Every business needs to have a very definitive marketing plan in order to succeed. This will allow you to evaluate the market potential for your products or services and develop strategies to meet that potential. A good marketing plan is like a blueprint that involves setting goals, measuring results and tracking performance. It requires regular review and revision. There is no cookie-cutter marketing plan, and every business requires a custom plan. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be complicated in order to work. The simple plans, if researched and implemented effectively, have the greatest impact.
Here are the essential components of a marketing plan:
Market research – Research is the the backbone of any successful marketing plan. Gather information about the potential market for your product(s) and/or service(s). You need to ask yourself the following questions:
• Which customers are in need of your products and/or services?
• What are the buying behavior patterns?
• What product or service in the industry have a bigger market share?
• What market dynamics influence your target market?
• What are the barriers in the market?
• What competitors offer the same services or products?
• How well have your products or services sold in the past?
2. Target market – Define who your target audience is and how they receive their information. This is a simple task as it’s only a matter of figuring out what your niche is. You then need to figure out if there’s a need for your product or service. If your product or service is something that is needed by others, your goal is to figure out who those people are. You need to identify such attributes as gender, age group, where they live, their buying habits and their social values.
3. Competitive analysis – You need to know who your competitors are and how your products and services are different. Knowing the ins-and-outs of your competitors will help you better position your business and stand out from the competition. The more you know about your competition the better prepared you are to deal with it.
• What is their market share?
• What are their basic objectives?
• What were their past strategies?
• What are their current strategies?
• What type of media do they use to market their products or services?
• What are their strengths and weaknesses?
• What potential threats do they pose?
• What potential opportunities do they make available for you?
4. Tactics – These are the “how” of your marketing plan. This is where you define the actions that will bring your strategy to life. Ask yourself “How will I find and attract my most likely customers?” Write down the ways you want to use or are at least considering such as:
• Social media advertising
• Printed advertising
• Networking events
• Your website
• Trade shows
• Press releases
Revisit your tactics often, as new ideas arise and you’ll want add them to your marketing plan.
5. Budget – Ask yourself, how much money do you have to spend on marketing as a whole? Develop a monthly, quarterly and yearly schedule of what you plan to spend on marketing. Budget your money with the most going towards information conducted from your research. For example, if your target market is a younger generation, you’ll most likely want to spend a larger percentage of your budget on social media advertising.
6. Metrics – A good marketing plan is part of a process that involves setting goals, measuring results and tracking performance. You will need to evaluate your progress and be able to quickly identify what is working and what isn’t.