It’s virtually impossible to effectively track, measure, and grow your business without establishing a blueprint for your marketing efforts. A marketing plan is your official guide that details your strategies for accomplishing short-term and long-term goals that ultimately produce a positive return on investment (ROI). Whether you create a marketing plan from a template or from scratch, it is crucial that you don’t attempt to market your business without a solid marketing plan. Here are five simple steps to create a marketing plan with a sound strategy and accurate forecasting.
Understand Your Goals
Goal setting is a crucial step that requires careful consideration because it affects every step that follows in your marketing plan. Establishing a clearly defined goal serves as your guiding light when it comes to making decisions. For every action you consider taking, ask yourself whether it moves you closer or further from accomplishing your ultimate objective.
List your goals in SMART format
Discuss your overarching goals with your team and when you come to a decision, list them in SMART format.
Goals should be:
An example of a SMART goal could be to increase the revenue of a specific product by 10% to a total of $100k within your first year of executing your marketing plan. Setting SMART goals makes clearer which steps, strategies, and tactics are required to achieve your goal.
Create benchmark performance goals
Once you set your goals, you can then break them down into key performance indicators to determine how to measure your progress. It’s essential to be aware of whether your project is on track for successful and timely completion. Your benchmark performance goals can be internal, external, or both depending on the steps required in your marketing plan.
2. Identify Market and Competition
No marketing plan is complete without a formal and thorough competitive analysis of the market you’re entering. A SWOT analysis identifies the significant factors to consider before diving into the market you’re considering:
- Strengths: Where does your company excel in your industry? What advantages do you have over the competition?
- Weaknesses: What are your liabilities? What areas does your company have definitive disadvantages in?
- Opportunities: Where are the biggest gains to be made? What can your company capitalize on that will prove to be profitable?
- Threats: What are the entry barriers (if any) to overcome? What will kill your productivity/profitability? What obstacles are to be expected?
A SWOT analysis forms the strategies and tactics that you’ll need to succeed in achieving goals because it aligns the current status of your competitive environment with a realistic assessment of how your company will adapt to those conditions.
3. Set Your Budget
The thought of adding to your monthly expenditures is enough to make any business owner cringe. However, when the money is going towards your marketing plan, it should be considered an investment. Every dollar you spend in marketing should bring back a return on your investment with the acquisition of new clients.
Put everything into perspective
The general rule of thumb is to spend at least 7% of your gross revenue on marketing. This number can vary depending on whether you’re just starting a business or if you’ve already established your brand with an engaged audience. Startup costs need to be factored into your projections since they won’t continue once you’ve passed that hump. Startup costs include designing your logo, website design, and any costs that are one-time expenditures.
List ongoing expenses
Most marketing plans include a higher rate of spending at the start of a campaign to get it up and running. Regardless of whether they occur at the front end of your campaign or not, list the operational expenses that you’ll encounter throughout the life of your marketing plan. When you know the unavoidable costs, it will give you a better idea of what to allot to your marketing budget.
4. Research Marketing Tactics
Your marketing strategy is more or less determined by the goals you’ve established. A marketing strategy is an activity that moves you closer to achieving your goals. In contrast, a marketing tactic is the action or details within the strategy of making it happen.
For example, if your goal is to build awareness of your brand, your strategy could be executing a social media marketing campaign to acquire 100k followers in six months. The tactics used could be case studies, infographics, or a highly engaging video series.
Spy on your competition
Once you have decided on your strategy, research the tactics that you can use to make your marketing plan as successful as possible. There’s nothing wrong with analyzing what the competition in your industry is doing to get good results within their social media campaigns. Take the best tactics from the best performers and make them your own. Many have stood on the shoulders of successful businesses to become even more successful. Want some examples? Here is a list of 35 different marketing tactics you can use for inspiration.
Know your target market
One of the key components of a successful marketing campaign is the ability to relate to your audience on a deeper level. The average person is bombarded with approximately 6-10k advertisements daily, which means that your messaging needs to be targeted in its tone, words, and offerings for you to stand out from the masses.
Create a buyer persona
What better way to attract more of your ideal customer than to create marketing campaigns that speak directly to their needs? Creating a buyer persona to represent the different types of clients your business attracts allows you to narrow your audience by listing specific attributes that can affect the way you market your product.
For example, if you’re marketing engineering software to companies, the company’s vice president may be more interested in the long-term cost savings you’re offering. In contrast, the actual engineers want to hear more details about the features of your product. These are two different buyer personas that your company may come across, and each requires a different approach to selling your product.
5. Plan Your Success Story
Most success stories start with a plan. By establishing the goals you have for your business, you can merge the strategies and tactics that will move you closer to realizing those goals. Use these five steps to create your next marketing plan that will ultimately lead to increased revenue and success within your industry.