If you want your business to gather pace rather than dust, it’s vital that any marketing plan you write is effective and easily implemented. Sounds like a no brainer, but the majority of plans – all written with the best intentions of course – end up wallowing in the bottom of filing cabinets or being used a year later as scrap paper.
A practical marketing plan can save your company from going backwards, and in the scenarios, we like to see, propel it into a whole new realm.
Here are some tips regarding the best way to go about preparing a plan that you’ll want to see through!
1. Jettison the Jargon
That means…nuke the big words and don’t use three sentences to say what you could in one.
2. Position Yourself Up Front
A positioning statement is where you state who you are and what you offer. It differentiates you from your competition and gives direction to your marketing and business efforts. State it at the beginning of your plan and use it as your anchor. Understand your points of difference and keep coming back to them to determine how you’ll tell the story.
3. Define Your Business and Marketing Objectives
To get the most out of your plan, it’s crucial that you clearly define your goals. Write down what you’re trying to achieve (short and long term) as a business. Be as specific as you can. That’s because your strategy and budget will be a whole lot different if say you’re trying to double your profit in six months, build engagement with current clients or grow sales by 15% in a new market.
Some things to think about:
- Customer retention: What percentage of your business comes from your current customer base?
- New business development: How many new customers – and of what type – do you need to attract to achieve the profit goal?
- Repeat business & cross-selling: is this happening and where can this be improved?
- Strategic Relationships: What beneficial partnerships/cooperative business relationships would be profitable to pursue?
- New markets/locations: Are there any completely new areas you want to enter and what are they looking for?
4. Look Outside Your Bubble
Once you’ve decided on your objectives, step outside your business for a moment and put your competitors under the microscope. What are they doing well, how do they market themselves, what gaps are they leaving? Then take a look at the wider market, factor in current economic and community sentiment and work back to see how it relates to your business. Finally, zero in on your target audience(s). It’s not enough to say a target audience is women, 25-35. You need to drill right down eg: single women, 25-35, white-collar, earning 60k+, working 40 hours+. Build a strong profile and identify their hot buttons, then you’ll be clear about what to say to turn them on!
5. Get To Work
Now the fun begins! You and/or your marketing team are ready to develop a no-nonsense tactical plan to deliver real results to your bottom line. This is where strategy and creative tactics meet budgets and implementation deadlines.
In writing the plan you’ll need to match the marketing tactics to your objectives and the target market. Decide what will give you the best result and the most value for your money in the available time. Options to consider include:
- direct mail
- social media
- online paid advertising
- media relations
- promotional offers
- communications material
- print, radio or TV advertising
- networking and speaking engagements
- cooperative marketing
- giveaways & competitions
- CRM (customer relationship management)
- outdoor signage (billboards/shop window/vehicles)
- displays & trade shows and sales kits
- websites, e-marketing and newsletters.
6. But is it working?
An important component of any marketing plan – yet often the one missing – is a decision about how to track each new lead coming into the business and where it came from. By implementing a rigorous tracking and reporting system you’ll be able to monitor the effectiveness of your marketing activities and identify where your marketing budget and resources should be allocated on an ongoing basis.
So, make your plan crisp, think creatively, insist on deadlines, check off each activity as you implement it and keep moving forward. Don’t let it sit in a dark corner of your bookcase gathering cobwebs… get help if you need it, but make it great and make it happen!