Studies show that companies with a marketing plan in place are more likely to be successful in their marketing efforts. One study showed that businesses that plan grow 30% faster. According to another study, 71% of fast-growing companies have plans. Those companies create budgets, set goals, and document marketing & sales strategies.
A solid marketing plan will help you generate leads, build awareness with your target audience, develop relationships with your customers, and ultimately boost profitability.
Your marketing plan also serves as a blueprint that can build energy, morale & accountability throughout the organization. It’s a strategic tool that helps to advance the value of your company whether or not the owner is at the center of it.
If you ever plan to sell your business, having solid & repeatable processes in place that demonstrate your business can attract qualified prospects, build loyal customers and run successfully regardless of who is in charge is an attractive selling point.
Potential buyers tend to view it as risky if the success of a business relies too much on the owner. A solid marketing plan not only drives business but can also substantiate business value!
Steps To Develop A Marketing Plan
Your marketing plan should be in alignment with your business plan. If you already have a business plan, you have done a lot of the upfront work needed to develop a marketing plan. Here are the basics that should be covered in your marketing plan:
- Situation analysis - Think of it as an assessment of the current situation. Include current sales figures, key products or services, who you sell to, what makes you unique or your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Your USP has a lot to do with perception. How is your brand currently perceived? How do you WISH to be perceived?
- A defined target market- This is a breakdown of the buyers most likely interested in your product or service. What are their needs and how does your product or service meet those needs? Include details on demographics, psychographics, etc. One effective tool is developing buyer personas for your ideal customers. This blog post lays out what a buyer persona is and how to develop them.
- SWOT Analysis - SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats. A firm understanding of your business's strengths, weaknesses, etc. as well as those of your competition, provide you with better direction for positioning your company and knowing which opportunities you are in a strong position to leverage. Check out this simple SWOT analysis sample.
- S.M.A.R.T. Goals - As you establish objectives for your marketing plan, use the S.M.A.R.T. acronym as a reminder that all objectives should Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. HubSpot offers a free template for setting S.M.A.R.T. goals.
- Supporting strategies and tactics - This is where a lot of your earlier work will come into play. Understanding your audience, knowing which opportunities you’re in the best position to take advantage of and which tools will be best for reaching your audience are all part of creating strategies that will help you reach your goals. It’s important to stay in tune with customer buying habits and marketing trends so that you have the insights necessary to put the right strategies in place. For example, according to Gartner, properly executed inbound marketing tactics are 10 times more effective for lead conversion compared to more traditional outbound methods. In addition to an abundance of evidence confirming the ROI (Return on Investment) of inbound marketing methodologies, it has been proven to be more cost-effective than traditional methods of marketing. What is inbound marketing?
- A marketing budget - The strategies and tactics supporting your objectives will typically have costs associated with them. The team executing your strategies should understand what is available to them budget-wise. Having a budget in place along with your S.M.A.R.T. objectives will also ensure that you have everything you need to determine the ROI for each effort.
- Your marketing plan should be a work in progress - As you monitor and analyze the results of your strategies, your plan should adjust accordingly. On a larger scale, keep track of your visions and as your business evolves, so should your plan.
There are lots of products & services to go around, but customers are a bit harder to come by. Developing a strong marketing plan requires research, time & commitment but will provide a focus for your entire organization.
By developing well-thought-out plans and implementing strategies like inbound marketing, you can build name recognition, brand equity & customer loyalty, which are intangible assets that add value to your business. A solid marketing plan also provides the guidance needed to build a system for continuing to generate leads and drive revenue with or without the owner at the helm.
Bill is the CEO and Founder of InTouch Marketing. Bill drives the vision and direction of InTouch except when England's playing in a soccer tournament, because everything stops!