The start of a new year brings good intentions, resolutions, and big goals. My resolutions have included things like read X number of books, tackle this race distance and learn to play the guitar. I have yet to check learning guitar off my list and it has been tormenting me for nearly a decade! I used to set the guitar in the corner of my bedroom in the hopes the sight of it would taunt me into compliance. Eventually, in full defeat, I gave the guitar to my oldest son, encouraging him, imploring him to take up the glorious instrument. As I reflect on why this one resolution has eluded me, I realize it is because I did not put a plan in place.
Your business success is no different. You need a plan you will commit to and follow. A plan sets you up for success by laying out expectations for the year. Developing a marketing plan requires you to step off the dance floor and move to the balcony to truly focus on the business, to look at the big picture, to envision the future and think about what steps will be needed to turn your vision into reality.
A Great Marketing Plan Includes These Components
1. Target Market
Who is your ideal customer? What are their needs?
Consider their demographic characteristics, such as age, marital status, gender, income, or education. The more you know about your target market, the better you’ll be able to connect with them in a way that is meaningful to them. It’s also important to understand what motivates customers to buy. Ask yourself why they would buy your product or service. This will also help you distinguish yourself from your competition.
2. Situation Analysis
What problem do you solve for your customers? What makes you different than everyone else in the market? What are the trends in your industry?
A situation analysis provides an overview of your product or service and its place in the market. Many companies will start with a SWOT analysis, evaluating their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. You may also want to invest time in understanding your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. This exercise can help you identify your unique value proposition (UVP). Essentially, the key features/benefits of your product or service that differ from your competitors, the value your product or service brings. Identifying your UVP enables you to—position your brand, products, or services so your target market sees your business as different from, and ideally better than, your competition.
3. Goals and Objectives
What does success look like?
Here, you detail the desired outcome of your marketing plan with attainable and realistic objectives, targets, and a clear time frame.
Make it a general practice to set only SMART goals:
- Specific (sensible, significant)?
- Measurable (motivating, meaningful)?
- Achievable (agreed upon, attainable)?
- Relevant (reasonable, realistic)?
- Time-bound (timely, time-based)?
4. Strategies and Tactics
What actions will you take to meet the objectives? How will you reach more people and attract more customers?
Once you’ve identified your target market and objectives, it’s time to determine how you’ll promote your business to meet your goals. There are more marketing tactics today than ever before and trying to decipher which ones are best for your business can be overwhelming. Clear objectives and understanding your target audience give you a better idea of what marketing strategies will work best. It’s also important to know what your competition is doing and to stay up to date with tactics and channels that your target audience is using.
5. Budget and Timeframes
How much are you spending on your marketing initiatives? Do you need to spend more to generate greater results? How long will it take to achieve the objectives?
Establish a timeline and budget for your marketing strategy that reaches your audience throughout the year. Include all known promotions and a breakdown of their cost. A plan enables you to create a more consistent and effective marketing strategy. It’s also important to build some flexibility into your budget.
Make 2022 a success—take the time to create a plan. And if you need help, we have a team of experts who live for this kind of stuff. And that guitar may be out of sight, but it is never out of mind. Stay tuned…a future blog may highlight my greatest hits.
Questions about building a marketing plan? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.