Writing a Successful Marketing Plan

The key to any successful business is to have a business plan. Without a plan how do you know where you are going and what your goals are? The same can be said about a marketing plan. A good marketing plan will detail how you obtain clients and retain clients after the sale. The difference between a business plan and a marketing plan is a business plan is what you do and a marketing plan is how you get to do what it is that you do. If you don’t have a plan to obtain and retain clients how do you know where your sales are coming from? Here are a few tips to create a good marketing plan:

1. You must know your target market

Are you in the business to serve “everyone?” If you are, you may not be as successful as you would like to be. If you are constantly a catch-all for every type of consumer you will find yourself exhausted at the end of the day catering to every need of every consumer. Instead work smarter instead of harder. Take one or two target markets in your industry and focus on catering to their needs. Become an expert in that area and you will never have to wonder where the next sale is coming from.

2. You must know how you are going to reach your target market

Does your target market read the newspaper? Is there an industry publication that they subscribe to on a regular basis? Would direct mail help to get your name in front of your prospects? By doing some basic research on your target market’s buying habits and their needs you should be able to create an effective marketing campaign that will get your phone ringing in no time!

3. You must have a follow up plan after the sale closes

After the sale closes do you send out a Thank You card and hope the client will remember you enough to not only work with you, but also refer you to their friends and family? Business and profits are lost when you hope someone remembers you enough to work with you again. If you do not have a plan to consistently stay in front of your clients on a monthly basis you will be losing out on potential future business. Doing a good job for a client is expected, but don’t expect them to remember your phone number because of it. Stay in touch with your past clients; they are your greatest source of future profits.

4. You must implement the plan on a consistent basis

People want to hear from you, but they do not want to hear from you only when you have something to sell them. If you have done the work and are an expert in your target market cater your marketing to that group. Send them a newsletter of information that will be beneficial to them. Of course you can include that you are looking for their business, but don’t make that the sole purpose of every mailing. The key is to consistently implement a marketing plan that shows your clients you care about them after the sale. This helps continue the relationship long after the transaction is closed and it makes you referable.

5. You must measure your results monthly, quarterly and annually

Before you do any marketing determine what your goals are for your business and for your marketing efforts. Do you hope to receive 10 phone calls from a mailing with 1 new client from those phone calls? Then write it down and measure your results after you do a mailing. Ask clients and prospects when they call if they are calling because they recently received a marketing piece from you. Record this information and keep track of it on a regular basis. Set aside an hour every month and determine what is working and what isn’t working. Reevaluate your marketing records every quarter and every year to determine what is working and what isn’t working. When you are making your annual marketing plan the marketing records will guide you in preparing and implementing next year’s plan. Sometimes it can seem like your marketing isn’t working at all but in reality you haven’t kept track of the results so you don’t know if it is working. This is a great opportunity to determine where to spend your hard earned marketing dollars and to keep repeating a marketing effort if it has worked for you in the past.

By taking the time to do it right and create a marketing plan you can follow you should never have to wonder where your next sale is coming from!

Copyright 2010 Automated Marketing, Inc.

Write Annual Marketing Plan in 90 Minutes

Ideally, marketing planning is like career or job planning. The development of the annual marketing strategy, whether it is for an internet/ecommerce business or offline business, should be done at the end of the year. It should be based on market research. This applies to small as well as corporate businesses and not for profit organizations.

How To Write An Annual Marketing Plan

This guide to an annual marketing plan shows what needs to be done, how to do it and pitfalls to look out for. This marketing plan should ideally support and complement business plan.

An annual marketing plan ideally should have the following elements (basics of marketing):

  • Mission statement
  • Description of your niche markets
  • Detailed description of your products or services
  • List of your closest competitors
  • Marketing goals
  • Marketing calendar with monthly and weekly list of marketing activities to be completed
  • Marketing mix – advertising, public relations, media, corporate communications, promotions, events etc
  • Description of how the marketing campaigns will be monitored and measured

When you have finished doing everything suggested in this easy How-To marketing tutorial, you will have a blueprint of your marketing efforts. It will give you a lot of clarity, especially when you are working in a team. Make sure you revisit the plan every year, as well as during the year.

Now, whether you are selling watches or digital products, it is important to watch your spend to make sure that your marketing ROI (return on investment) is on track.

But Why Should You Plan?

It gives you a lot of clarity of purpose

You can control your expenses

When you are working in a team, or with external agencies or suppliers, you everyone involved knows who-does-what

You can take corrective action if the marketing plan is not progressing as desired

Are You Ready To Begin?

Just answer the following questions, and you will have the blueprint of your marketing plan in less than 90 minutes:

  • Which of my marketing and selling activities brought the most business for me last year? Was it public relations, events and conferences, social media, print advertising, Google Adwords, SEO marketing and so on
  • What mistakes did I make that I should avoid this year?
  • What worked well, but I can improve on this year?
  • What can I learn from my successful campaigns last year?
  • What can I learn from my campaign that did not perform well last year?
  • What is my target market like this year? Which factors of my market changed – geography, demography, income, habits, culture etc.
  • Has my competition changed? How?
  • If my target market or competition has changed, what do I need to do to adopt to that change?
  • Now that I know my target market, and I know what worked last year, which marketing channels will I use this year?
  • How much am I willing to spend this year? What’s my marketing budget? How do i intend to spend it?
  • How will I monitor my campaign?

