5 Steps to Create a Marketing Plan
As small business advocates, we hate to be the bearers of bad news. But the statistics speak loud and clear, and the bottom line is that 90% of all start-ups fail. It’s bleak, but true. So why do so many entrepreneurs crash and burn? One of the biggest reasons is that they simply don’t back their ventures with a solid marketing plan. So how can you avoid becoming a statistic? It’s simple. Dive in with an ultra-buoyant marketing strategy to keep you afloat.
Step 1 – Carry out a ‘Situation Analysis’
The first step is to put together a snapshot of your business’s current situation. This is called a ‘situation analysis’ and is much simpler than it sounds. The analysis should include a definition of your company, as well as a description of its products or services. Highlight how you set yourself apart from your competitors, and what unique benefits you offer to customers. The report should be no longer than a page. Short and sweet is the name of the game, as it’ll help you simplify your strategy, and understand your company on the rawest possible level.
Step 2 – Pinpoint your target audience
There’s no business on the planet that appeals to everyone, which means you have to develop an in-depth understanding of your ideal customer profile. This should be no longer than a paragraph or two, and should spotlight things like age, sex, earnings, geographic location and lifestyle choices. Are your customers conservative or forward thinking? Thrifty or extravagant? Followers or trail blazers? Creating a blanket personality for your target audience is a critical part of launching a SME that fills a market gap, or steps up as a formidable competitor. Once you’ve narrowly defined your target audience you can use your profile to inspire all future marketing, media and PR campaigns.
Step 3 – Compile marketing goals
Now you’ve built the foundations of your business, it’s time to create a list of marketing goals. Set standards high, but ensure that goals are realistic and measurable. For example, do you want to make $10,000 in your first month of business? Perhaps you want to see a 20% increase in sales over every quarter? Whatever your goals, make them tangible by writing them down, and actively tracking your progress.
Step 4 – Communication strategies
This step is the beating heart of your marketing plan, and will see you execute strategies that bring your vision to life. Polished marketing plans should spotlight all stages of the sales cycle, from cold prospects to hot leads. Think about tactics like email newsletters, loyalty programs and customer appreciation events for existing customers, as well as ongoing advertisements that cater to your target audience as a whole. Social media should play a central role in your plan, with platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram serving as hugely powerful, 100% free marketing channels.
Step 5 – Set a budget
Finally, you’ll need to set your SME a marketing budget. Think about what percentage of gross sales you’ll dedicate to your annual marketing plan, and whether or not you’ll need to borrow cash to get your initial strategy off the ground. Remember, marketing is an investment so don’t stress too much about allocating a reasonable amount of cash to your budget.
Creating a marketing plan isn’t an overnight assignment, but with the right approach and an entrepreneurial attitude, you can piece together a strategy that’ll score you a spot in the top 10%.