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Marketing Plan: Your Survival Guide

Marketing Plan Your Survival Guide - laptop with ideas coming from it marketing plan in the centre

For any business, it’s important that you have a marketing plan to ensure that your business is on track, able to meet its goals and provide direction for future growth. Without having a marketing strategy, you run the risk of losing control, making it difficult to plan ahead.

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By having a successful marketing plan and strategy you can identify your core target market and make decisions on how you would go about attracting potential new customers and retaining existing customers through the marketing messages. Here are 5 steps to follow to create a successful marketing plan.

  1. Conduct a situation analysis
  2. Define your target audience
  3. Write SMART goals
  4. Analyse your tactics
  5. Set your budget

Conduct a situation analysis:

First, look at where you are as a business by conducting a SWOT analysis which looks at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Strengths and weaknesses are your internal factors, and opportunities and threats are your external factors that may be out of your control. Through a SWOT analysis, you will be able to see what parts of your business are performing well which may give you a competitive advantage and allow for growth, whilst also seeing what isn’t going as well for you, helping you to implement any changes.

Alongside a SWOT analysis, you should carry out a competitor analysis to see how you’re performing compared to your competitors and understand how the current marketing is performing. What sets your business apart from competitors? What are competitors doing that you aren’t?

Define your target audience:

If you don’t know your target audience, it makes it difficult to develop an effective marketing strategy. Identifying your target audience enables you to choose the most effective methods of marketing which can help keep marketing costs down, which is important, particularly for a start-up business. You could create ‘Buyer personas’ who are fictional representations of your ideal target audience, which makes it easier to create targeted content that meets the needs and wants of customers. If you haven’t already got a buyer persona, you may need to undertake some market research to identify demographic and psychological information.

Write SMART goals:

After defining your target audience, you should write SMART goals. Your goals should be: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based.

  • Specific: What do you want to achieve? Having a specifical goal in mind allows for more effective planning. If your goal is too broad, it’s harder to achieve. Think of it as breaking down bigger goals into smaller more specific steps.
  • Measurable: What are you trying to measure? Are you going to measure growth, the number of new customers, how are you going to measure performance? Through setting a measurable goal, you can make sure you’re tracking progress.
  • Achievable: Your goals should be realistic- if you’re a start-up it would be unrealistic to set a goal of making a billion pounds in a year. It’s better to make underestimations than to overestimate and set a realistic time frame of when you want to achieve your goals.
  • Relevant: Make sure your goals align with your values. Objectives should be relevant to the people responsible for achieving them.
  • Time-based: Set a time frame from within which you want to achieve your goals. By setting a time frame, it allows you to stay focused meaning you’re more likely to achieve your overall goals and objectives.

Analyse your tactics:

You’ve looked at where you are as business, using both internal and external factors, and you have some goals in mind that you want to achieve. Now you need to decide what tactics you’ll use to achieve your goals. It’s important to distinguish the difference between your strategies and tactics- your strategy is the bigger picture and how you go about achieving your goals, whereas your tactics delve into the detail of the strategy.

Set your budget:

Finally, before implementing your ideas you have to look at your budget to see if your ideas are viable. Marketing costs can quickly add up so it’s important that you’re realistic about how you will market your product or service. You may think you want to use traditional methods of marketing, but upon reflection and looking at your budget, you may realise it’s better to use social media as a marketing tool as it doesn’t cost anything to send a Tweet or post an image on Instagram. Setting a marketing budget will be different for every business as it depends upon levels of competition, target audience, your market position, and the industry you’re operating in.

You now have your 5 steps to create and implement a successful marketing plan. Although creating a marketing plan takes a long time, it will be worth it in the end to ensure that your business stays on track and has potential for growth. It will also help your team stay focused and provide a sense of direction.

Check out the link below for a free marketing plan template:

https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/marketing-plan-template-generator

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