Marketing Calendar

Now that we have an overview, break this strategy down into monthly marketing plan. Chart out monthly and if required weekly activities.

Identify key events that are likely to influence your marketing calendar. Is there an industry event or international trade show coming up? Are there local elections? Is there a major sporting event?

Make sure you are realistic in your marketing strategies and in your marketing plan. Try to spell out as many details as possible. Leave some scope for contingencies.

Now that you have the blue print, don’t forget the key point – action. Act on your plan, re-visit it often and change your course if required.

Your marketing plan is just that – a plan. Nothing is set in stone. If marketing environment changes be prepared to change.

How to Make a Marketing Plan

Marketing plans can vary in size and some of the largest companies on the planet will have plans that are quite detailed. There are no extremely right or wrong ways to make a marketing plan, as long as it is created in a professional manner.

Also the plan does not have to be completed in one sitting. Take as long as you need. Some companies might have taken months to make the appropriate marketing plan when they first got started. However, it does not really matter the length of time it takes to make it, but rather what are the essential components you would like to put inside of it.

When you are writing your company’s marketing plan, the plan should be allowed to cover at least until the next projected sales year. This will give your company time to evaluate how effective the plan was and make any changes for the upcoming year. Therefore, aim to have your marketing plan compiled and ready for the start of the new fiscal year. This way any issues that need to be changed, can be done right at the beginning. As you modify your plan, you can allow it to become more advanced by inserting a section that outlines where the company would like to be within the next three to five years. What this does is sets a goal that the company can work towards.

Keep in mind that it is essential to have it readily accessible to all of the key decision-makers of the company. This can mean having it bound or placing it within a folder. Once you have made your plan, it is essential to review it to see if the company is sticking to the key objectives that were listed and outlined within the plan. It will also be essential to use it to monitor how well the sale of the product is happening.

Keep in mind that writing a marketing plan is one of the key elements of your company’s future and should not be taken lightly. This is considered one of the areas of “advanced” marketing. Therefore, when compiling your strategy, also consider the challenges that your company can face if there is a sharp turn in the economy. This information should be clearly outlined, so that everyone knows what and how the solution is to be done.

It is vital to remember that a company should spend some time in producing a marketing plan. Some companies only produce a business plan, but fail to look at the relationship between marketing and the success of the business. Even though the marketing plan is just one area of the business plan, it should not be overlooked. This is the plan that you make that will be used to see the goals within your business plan come reality.

5 Steps: How to Create a Marketing Plan

The marketing plan is an integral part of the future success of any marketing department. Whether it is a large corporation or a small business just starting out, the marketing plan is a detailed analysis of: the internal components of the business, the external forces exerted on the business to understand the market in which it operates, and set goals that provide direction for future marketing incentives. Marketing plans are usually conceived to offer a specific strategy of how to introduce a new product, enter new markets or to fix a current problem. The following assertion discusses how to draft a five part marketing plan. The five parts include, but are not limited to:

  1. Purpose + Mission
  2. SWOT analysis
  3. Marketing strategy objectives
  4. Strategical marketing objectives
  5. Budget analysis + implementation

Purpose + Mission Statement- The purpose of the marketing plan, while seemingly somewhat self explanatory, should be a concise statement of why this plan was drafted and allude to how the information in the plan could, or should, be used. Mission- If a new business is creating a marketing plan a mission statement may not exist and thus need to be devised. The mission statement needs to be a specific and clearly worded paragraph that embodies a stable and lucent long-term vision of the organization. A good mission statement should be able to answer such questions as: What is the business’s creed, or standard for doing business? What services does it provide? Why is the company in business? It is a strict guideline of what the business stands for, and what the business offers to its customers.

SWOT Analysis- This section of the plan analyzes is great detail the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of, and to, the company. Strength- ex: Current Products (features, benefits, pricing, incentives) Weaknesses- ex: Current financial condition (could potentially be strength) Opportunities- ex: Target markets (mass market? Segmentation, demographics, psychographics, needs of market) Threats- ex: Competitors

Marketing Strategy and Objectives- This section is crucial to the development of the proposed services or products future. This part consists of: identifying the marketing strategy, financial objectives, and overall marketing objectives. This gives a specific direction the product will take and creates accountability in the plan so efforts and results can be measured in relation to these starting objectives.

Strategical Marketing Programs- This is typically the longest part of the plan and is deeply detailed in respect to the strategy to achieve the designated marketing objectives in part three. These programs include descriptions of: Product, Price, Promotion, and Place. Ex: Define current market, and the planned changes. Define how these changes will be accomplished, and explain why these changes must take place (use evidence of research or due to competitors).

Budget Analysis + Implementation- This final section scrutinizes the business’s financial ability to carry out its marketing plan. Defining the extent of the marketing budget will help determine the financial impact and capabilities of the projected plan. As a precursor to the actual implementation of the products or services a performance analysis presents the expected results of the plan. It is an educated estimate of the potential overall success of the plan and helps to prepare for the future. The last step in the marketing plan is to organize an implementation schedule that shows timelines and identifies those responsible for certain tasks. This keeps the marketing team involved and held responsible for timely work and effort.