Besides human resources and production, marketing is one of the biggest, most important areas a business should focus on. An effective marketing plan helps businesses understand its market and competition. It also projects the impacts and results of marketing decisions and therefore, provides direction for future initiatives.
What is a marketing plan?
A marketing plan is a document that outlines the marketing goals of a business in a defined period and the concrete actions with anticipated results. It is a roadmap to selling your product or service to potential customers, as well as maintaining brand loyalty.
The main goal of a marketing plan is to provide strategies to improve market share, enter new niche markets, and increase brand awareness. This would strengthen your customer base and loyalty, therefore contributing to the growth of your business.
The importance of market planning
Market planning is a systematic, disciplined, and forward-looking exercise that leads to marketing strategies. These strategies are the marketing logic that companies use as bases to achieve their business objectives.
Market planning will help your business avoid future uncertainties, manage and achieve objectives, maximize resources, and meet full customer satisfaction.
5 Steps to Build an Effective Marketing Plan
The good news is, developing a marketing plan is not as difficult as it may sound. You can begin with these five steps in developing an effective marketing plan.
Step 1: Situation analysis
Situation Analysis is the part of a plan that includes research and analysis of your target market, competitors, and business challenges. This section should contain the best and most clear situation of the current state of the marketplace.
You may use the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Threats, Opportunities) Analysis to help you determine the areas where to focus your marketing efforts. This should help you define your market opportunity, geographical focus, target audience, and competitors. It should highlight the key areas where the business needs to improve to be more competitive.
This section must be based on facts gathered from research. A good example is conducting a survey or interviews from an identified group of people (employees, peers, and customer contacts) and collecting their opinions and feedback. This should help determine the pulse of your target customers as to their needs and wants, or anything you want to discover from them and about the market.
Step 2: Identify potential customers
This is one of the most important aspects of marketing. Realistically, you cannot reach everyone, so you need to identify the group of people your marketing can influence. The target market is a group of customers or potential customers for whom your marketing is intended. This should help determine marketing strategies for a particular customer segment.
Identify the demographics of your target market and discover your business potentials with them. To do this, write a description of your target audiences, such as their age, sex, profession, level of income, educational level, residency, among other demographic information. As a guide, think of your target market as your most desirable customers.
Step 3. Set SMART goals
To define specific goals with marketing campaigns, you should use the SMART goal method. This method should seek to answer, “where do you want to get to?” SMART goal is a method to help set effective goals based on five factors:
- Specific – Be precise and exact about what you wanted to achieve. Detail the information sufficient for you to pinpoint opportunities and challenges ahead.
- Measurable – Make sure to include quantitative and qualitative indicators to create a metric. This is especially important in monitoring results and performance.
- Attainable – Your objective should be achievable. Something that is possible and real. While it can be difficult, it is something you know you can do and achieve. It should also aim to influence change in staff behavior and improve team performance.
- Relevant – Make sure that the goal is relevant to the objective of your business and to the real world application. It should be practical enough to be applied and relevant enough to make a big impact to your business and customers.
- Time-bound – Set a time frame for completion. You should be able to review your targets against your timeline. Remember, the measure of success is also dependent on the timing you determine.
Here’s an example of a SMART objective: “To make Y brand of sustainable clothing the preferred brand of 21-28 year old females in North America by August 2022.”
Step 4. Choose the right strategy
Now that you have already identified your marketing objectives, determine next the right strategy to follow through. Strategies are the approaches you want to take in order to achieve your goals. The strategy centers at the basic 4 P’s of marketing – Product, Price, Place and Promotion. The effective mix of these 4 P’s are determined by your target market.
For instance, you should pay attention to digital marketing strategies if you want to reach a wider market in a cost-effective way. Nowadays, social media has the widest reach and is the most affordable way to promote your business.
Step 5: Consider a reasonable marketing budget
The marketing budget outlines the projected expenditures for the marketing activities in the marketing plan. The marketing budget should include revenues and costs that will be aligned with the other sections of the plan. Meaning, the marketing budget should be the realistic financial reflection of your goals and actions.
This part should balance the expenditures on marketing versus what the business could afford. The effectiveness of the marketing plan is also dependent on the resources allocated to it. So budget your finances and other resources wisely.
Overall, you should scale your marketing plan based on the size of your business.
Essential Elements of a Marketing Plan
A marketing plan consists of the following important elements:
- Executive Summary: This section contains the summary of key points from the marketing plan and what it aims to accomplish. This will serve as an overview for a manager who may not have time to read through the whole document.
- Brief introduction of the business: This should answer “What business are you marketing?”. The introduction should contain the basic information about the business, its products or services, and the market it ventures into.
- Market segmentation and targeting: This explicitly defines the demographic profile of potential customers and targeted audience of the marketing initiatives. Market profile, market segments, and marketing strategies are the basic content of this section.
- Situation and company analysis: This is where you will elaborate on the SWOT analysis on your business. Identify key points on the internal situation of the business, as well as the external market environment.
- Marketing mix: This section should consist of your marketing strategies. It should answer, “How will you impact your target market?”. Break down your strategic approach in the key areas of: Product, Pricing, Place (distribution), Promotion (marketing campaigns), People (customers and audience), and Process (activities).
- Budget: List the resources needed to execute the plan, financial allocation and the projected revenue once the marketing objectives were accomplished.
- Action plan: A detailed, step-by-step plan of action to be taken, timeline, roles, and responsibilities in order to successfully execute the marketing plan.
A marketing plan is essential to every business. It is key to brand awareness, increased sales, and strong customer base. So invest in the growth of your company by creating an effective marketing plan.
With over a decade of solid experience, Marketin247 could help your business and organization grow and be the leader in your field. We can help in your marketing and build an effective marketing plan for your business. Contact us today!