A marketing plan is a document in which you outline how you are going to market your business.
It includes your marketing objectives, along with a clear strategy that defines how you plan to reach these objectives. Within this plan will be budgets, deadlines, and finer details regarding implementation, and this will ensure that everyone involved with the marketing strategy is aware of what is required.
What is a marketing plan?
As mentioned, your plan should outline tangible goals, normally set out over a specific time period. Forecasts, targets and elements of implementation should be clearly defined, as should things such as budget and time spent on achieving the goals you’ve set out. Your marketing plan may include a number of different strategies depending on whether you want to communicate with existing or new customers, for example.
Benefits of having a marketing plan
There are many benefits to having a marketing plan in place. It essentially plots the course to success, whether it’s to achieving short-term goals over the coming year, or longer-term success over three to five years. Other benefits include:
- Cohesion - Having a clear plan in place enables everyone to get on the same page. Everyone involved in executing the plan can understand their role within it, and what the marketing strategy aims to achieve, both of which can bolster productivity, enthusiasm, and engagement.
- Focus - When running a small business, it can be easy to find yourself juggling many things at one time, which can lead to a loss of focus and therefore productivity. By having clear goals in place and broken down into actionable steps, you can ensure that you are working in the most efficient way possible to reach them.
- Accountability - Without clear direction and targets, it can be easy for people to fail to meet deadlines and goals; having these set out in black and white means you are able to hold those responsible for meeting them to account.
What should be included in a marketing plan?
There are a number of things that should be addressed in your marketing plan, for example:
- Market Situation - This looks at how the current market in which you operate is performing. This section should look at your product or service offerings in comparison with what is available elsewhere, and include breakdowns of things like your target demographic, sales and distribution, and past performance. This should be as analytical as possible, with the contents based on fact.
- Opportunities - Within this section, you can look at how you wish to expand the business. It can include information about trends, gaps in the market, and other potential growth areas. There should also be goals and strategies outlined for capitalising on these opportunities.
- Challenges - Similarly, you should look at the difficulties or setbacks you could encounter when implementing these strategies – and be honest about them. This will help you to prepare a more realistic plan, and to adapt more readily should you actually encounter these challenges.
- Objectives - Importantly, your marketing plan should include tangible objectives that are based on the findings of the above three sections.
How to write a marketing plan
Once you have fleshed out the important points for inclusion, you need to put together your marketing plan.
There are a number of ways you may wish to do this:
- In-house - You may wish to sit down with your marketing personnel and company directors to write up your marketing plan yourselves. This allows you complete control over the presentation and details, and the ability to fine tune and revise until you are completely satisfied.
- Enlist a professional - Alternatively, you can submit rough notes to a professional business plan writer who will be able to polish and present your ideas in the best possible light. You could also bring in a professional business plan consultant to oversee the document and ensure it meets the mark.
- Use a marketing plan template - There are a number of pre-made templates that simply allow you to fill in sections with your own custom content, which can be a fast way of making sure you include all the relevant information laid out in an easy-to-read format.