and marketing plan before executing your strategy, you can then set “key performance indicators.” These will allow you to track progress in specific areas which let you know how well your plan is working toward your business goals.
Discover which online channels out-perform other channels. Then put more effort into those channels to drive your organization’s growth.
The easiest way to track campaign performance is to set up a Google Analytics account. This will help to measure website traffic from each source.
Once you have an analytics account setup, one of the first things you’ll want to do is setup conversion goals. Conversion goals may be form submissions, phone calls, e-commerce transactions. Or any other activity that your business would consider a lead.
Marketing Planning Ideas For Small Businesses
Conduct some preliminary market research in another local area
It’s worth it to pay members of your target audience to tell you exactly what they think of your marketing ideas. Pay customers for some of their time. This will let you invite them to come into your workspace and provide honest feedback. This will help you get a clearer picture of what your market wants out of your product and/or service offerings.
Why guess in the dark, when you could reach out and get a firm answer for your marketing strategy questions? Focus groups will avoid wasted expenses on bad marketing campaigns in the long run.
Conduct a focus group within your target market
Sometimes, it’s worth it just to pay members of your target audience to tell you exactly what they think of your marketing ideas. By paying people for their time and effort, you’ll be able to invite them to come into your workspace and provide honest feedback that will help you get a clearer picture of what your market wants out of your product and/or service offerings.
Why guess in the dark, when you could reach out and get a firm answer for your marketing strategy questions? In the long run, the upfront costs of conducting a focus group are likely to outweigh the wasted expenses on ineffective marketing campaigns later down the road.
Create and deliver a unique selling proposition (USP)
If your brand exists in a large marketplace, then you’ll be working uphill to convince people to buy from your organization over the competition. It’s recommended that you first learn from your competitors. If you approach your market by copying their strategy and aim to attract members from the same audience, then people will be able to spot this and it could hurt your brand’s reputation.
We highlight the importance of developing a marketing plan to establish what your business goals are. This will help you hone in on the most important aspects your business wants to highlight. Whether it’s your organization’s ability to provide stellar customer service, a “secret sauce” that all your customers rave about, or defining the quality of your brand then it’s important to communicate that clear message to your audience. If your message isn’t clear, or different than what others are offering, you’ll waste a large part of your efforts when deploying company resources.
Learn customer search intent and trigger phrases by using Amazon, Google, and Yelp reviews
This strategy works by looking for popular books or other similar products related to what you’re selling on Amazon, Google, Yelp, or others. You want to examine both the 5-star and 1-star reviews to identify some “trigger phrases.” Customers will be using them when talking about related products and/or services.
A trigger phrase is a set of words that describes a pain point, or a positive aspect the reviewer shared about a product or service. You can use trigger phrases to create attention-grabbing content that your audience will resonate with. This will, of course, drive increased sales opportunities. You should then compile and save a document (known as a “swipe file”) with all these customer terms and trigger phrases that you come across. Then you can refer to them later when you need to create some new content. You’ll be able to find all types of similar information within forums, online communities, review sites or apps.
Expand your product and service offerings
After you browse around and explore what your competitors are up to, consider offering a similar product or service that isn’t currently available to your target market. Of course, you’ll want to change it up and make it unique to your brand, and aligned with your specific business goals, but this can be a great way to keep innovation alive in your business and stay competitive.
Or, you may want to spend more time developing a unique product that you discover what is not already available by your competitors or other market participants. The that more you research, and the more that you learn from customer interactions about similar products and services, the more you’re likely to generate some novel ideas about how to tackle the same business problems.
Make sure you understand the laws and regulations on copyrights and trademarks. Remember to consult a legal specialist who has experience handling these types of requests. A successful company will try and protect their unique value proposition. This is to ensure their own success for as long as they can in your market.
Monitor your brand’s mentions using Google Alerts
As you move on to other marketing tasks, the focus shifts to developing and maintaining your online presence. It’s vital that you stay aware and listen to what people are saying about your brand. That way, you’re able to respond if there is a problem, or to take on new opportunities with lightning speed. You’ll also find the out if other sites are linking to you, quoting your articles, promoting for you, or especially, if they’re complaining about you.
Google Alerts, a free service, allows you to track your brand and your competitors. It works by using keywords and phrases to watch for any mentions based on parameters. This tool will enable you to respond fast when new information about your company is available in discussions online.