28 Aug The Fundamentals of Writing A Marketing Plan
From time immemorial, for an entrepreneur or a large corporation to say they’re in business, they need to be properly guided by a Marketing plan.
What is a business without a marketing plan anyway?
Either you’re a rookie in this adventure or a seasoned professional, it is essential for you as a marketer to have a plan. This is to make sure you’re doing your job efficiently and effectively.
Without further ado, a marketing plan must co-exist with an organisation, not only is it the lifeblood of the company, but it helps get everyone involved in the business to be on the same page.
One key advantage of a marketing plan is; it allows your business to be proactive in the generation of sales, help your messaging to stay aligned with your vision and mission of the business, it also makes it easy for you to evaluate new opportunities, and ensures that your marketing investment are giving you the highest return on investment.
Here are 5 critical elements you need to consider when writing your marketing plan;
- Understand Your Target Market/Audience
We cannot over emphasize how important this is, but it’s very important to identify your audience for the specific goal you have identified in your marketing plan.
Brooding on the criterial for your target audience? Your audience profile should include; the demographic information – such as age, gender, geographic location, purchasing power etc.
You might also consider the psychographic information and understand how to appeal to your audience’s values, as well as desires, and not forgetting – challenges. Such profile could be informed by the books or magazines your audience read, the websites they visit, TV shows they watch, or other lifestyle choices.
Once you put this step-in practice, you’re half way there. As this will help you understand your market’s decision-making process, where your audience seek information, and factors that influence their purchase behaviour.
- Determine Goals and Objectives
This is where you get to set the stage and define the direction your company is headed, before you can decide on the marketing activities that will take you there.
Your goals or objectives should look something like this:
- Approaching the market with a new marketing technique
- Enticing potential customers to switch from a competitor to your products or services
- Take action to increase the reach and sales of your products.
- Taking initiate to launch a new product/services that either meet the needs of your current customer base or help you penetrate the new market.
- Research and Analysis
In order for you to have a refined marketing plan in the current market landscape and measure how your company stands out from your competitors, you need to do some research.
This is the act of researching your direct competitors who provide similar solutions and serving the same target market. Proceed to analyse the following:
- Their product attributes
- Your competitors pricing
- What their marketing and promotion strategies are
- Their distribution channel as well as their method
- What are the products or services offered?
As a-matter-of-fact, most businesses make use of inbound marketing and content marketing. Ensure to survey the content landscape by listening on what your competitors are doing with email and social media marketing. This will help you have an insight into keywords and key phrases your customers are searching for, as well as the kind of content you competitors are ranked for. At the end of your research, you will learn how to carve out unique positioning and drive traffic to your website.
This has become an acronym that has become standard practice in essentially every marketing plan. SWOT stands for; Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats. This analysis gives you an insight as to how you can differentiate both your products or, services, and claim your unique positioning in the competitive marketplace.
- Know Your Customer Lifecycle
The buyer persona only tells an atom of the story. Therefore, to create copy and content that appeal to a specific audience, you will need to understand where they are positioned in the customer lifecycle.
There are a few ways you can achieve this, in order for you to understand the lifecycle stages. Take for example, by; Awareness, Selection, Comparison, and Decision. In your best interest, you can select a series of stages which best reflects how your ideal customer interacts with what your business offers, as this will help inform your planning and strategy.
After you must have created your buyer persona and defined your customer lifecycle, you can then proceed to merge this information in your content map.
The benefit if this is that, it will inform the type of content you create, the best practice marketing strategies to put in place, and the promotional channels to make use of.
- Measure Your Goals
How will you know your marketing plans are effective if you don’t measure your goals?
You won’t know if your plan is effective or not, or have the information that your plan, strategies and tactics needs to be improved upon.
It is essential that your marketing plan, needs to define the critical KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) used to track, in such a way that you can gauge its effectiveness as well as it’s ROI (Return on Investment.)
Some example of KPIs you can track are:
- Leads generated
- Sales growth
- The lifetime value of a customer
- Email Marketing Performance
- Cost of customer acquisition
- Website conversion rate
In conclusion, these 5 elements explained above will certainly change over time as your business evolves.
Bear in mind that, your marketing plan should be a living breathing document that you revisit regularly as a guide, as it will not only help you stay on track with your goals, but will also keep you updated with your market. Make sure you’re utilising the most effective tactics to promote your business.