Down and Dirty – Creating a Marketing Plan That Works

Wouldn’t it be great if you could follow the Field of Dreams approach to business? What do I mean by that? I mean simply open the doors of your business, then sit back and wait for the people to come. Unfortunately, it’s not a very realistic approach to doing business for most entrepreneurs. What is realistic is putting together a detailed plan for promoting your business, and that approach takes the form of a marketing plan.

Many people cringe at the idea of creating a marketing plan because they have never done one before. Luckily, marketing is not rocket science. True, it is a skill, but it can be mastered over time. That’s good news for anyone who worries about putting together the right marketing plan for their business. Follow these easy steps and you can get started on creating a successful marketing plan in no time at all.

Research Your Market

This is an extremely important part of your marketing plan. Chances are you have already completed a lot of market research beforehand from when you created your initial business plan. Therefore, it should not take much to identify your market segments and what will make your products and/or services stand out from the competition.

Pulling It All Together

The research on your market is just one important piece you need. Other information that will prove helpful in writing your marketing plan includes:

  • Latest financial reports (operating budget, profit and loss statements, etc.) for the current and past three years, if available.
  • A list of all products and/or services you offer, along with the target market for each.
  • Your understanding of the marketplace, i.e. competitors, types of customers you sell to, latest and most relevant demographic data and any information on trends in your markets.
  • Input from sales staff as to what the most important points, in their opinion, that should be included in the plan.

Plan Draft – Define

  • Market Situation – The market situation will contain your best description of the current state of the marketplace. There is no room for guessing here. You need to know how big your potential market is, who you are going to sell to, and just what your potential customer is (demographics, income level, etc.). A lot of this information is probably in your head, but you’ve never committed it to paper. Now is your chance.
  • Threats & Opportunities – This is a continuation of the market situation, as it focuses on the good and bad aspects of the current market. List out what threats and opportunities you see facing your business in the next year. Ask yourself, what trends in the market are working for and against you? Are there competitive trends working in your favor or against you? Do the market demographics favor you or are they against you?
  • Marketing Objectives – Here you begin to “paint a picture” of what you see for the future of your business. You want to define what marketing objectives you want to achieve over the coming year (marketing plans are generally one year in length). Each objective should include a narrative description of how you intend to accomplish it, along with concrete numbers. Remember to make your objectives simple, concrete, countable, ambitious, but definitely achievable.
  • Implementation – Each objective defined above should have several goals and tactics for achieving each, i.e. the “what” and the “why” of the marketing tasks ahead. In this section, focus on the practical side of each objective: the who, where, when and how it’s going to happen. Create an activity matrix (timeline) so you can plot out when each action needs to be taken.
  • Budget – Each planned activity needs to be assigned a dollar amount in a budget. If you are new to calculating a cost of something, give your best estimate and add 25% to be safe. Be sure to consider both internal costs, such as staffing, and external out-of-pocket expenses when creating your marketing budget.

Finally, regular review of your marketing plan is important. At a minimum, you should be reviewing quarterly, and more ideally, you should be reviewing monthly. Your marketing plan is a work-in-progress so expect it to be adjusted often depending on the results you achieve. To be truly successful, a marketing plan takes time to create and implement, but the effort and time will definitely be worth it.

The Critical Elements of a Marketing Plan

A marketing plan is a critical element for communicating and discussing the expectations and responsibilities of all the key decision makers of a company. This is especially true for someone who is head of marketing or responsible for the firm’s marketing strategy. The plan should be written down so that everyone is able to look at and examine it. This is a key area of communicating how the marketing plan will affect the company in terms of its growth and focus on selling the product.

The elements of a plan will vary but should have some critical elements. More than anything the plan should answer the simple questions such as: What? Who? When? and Where? This might seem too simplistic, but when crafting your marketing plan, these are the main questions that should be consider that are the critical elements to be included in it. For example, a marketing plan for a airline company should list the products to be sold, who will be responsible for areas of the marketing strategy, and what type of people should the marketing strategy focus on.

When you get started, keep in mind that a plan is produced on a yearly basis. It will appear different in regards to when it is produced, what it does contain, and the overall components of it. Regardless, of how different it looks, the critical elements should not be overlooked. These critical elements include the an overview of the current situation and what are the expectations of the future, the market and what issues can affect the product, and the strategy that the company is currently following or hoping to adopt in the future. So regardless of how a company breaks these down or outlines these elements, they should be included in the plan.

The Overview

First of all, the overview. The person in charge of marketing should spend some time writing as much as possible about the current company and product overview. It can discuss what the issues for the coming year might be and what challenges the company faced previously while trying to get or hold onto its share of the market. This is a critical area, because it gives the general information, but it is also a summary of what the rest of the market plan is going to discuss. A manager should be able to read this area and get the complete gist of the market plan without any problems.

