Being more particular with your marketing plan's content can help you focus on your priorities during specific time periods. If you are familiar with spreadsheets, incorporating your marketing plan…continue reading
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What Is a Marketing Business Plan?
Before getting started, it is important to first develop a solid understanding of what a marketing business plan even is. This would be an expanded version of an overall business plan that concentrates on what you need to do in order to be successful at promoting your business. The document needs to span at least one year, which should be enough time for you to reach long-term goals but still short enough to stay flexible should be said goals change or evolve over time.
Types of Marketing Business Plans
Even the term ‘marketing business plan’ still isn’t entirely specific. In truth, there are several variations in existence, depending on what type of business you are engaged in and what specific type of marketing you wish to pursue. Take a look at the list below and see for yourself which among the following you are going to need for your own business.
How to Make a Marketing Business Plan
Now that you have been made aware of the types and variations, the time has come to receive the step-by-step guide on how you can create your own legally-enforceable plan from scratch.
Step one: Know the business
There is no better foundation for any sort of annual plan than the solid knowledge of what your own business is all about. This is the part where you can give a general overview of your present business operations, in addition to the internal and the external environment. From this step, there are many companies that also opt to do a SWOT analysis – something that details your company’s strengths and weaknesses, while identifying the potential opportunities for growth along with the threats that are capable of hindering or even derailing you. Doing so is a great way to look at the big picture, which is always helpful for the rest of your marketing business plan.
Step two: Determine your target market
The next step to concern yourself with would be your target market. That should be a common term tossed around whenever anybody talks about building a business from the ground up and for good reason – it is a key element for the development of highly effective marketing strategies. You can start things off by listing down any detail that you know regarding your ideal customer. This would include any basic demographic information like age or gender. However, it is wise to dig even deeper by looking at what decisions they make and what behaviors they exhibit. By learning your customers inside and out, you can better anticipate how they will respond to your own methods, thereby making your attempts at creating tactics and strategies that much easier.
Step three: Know your competitors
Businesses, unless completely new or unique, will never operate in a vacuum. Even most niche-based companies will still have their own competitors in some shape or form. Those who intend on providing more generalized products and services are bound to have even more competition, so it pays to work hard to stand out from a sea of similar, if not outright identical businesses. By bringing in as much knowledge as you can, the easier it becomes to mitigate the threat brought upon by other companies. Start things off by describing in detail your own products. From there, write about how it measures up to the ones offered by existing competition. From there, it is all about determining what will position you to be the number one choice in the minds of your customers, which is easier said than done.
Step four: Develop your goals
As intimidating as dealing with competitors may be, the part where you develop goals for your marketing business plan can be considered the fun part of the process. It is recommended that you keep your goals specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely – in other words, SMART. You need not spend too much time thinking about the logistics just yet. For now, simply wrack your brain for the things that you want to accomplish over the next year or so.
Step five: Outline your strategies
Now comes the part where you deal with the actual strategies that you will put into action in just a few steps. It is recommended that you tackle each of your goals from the previous step separately; doing so will help you get things done more easily and is a great way for you to determine whether or not it is properly realistic or if it requires a bit more tweaking. For each goal you have, divide your strategies into even smaller steps to make it more attainable. Once you do that, you can proceed to the financial part of your marketing business plan.
Step six: Set up your budget
Within a full-blown marketing business plan, some may still consider it necessary to detail the complete financial side of your business. However, you can choose to make things quicker and easier by focusing strictly on any activities that are marketing-related only. For this section, there are three important questions that you need to ask yourself. First would be how much money do you intend to spend on all the marketing and promotional activities over the next year? Second is how much is each action item going to cost you? And most important of all, where are you going to get the money? It is equally important that you write as honestly as you can in this section. After all, it is much better to discover that you may need to tweak something so that it is more affordable now rather than in a few months when the odds of successfully fixing the problem has become much slimmer.
Step seven: Implement the plan
The very last step would be to test the waters and begin implementing your plan. Take note that not everything is required to be a smashing success right away. It is possible for you to fail constantly in the beginning, only to make the necessary adjustments and then reach the level of success that you desire. You may find that your initial goals are far from the level of efficiency that you may have envisioned but at least now you would know better and fix things accordingly. Plans that were originally conceived to be simple and basic may prove to be lacking, and as a result, eventually grow into something far more complex than expected. Alternatively, more complex plans may prove difficult to pull off and will require you to strip it to its bare minimum in order to get a better chance for success.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Marketing Business Plans
In writing a marketing business plan, be aware that there are considerations that you cannot afford to avoid or neglect. At the same time, there will be pitfalls for you to be on the lookout for. Having said that, the following list of do’s and don’ts is going to come in handy for any marketer who wants to safely reach their desired level of success.
