Why you need a Marketing Plan
Starting a new business requires developing an array of plans and projections, and one of the most resisted tasks is often writing a Marketing Plan. Many people feel that a Marketing Plan is too speculative, and of less importance than, for example, a Business Plan.
Perhaps the most common objection to developing a thorough Marketing Plan is that your strategies will fluctuate, especially in relation to technology. But the “it will only change as we go along” excuse is focusing on the wrong objective. The most basic value of a marketing plan is simply that it forces you to sit down and consider your company’s goals and how you will achieve them. You may have decided your general mission, but when it comes to marketing, the devil’s in the details. You will also have the chance to hash out abstract ideas that may otherwise conflict with future business objectives. Your strategies will inevitably change, but a good Marketing Plan will account for these fluctuations.
How to Prepare
Who: Before you begin your marketing plan, basic positions in the company should be assigned. Decide who will be covering which aspects of business, and what his or her authority is.
When: Try to nail down a date for completing your first draft. There will be versions and variations of the Marketing Plan after this point, but it will be easier to flesh out the plan once the foundation has been laid.
How Much: Evaluate exactly what your budget is before you start composing a marketing plan; this will define a lot of what you are capable of achieving.
Research: Conduct as much research and analysis of your market as you can, utilizing free government, business resource and media resources, and even speaking with other professionals in the field.
Writing the Plan
So it’s time to decide your company’s mission and how it’s going to achieve it. Where do you begin? Many business experts strongly encourage beginning with an S.W.O.T. analysis of your business potential: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Assess what will make your service unique, what niche market(s) you can serve, and how you will distinguish yourself from the competition. Keeping your SWOT analysis in mind, the following elements are all fundamental in most marketing plans:
- Ideal Customer: Who are you targeting? If the competition already serves your target market, how will you focus on an underserved or unique segment?
- Brand and Vision: What image and culture will your business embody, and what is your company’s mission?
- Lead Generation Strategy: Focus on how to generate consumer interest.
- Lead Conversion Plan: Devise multiple strategies for turning lead gens into customers.
- Customer Retention: How will you maintain users in the short and long term?
- Web and Technology: Plan for your website, mobile technology and online revenue streams.
- Marketing Budget: In the Preparation stage you gauged how much you can spend on marketing, now evaluate and prioritize what amounts are delegated to different tasks.
- Marketing Calendar: Block out time for certain projects and initiatives, set deadlines for conclusions and evaluations.
- Revenue and Profit Projections: What are your strategies for accruing revenue, and realistic projections of profit growth?
- Room for Adjustment: Plan for perennial measurement and adjustment of your plan, including specific and overall tactics. Leave room in your plan for flexibility, and decide when and how you will measure and adjust your marketing strategies.
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