Do you feel overwhelmed by the number of promotion strategies to choose from? Are you struggling to decide which social media platform to focus on to connect with your audience? Do you feel like you are spending a huge amount of time and energy promoting your business without any real results? Are you constantly launching and implementing new marketing actions without knowing whether or not they are actually effective? What you need is a marketing plan.
Ok…but what is a marketing plan?
According to Philip Kotler, a world-renowned marketing guru, a marketing plan is a document that outlines how your “organisation’s strategic objectives will be achieved through specific marketing strategies and tactics, with the customer as the starting point”.
Basically a marketing plan is a report that describes which marketing strategies you will focus on. It outlines how you will implement these strategies and how you will measure their effectiveness. It also acts as a framework that connects your marketing actions back to your overall business objectives.
A marketing plan is written for a specific period of time, e.g. for the coming year, quarter or month. It is not a static document. You don’t just write a marketing plan once and then set it aside and never look back. Instead, you need to review and update your marketing plan regularly. This will ensure that it stays up-to-date with new marketing trends and remains adapted to how your business is evolving.
I only run a small business, do I still need a marketing plan?
Yes! Any business, regardless of its size, can really benefit from investing resources into creating a good quality marketing plan.
In fact a well-thought-out plan will:
- Give you clarity on who your target customers are so you can craft a message that will resonate with them and generate results;
- Make you aware of who your competitors are and what their strengths and weaknesses are;
- Help you develop a strategy backed up by facts and research;
- Provide you with focus and direction in your day-to-day marketing activities;
- Ensure you prioritise marketing actions that will help you achieve your overall business objectives;
- Help you spend your marketing budget more efficiently;
- Help you understand the impact of each of your marketing actions so that you can make more informed decisions in the future.
Which elements should be included in the plan?
The exact format, structure and length of your marketing plan will vary depending on the types of products and services you are offering, depending on your objectives and depending on the size of your business.
But here are a few essential elements that should be included in any marketing plan:
- A situational analysis to give an overview of what your company’s current situation is (it’s difficult to plan for the future if you are not clear on where you stand right now). This will include the results of your competitive research and an analysis of your business’ strengths and weaknesses.
- An outline of your overall business objectives and a description of your marketing goals for the period of the plan. The marketing goals should be in line with your high-level strategic objectives and they should be as specific as possible. For each goal you should also identify key performance indicators and set a clear timeline.
- A description of your target customers including their goals, needs and wishes and the challenges they are facing.
- An overview of the marketing strategies you will use to reach your target audience and achieve your marketing goals.
- A description of the specific marketing tactics you will implement to execute the strategies you have selected.
- An action plan with a timeline that describes which tasks you will carry out on a day-to-day basis to support your strategy.
- The marketing budget and resources you will put in place to implement the plan.
- A description of how you will track the performance of each of your marketing tactics, the metrics you will use and how often you will measure your progress.