What is a marketing plan and why your business should have one?
A ‘marketing plan’ is a turn of phrase almost everyone in the creative industry is bound to have heard of. However, despite its common and self-explanatory name, many smaller businesses don’t place enough importance on marketing to familiarise themselves with the nature or benefit of a marketing plan.
The fact of the matter is, a business can only survive through establishing a customer base. But, if a business does not plan out how they can most effectively attract and retain customers, they are severely stunting if not killing their company’s chance of business success. So, what exactly is a marketing plan and, more importantly, why should a business (of every size) have one?
What is a marketing plan?
A marketing plan is a report that outlines the most important goals your business aims to attain and, through what steps. More specifically, it is an operational document that outlines, in detail, how chosen strategies will be implemented to create market leads and reach target audiences. Within this, most marketing plans should also include a temporal element that outlines the important deadlines that should be met for your company to reach the marketing plan’s goals.
Elements of a marketing plan
A marketing plan is tailored to each company based on general background and market research. This is to ensure a business can meet its own unique goals in the best way for them. However, there are re-occurring and common elements that are integrated into a plan to ensure it is an efficient and worthwhile investment.
Typically, your marketing plan should include:
- An overview of your business marketing and advertising goals
- A description of your business current marketing position
- A description of your current or a prospective target audience or audiences
- A selection of campaign tools, including platforms (general and specific like the Internet and Facebook social media)
- A timeline detailing when tasks within your strategies will be completed
- Key performance indicators for tracking the performance of your marketing efforts and,
- Metrics for measuring the results of your marketing efforts for feedback
How having a marketing plan helps you as a business owner
As a business owner by simply developing a market plan, you will be able to reflect and refine what your business is about and how it is unique from your competitors. Thinking about your business and marketing goals in this broader way is key to staying competitive. Just by planning your marketing strategies prospectively, you will be able to think realistically and practically about how you should spend time on each task and stay organised in your business activities.
By having pre-planned efforts and methods of their execution your marketing plan will act as a point of reference that will help guide your business in maintaining the appropriate amount of focus on things necessary to reach your goals. As mentioned, a marketing plan is and should be adjusted to suit each individual business and their goals. Besides the fact that tailoring a plan like this ensures a company can get its best return on investment, a marketing plan can provide feedback based on findings of how successfully strategies perform. This means a marketing plan can also be used and adjusted on an ongoing basis so a business can use it as a tool for future improvement on how it should execute and co-ordinate its efforts.
Overall thinking about your business marketing goals and the best methods of executing those goals will pay off. You just have to learn how.