A marketing plan is a blue print document for a business which is developed to plan and implement the marketing activity necessary to achieve the goals set out for the business. For most small and medium sized businesses this will mean a marketing plan which is developed to achieve the sales and profit targets set for the business. A good marketing plan will target available resources in the most efficient and planned manner and enable the business to achieve its objectives. There are a number of stages to developing an effective marketing plan.
1. Define the business itself – What is the business in terms of size, location, sales channels, etc. What does the business do, what are the unique sales points or main sales points of the business or its services and products.
2. Define the objectives – What are the objectives for the business, these may include increasing sales from existing customers, winning new customers, increased profitability, launching new products or services, moving into new geographical areas, opening up new markets, raising awareness of the business or brand, developing new distribution channels. Most likely it will be a combination of several of these objectives.
3. Identify the target market – The marketing plan should identify the types of customers or clients that the products or services will be sold to. Factors to consider for B2C businesses will be social group A, B C1, C2, D & E. Geographical location, age group, gender, interest group, etc. For B2B businesses factors will include business sector, size, geographical location, job title, turnover, etc.
4. Timescale – It is most productive in developing a marketing plan to break down the achievement of the objectives by timescale. Set out what needs to be achieved in the short, medium and long term. In the short term it may be best to focus on achieving a level of sales which can at least support the business outgoings, longer term objectives would include achieving high levels of awareness in the target market and a reputation for excellence in your field.
5. Marketing Tactics – Once points 1 to 4 have been decided the next stage in the marketing plan is to decide which marketing tactics need to be employed to best achieve the objectives that have been identified for the short, medium and long term. The marketing tactics employed could include advertising, direct marketing, graphic design (logo, brochures, leaflets, point of sale), online marketing, search engine optimisation, public relations, sales promotion and channel marketing. The factors which decide which marketing tactics will be most effective include available budget, the nature of the target market, the main sales points of the business and its services and products, competitor activity, market conditions and availability of suitable media.
6. Media Selection – Once marketing tactics have been decided the next stage of the marketing plan is to select the most appropriate media. There are a whole host of available media channels whatever marketing tactics are employed. For example, for direct marketing there are a multitude of list brokers offering many options for suitable lists – so contact at least 4-5, the internet is now an excellent means of sourcing professional marketing help, consider which options are best for your business. For advertising you can select from media such as national, regional and local newspapers, magazines, newsletters, radio, posters, banners and even TV. The selection will depend entirely on your target market and budget – make your budget work as hard as you can.
7. Creative Message – This aspect of the marketing plan will be developed directly from the unique sales point and major sales points that were identified earlier. The creative message may include a strapline that encapsulates the key sales point for the product or service. The creative message must be consistent across all media and have impact and standout. For the implementation of this aspect of the marketing plan it is advisable to seek the services of a professional marketing agency – again this can be sourced via the internet.
In summary, your marketing plan is key to the success of your business, it is a blueprint for the long term development of the business sales. It is important that your marketing plan centres around achieving sales and profitability, return on investment is key to good marketing. It is best to get professional help when developing your marketing plan – use the internet to source that help.