Conducting business without using a structured marketing plan is like driving somewhere you’ve never been without help. You are going to get to your destination eventually, but you risk making both costly and time-consuming mistakes along your way. Here is a five-step marketing plan that you can use as an example when drawing up yours.
Marketing Plan Confidence
You need to start your business ventures with confidence, or it’s unlikely to create a solid marketing strategy that’s backed with research and thoughts. Your plan is going to show how you plan to attract your customers to your products, and how you plan on convincing them to buy. Additionally, contrary to popular belief, marketing plans aren’t a one-time effort. You need to update your plan accordingly as your business grows and your customers’ needs change.
In marketing, there is a term that’s called the SWOT analysis, and it’s used to look at strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Identifying each category in the SWOT analysis can help you to understand where you need to go.
- Strengths: Considered as any competitive advantage such as expertise, proficiency, skills, talent, or other factors that can improve your business’s stance in the marketplace.
- Weaknesses: The factors that lower your company’s chances of achieving its primary objectives. Examples include outdated tools, insufficient planning, unreliable delivery, poor marketing, and more.
- Opportunities: These are the ways for your company to grow into something more profitable. New opportunities include managing technical change, addressing consumer trends, seeking new markets, etc. You need to know your main skills before taking advantage of new opportunities.
- Threats: Threats can be barriers that keep your business from entering primary markets. Examples include legislative hurdles, political development, labor shortage, and more.
Developing a Market Profile
- Demographic Portraits: Here you need to show that you know your customers, and that includes understanding their expectations and whims. Your business profile needs some basic demographic portraits that profile your clients. Characteristics such as age, profession, sex, and career are all suitable demographics.
- Estimated Demand: Provide research that displays an estimated demand for your products or services, so that you can build confidence with financial institutions.
- Purchasing Motivation: Understanding what pushes your customers to buy is essential. You need to know if they are looking to save, or if they are shopping for pleasure. It’s equally as important to ask yourself what it is that your competitors are doing to drive more customers their way.
Setting Clear Objectives
This step enables you to describe the outcome that you want from your marketing plan by using realistic and attainable objectives. Many companies use marketing metrics to complete this step. Here is an example.
- Complete market segments and shares
- Total retention rates and the number of customers
- Proportion of potential purchasing marketing
- Average size of purchasing volume
Determining Marketing Strategy
Once you know your objectives and targets, you can look at how you’re going to promote your business to customers; strategies typically use the four Ps of marketing.
Creating a Financial Plan
Having a marketing plan without financials has very little clout—you can also use your financials in a general business plan. One relevant financial document that you need is a sales and budget forecast. It doesn’t need to be complicated, and you can include some of the below questions to help you.
- What are you going to charge?
- How much do you think you’re going to sell?
- What is the estimated cost of production and delivery?
- What are your necessary operating expenses?
- How much financing do you need to run your business?
Answering these questions honestly is going to assist you with determining projected income and expenses.
Now that you’ve taken the time to do your homework and you have everything in order, your next step is to seek out an expert that can help you with fully developing your plan. There are many advisory services out there that can aid you, but it’s suggested that you check to see if your financial institution’s business services department have one that they recommend.