How to Write a Marketing Plan - 5 Great Tips for Success!
If you have not previously developed a marketing plan, the task ahead can seem enormous. You first have to understand the way your enterprise works and, of even greater importance, what the needs of your customers are. But there’s no need to worry – WritingLeader.com has you covered. The following guide sets out the five steps to creating an effective marketing plan:
Analyze your current situation.
A lot of businesses choose the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) method for analysis purposes. This method helps to a) identify a company’s competitors b) understand how each competitor’s business operates and c) understand their strong and weak points.
A business’s strengths can be defined as any skill, proficiency, expertise, talent, competitive advantage or another element that enhances its market position and is not easy to copy. Some examples are low turnover of staff, high levels of customer retention, low operation or production costs because of good technology decisions, and/or an effective sales team.
A business’s weaknesses can be defined as any elements that negatively impact its ability to independently meet its goals or objectives. Some examples of this are ineffective marketing strategies, out-of-date production equipment, poor planning, unreliable order delivery, etc.
A business’s opportunities can be defined as ways for it to grow and increase its profits. Some examples of opportunities are effective management of technology changes, being able to meet new market trends, the ability to penetrate new markets, etc. Here, you should look at how the key skills within your business could be used to exploit potential opportunities.
The threats to a business can be defined as any barrier or obstacle that prevents entry to their main markets e.g. legislative obstacles, shortage of labor, or any developments that are politically or economically detrimental.
Create a profile of your target market. This can be divided into the following:
- A demographic overview. Show here how well you know and understand your customer base, including your customer’s whims and expectations. This snapshot should produce a clear picture of your customers. Age, gender, location, career or profession, educational level, and income bracket are some of the characteristics you should look at here.
- Demand estimation. Use research to estimate what the demand for your business’s products or services is and what growth you expect in demand. This demonstrates to financial establishments that your enterprise has potential for growth.
- Buyer motivation. Another important factor is a precise understanding of what makes customers buy. Do your customers, for example, want ways to save, ways to make their lives easier, or do they shop for enjoyment? Do you know why customers would purchase your particular products or services? Ask this question of yourself. Likewise, perhaps, try to understand what prevents customers from buying the same products or services from your rivals. Are their prices too high? Are they lacking some uniqueness you have? Insights like this will enable you to develop and offer products and/or services that surpass your competition.
Set marketing goals that are clear. Describe the outcome you want in your marketing plan. Set realistic and achievable targets and objectives with clear timeframes.
The use of metrics is the most usual way to set and measure objectives. For instance, your objectives might be:
- Total share of market and/or segments.
- Total customer numbers and rates of retention.
- Market penetration rate i.e. percentage of people who buy.
- Average volume or size of products/services sold.
Decide the strategy you will use for marketing. Once your targets and objectives are decided, consider the best ways to market your enterprise. Marketing has four “Ps” that typically make up the strategies in a marketing plan as follows:
The marketing method you choose will be determined by your target market’s profile. Therefore, it is important you understand how different methods are perceived by different target audiences. Advertising need not always cost a lot. For instance, businesses with a niche target audience can use email and other inexpensive marketing methods.
Advertising, public relations (PR) campaigns and sales promotions usually cost the most. Networking and referrals are a less expensive way to get your message to customers. Another powerful, effective and inexpensive marketing method is the digital variety for reaching desired markets.
Develop a financial plan. Any general, business or marketing plan that lacks financials is of little use.
You will need to provide a relatively simple sales and budget forecast. Indeed, this is better when it is kept simple. Begin with these questions:
- What volume of sales do you anticipate making?
- How much will you charge?
- How much will you spend on producing/developing your company’s products or delivering its services?
- How much will it cost at a minimum to operate your business? Include salaries and hiring costs in this.
- Will your enterprise need financing to operate and, if so, how much?
The answers to the above questions should help you understand your business’s income and expenditure.
Another crucial step in creating a marketing plan is a break-even analysis. This will show precisely the volume of sales you will need to cover running costs. Exceeding your business’s break-even figure and easily surpassing the sales income you need to meet expenses will position your business well to make a profit.
After completing this critical step, you may need expert assistance to bring together a well-developed and strategically sound marketing plan. The team at WritingLeader.com is well placed to assist you in creating a fully customized plan to meet the needs of your business.