The Current Market and Promotion Strategy

These two topics are critical to the marketing plan. The analysis written here can show how the market has been in the past and what is expected in the future. The head of marketing should spend a considerable amount of time discussing the competitors and how they affected and will affect sales. However, the largest emphasis should be what the company is hoping to do to promote the product that it currently has. This should mean discussing detail the packaging, branding, and shipping of the product. This is key to have a worthwhile marketing plan.

How to Make Use of a Marketing Plan For An Online Business

The one thing that will separate you from the 90% of other network marketers is the discipline of following a weekly marketing plan for online business. Once you have a plan in place, there is nowhere to go – but up.

This plan is just a list of task that you follow on a daily basis. It may seem tedious at first, however, once you get the hang of it, you can quickly complete your daily tasks. Now you will have more time to work on other aspects of your business.

Developing a systematic method of conducting your business will help you stay focused. You can, also, draw upon your plan to measure your success.

J.O.B. Provides Plan

In a J.O.B., you are given a plan (list of tasks) by your supervisor. This plan has been tested time and time again. I am sure it had to go through several changes before ensuring that the tasks can be duplicated.

Your J.O.B. is to perform these same tasks on a daily basis. Any successful business rely on a marketing plan.

Your business is no different. You must rely on a working plan in order to map your way to success.

Your Business and Marketing Plan

This is your business and you must start to think of how to develop a realistic plan. With all the information and ways to market on the internet, I understand putting a marketing plan together can be overwhelming.

Just remember that your plan does not have to be perfect the first time around. That is why it is called a PLAN, an on going thought process.

Start out slow, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Begin with just one marketing method until you become a master of that method. I suggest you start with Social Media. To help you get going on your marketing plan, I designed a Weekly marketing Plan form. (A copy can be downloaded from the site referenced in the resource box.)

As you develop your skills, you can expand your marketing plan.

How to Utilize A Marketing Plan for Online Business

An example on how to utilize this plan. On the form provided:

1. Decide how many times you want to perform a particular task.

2. Place this number under Goal.

3. End of the week, add up how many times you completed that particular task.

4. Place this number under Achieved.

5. Subtract the two numbers to get your Net.

For example, if you have a goal of 5 and achieve of 4, in this example, you did not meet your goal. However, do not get discouraged. You always have time to correct your actions.

Now, let us take a look at the next week’s plan. Go ahead and reset your goals and try again. After subtracting Goal from Achieved, let’s say you worked hard and produced a Net of +2. This time you exceeded your goal for that week. GOOD FOR YOU!

Your Measure of Success

Save copies of each your weekly plans. Occasionally, take them out and compare.

Keep persistent in your daily activities and you will see improvement – Revealing your Measure of Success. You do not need to earn a lot of money in order to say that you are succeeding.

Start making out your marketing plan today. The sooner you start disciplining your actions, the quicker you will see the results you seek.

Marketing Plan For Small Businesses

Everything in business is done better when there is a plan; well that most definitely includes marketing. For a small business there are many different ideas that need to be included. It is best to refer to it monthly, and make sure you mark the sales/manufacturing so you can track how you are doing with the plan every month. For small businesses, the marketing plan should cover one year because the business is constantly changing whether it is the economy, customers, or employees. Most of your plan should concentrate on the current year and what you want to accomplish, but you should also include some goals for the next two to four years also. The planning part may be the hardest part of marketing, but when executing the plan has its difficulties, the planning will help when the marketing plan is precise and easy to follow.

Everyone in the company needs to see the marketing plan so you can receive feedback. This is crucial because in order to put the marketing plan into action you need all the departments of your business involved. You can ask ‘What’s achievable?’, ‘How will our goals be reached?’, and ‘Any potential marketing opportunities?’ Thus, it will create a better, more well-rounded plan. It is also important to include everyone in the marketing plan because it really rallies the company, makes everyone feel involved. You want to make your employees to be committed to the company so it is crucial to include them on the vision of the company in the next few years.

Your marketing plan needs to follow the vision of your company from your business plan. They need to be consistent not only financially but the dos and don’ts of the company as well. Have you ever thought to just go without a marketing plan? And just go with the flow of the company? Well then you and your company are doomed, you will just be aimlessly trying to market your company.

Here is a simple guide to your marketing plan and what you need to include:

Target market: including demographics, age, sex, ethnic groups, location
Niche Trends: how your industry is doing in your niche
Goals: everything you want to accomplish that year, or the next couple years to come
How to accomplish: the strategies on how you are going to achieve these goals financially and technically
Budget: how this all fits into your budget
Competitors: you always need to keep your competitors in mind but it is easier to lower it down to 2 to 3 top competitors and how you are going to beat them
Monthly Strategies: the tactics you are going to use every month to reach those goals you have presented.

All in all, a marketing plan is simply goals and how you are going to reach them. You can find more marketing strategies and solutions at NLprofits.com. Check out video tutorials and blogs with timeless information!