As a business owner, you know that without one thing, you’ll definitely fail. That one thing is sales. If no one buys your product or service, there is no business.
That’s why it’s essential to have a proper marketing plan along with your overall business plan. Your marketing plan describes your ideal market and how you plan to connect with them. But what, exactly, should be in your marketing plan?
Let’s take a look.
Why a Marketing Plan is Important
Why is a marketing plan important? A marketing plan tells you exactly how you plan to connect with your market to sell your products and services. This plan is vital not only for your internal operations but also for outside stakeholders like investors or potential buyers.
Whether you’re connecting with investors or bankers, the group giving you money will want to ensure that you have researched the market and have a clear plan for growing your company profitably and successfully. If you’re selling your company, the buyer will want to know the niche the company serves and whether there’s a strong opportunity for growth.
Internally, you need to create your marketing plan so that you can divide your growth into steps and hold your employees accountable for reaching them. The plan will let your team know exactly where your business is now, who you’re targeting, and the message you’ll use to reach them.
Obviously, your marketing plan is one of the most important documents you’ll create — and take action on — for your business. But what should it contain?
1. Market Research
What does the market you’re in look like? This research will help you understand your industry, the strength of demand, and what trends are currently affecting the marketplace. You’ll want to understand the demographics of customers that exist in your market, what products are available from both you and your competitors, and what suppliers are available to support you.
This market research lays the foundation for your marketing plan and helps ensure your marketing objectives are based on the reality of the market, not assumptions.
2. Target Market
Now that you know the general types of customers in the market, it’s time to decide who, specifically, your business will target. Generally, you don’t try to cater to every possible customer, but rather a niche within that market that’s most ideal for your business.
When you know who your ideal customers are, you’ll be able to craft a plan to meet them where they spend time and target your messaging to their unique needs. That’s what makes marketing effective!
3. Product or Service
Next, you describe exactly what you plan to offer your customers. Don’t just include technical details, although those are important too. Make sure you also talk about how your offerings meet the specific needs of your customers.
You should also describe other products or services that exist in the marketplace, and how those offerings don’t meet customer needs as well as yours. Describe why your ideal customer would benefit from using your product or service instead of those currently available.
In this section, your marketing plan should describe who your competitors are, how they’re doing, and why you’re different than they are. A strategic marketing process is based on a unique selling proposition, or USP. When you clearly understand your competitors, you will know how to make yourself stand out.
5. Your Mission and Values
Now that you have researched your competition, it’s time to set out who you really are. This might seem obvious to a leadership team, but remember that this document helps keep everyone in your organization on the same page. It also shares your unique story with investors or bankers who might put money into your company.
Share your company mission statement and values. Talk about why your company exists in an already crowded marketplace. The marketing planning process will be much easier when you know exactly who you are and how you’re different from competitors.
Your mission and values can help you differentiate your company. As Local SEO Search founder, John Vuong, says, “People don’t want to buy from just anyone. They want to connect with a company whose values resonate with them.”
6. Strategies For Marketing
This is where you get into the meat of your marketing plan. Marketing implementation depends on you having strategies that connect with your customers.
What are some strategies you might use? It’s essential to have a proper company website. The website should have content that describes your customers’ needs and talks about how you can help. A website contains a homepage, product pages, an About Us page, and a contact page.
Once you have a modern, engaging website, it’s time to ensure your ideal customers can find it. This involves search engine optimization (SEO). One of the biggest benefits of marketing this way is that ideal customers find your business right when they are looking for a solution to their problems. This inbound marketing results in more conversions and better sales than other methods.
Along with a website and SEO, you might consider:
- Print marketing through the mail
- Social media marketing
- Pay-per-click advertising
- Publicity and press releases
- Trade shows
Setting marketing goals in each of these areas will help you develop a comprehensive approach to marketing that will give you both short-term and long-term success.
7. Branding, Pricing, and Position
Marketing strategies for business are founded on a clear understanding of your market and competitors. Once you know your approach, you can decide how you’ll build your brand, what price point makes sense for your product or service, and how to position yourself in relation to competitors.
For example, do you want to be the low-cost provider? Do you want to be known for exceptional customer service? Do you want to amplify your brand by connecting with a charitable cause?
The answers to these questions will help you set action plans for marketing your company.
8. Budget For Marketing
Marketing is an ongoing investment in your business. Don’t see it as an expense that you should trim as much as possible. Instead, set a realistic budget that you can both maintain and expand on. That way, your marketing efforts will always be supported.
What are marketing objectives for if you can’t act on them for lack of budget? It’s vital to focus your funding on growing and expanding your business through marketing.
9. Set Marketing Goals
You’ve laid the foundation and set out the strategies you plan to use. Now it’s time to create the action plan. Setting measurable marketing goals for each quarter and year will give you a chance to move forward and hold your team accountable.
If you have investors, they will hold you accountable to the goals you set in this section to ensure they get a good return on their investment. That means these should be SMART goals that you know will move the needle.
10. Measure Results and Adjust Accordingly
As you take action, analyze your results to see how your strategies and action plans are doing. Maybe you’ll find that a specific avenue of outreach isn’t effective in attracting your target market. You can eliminate that strategy and try a new one.
Or, you could find that one of your action plans is doing incredibly well at fueling growth. Double down on that approach, and see if you can create more like it. Measuring and documenting your results is the fuel for your success.
Your Marketing Plan is Always Evolving
In this article, we’ve answered the question “What is a marketing plan and why is it important?” However, a marketing plan isn’t something you create once and put into a drawer. Instead, it’s an ongoing process and your plan should constantly evolve.
Is there a new competitor in the marketplace? Time for an update! Discover one of your marketing strategies was a bust? Remove it and replace it with another idea. When your marketing plan is always up-to-date, you’ll be ready for any opportunity.
At Local SEO Search, our goal is to help small and medium-sized businesses grow through effective digital marketing. As a business owner, you have enough to do without managing every detail of your SEO marketing. Let us take care of it so you can focus on what you do best — serving customers at a consistently high level.
Contact us today to find out what we can do for you!