Do show how much you understand the demands of your market
Any good marketing plan needs to display how well its author understands the micro-economic environment for a few reasons. By being knowledgeable of what drives the market’s demand up or down, you will be able to come up with more effective strategies and anticipate what is to come with greater accuracy. Also, know that potential investors and business partners will be more eager to join in on the venture if the marketing business plan demonstrates the appropriate level of understanding, which will only contribute more to the business’s long-term success.
Do make use of sensible numbers
It can be expected to have a projection of what your profit will be over the next couple of years. However, you must take care to make use of sensible numbers when calculating your forecast. Backers will be able to see at a glance if your projected revenue is sensible or not, which is in itself a sign regarding how strategic your entire approach is towards your marketing business plan. Any forecasting on your part needs to be easy to digest so that your backers can tell quickly if your plans can make money.
Do make sure you have a clear storyline
There are times when all it takes to reel backers in are simple sentences explain why your marketing business plan is going to work. In addition to that, your plan needs to support these sentences to remind any readers time and time again why your plans are worth backing. Stick to the key story when writing all the necessary details. If you stray from it, then your business plan is going to become unnecessarily confusing and less appealing to potential backers.
To tackle any risks head-on
Risk is always going to factor into any business plans you may have in mind. It may not be that problematic for you, but investors need to be assured that they won’t be wasting any of their precious time and money on an overly risky venture. So with that said, be sure to address the risks involved in your marketing plans and state the ways in which you plan on mitigating them for the peace of mind of your backers.
Do make your business’ uniqueness clear
To make your marketing business plan stand out amidst a sea full of them, it is recommended that what you write addresses the following questions: what are your sustainable competitive advantages? How do your strategies differ from the competition? How will it generate appealing returns for your investors? Painting a clear picture, while important, is hardly enough. There will come a time when you need to break things down even more and show backers just what makes you different from any other business that they can turn their attention towards.
Don’t neglect your competition
Competition is too strong a factor in any business plan for any marketer to neglect. It can be an easy trap to fall into, but you need to steer clear of doing any insufficient planning regarding your competitors. Examine the areas in which they do well, as well as where they are at their weakest, along with the things they are most likely to do that can possibly affect your marketing plans.
Don’t forget the ones you are writing for
Every inch of your business plan needs to be geared towards those who can be defined with your target audience. It can be your board, potential investors, or even a banker. Do not neglect to identify any concerns that they may have and be sure that you tackle each one head-on. Include as much relevant information as possible while simultaneously removing or excluding any information that is the exact opposite of that.
Don’t underestimate the necessary resources for your marketing efforts
The logistics of your operations need to be properly accounted for from top to bottom. You need to make sure that you lay out the resources and partnerships needed to make your venture a reality with the utmost care. Some of them will include, but will not be limited to your employees, the managers, the premises and the equipment, any suppliers, advisers, distributors, and agents.
Don’t neglect your backer
The best and most serious investors are going to do their own homework about your business. On their own time and due to their own diligence, they will not only talk to members of your staff, but also your customers, and even the competition if necessary. Any bad news that you fail to inform them of personally will eventually be uncovered. Never attempt to sweep it under the rug; include the good and the bad in your business plan so that their trust in you will remain unshaken.
Don’t dismiss the possibility of the competition responding
It is important to be aware that the markets are always changing and adapting, so it is recommended for you to take into consideration what responses your competitors will come up with if you were to adhere to the marketing strategies detailed in your business plan. Also, know that it is entirely possible that those responses may threaten your own achievements. What is best here would be complete honesty on your part and write down all of the potential implications of your competition’s responses, along with any countermeasures that you will need to take.
In the end, a marketing business plan is a necessity to ensure maximum exposure and awareness for your business and brand. It is clear that there is much to look into and even more to understand regarding its nuances. By increasing your knowledge and understanding of this document, you ensure that the entire process comes much easier and faster for you. Those who do not wish to start from scratch will be glad to know that there are always resources available. All that is left to do is ensure that the chosen marketing business plan template is fully edited to suit its owner’s specific needs.