How to Write and implement a marketing plan

The only way to grow your business, you client base and your revenue is by marketing. The more you plan and strategize your marketing, the more effective your marketing efforts will be.

A good marketing plan is a clear set of goals and aspirations and the roads to take to reach them, with clear, defined steps for how to achieve progress. First you define where you want to get to. The you determine what strategy you are going to take and then you set clear, practical measurable activities.

Your marketing plan should include the deadlines for each stage, your budget, clearly delineated and broken down and job allocations for your staff.

A good marketing plan will;

  • identify specific marketing activities and budgets
  • set and meet marketing objectives
  • bring a marketing strategy to life.

Marketing isn’t static. You should set up regular points of review to go you’re your marketing plan, evaluate its success and how well you’ve been implementing it. Someone should be on top of developing your marketing plan to meet new situations and changes, making sure you are consistently implementing the strategies in your plan, regularly evaluating whether those strategies are contributing to your overall marketing goals and then tweaking your marketing plan if and as necessary.

It might seem overwhelming or abstract. We’re here for you. That’s why we’ve compiled a guide to show you how to write a marketing plan. From identifying goals, coming up with strategies and tactics to writing the plan itself, we’ve got you covered so that you’ve got your marketing covered.

Develop a marketing plan

Why do I need a marketing plan?

Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat – Sun Tzu

Think of your marketing plan like a map. Advertising and social media posts won’t help you if the content is sporadic and isn’t trying to achieve anything specific. Having a clear goal means you can plan what marketing needs to be done and how. No more guesswork, no more shots in the dark. Keep your activities targeted and you will be able to measure success.

A marketing plan consists of 2 parts:

  1. Marketing goals and objectives, your marketplace and the tactics required to achieve your marketing strategy
  2. The action plan you’ll use to implement each marketing tactic.

A good marketing plan is like a detailed map – first you identify where you’re heading and then the steps you need to take to get there. You and your team should already have created a clear marketing strategy. Marketing tactics are how you will achieve and implement that strategy to attain your marketing goals.

Describe your marketplace and customers

Start by summarising your market research. Work out what who your customers are, what they want and what you deliver that’s different from everyone else. That’s your competitive advantage and you’re going to share that through marketing to entice customers.

What to include in the first section of your marketing plan;

  • Who your customers are; the demographics of your client base i.e., age, gender, occupation, spending range, lifestyle and buying trends.
  • Any information that will affect your marketing. For example, an increasing trend towards online shopping is important to note, because it directs you to focus on digital marketing.
  • Any conditions you expect to change which will impact your clients buying trends. For example, the increasing generation of boomers becoming mature and looking for health products and services. Or the demand shift as existing clients’ children age and need different products.
  • Work out exactly what your strengths are, what gives you an edge in the market, what you do well at, for example, do you have a large social media following or a retail location situated in a highly visible location. Determine your weakness so you can avoid pitfalls, if are short on staff and are not tech savvy, do not create an over-reliance on social media presence.

Use SWOT analysis to develop strategies

A SWOT analysis is when you determine your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It’s a smart move for a business. Your strengths are what can help you stay ahead of the pack and stand out in an overcrowded market. For example, imperfect foods started off as being heavily environmentally friendly with their marketing. They then discovered that they’re price range appealed to the fiscally aware market. When they started advertising as a money saving gimmick and offering budget saving tips, their revenue and client base grew.

Addressing your weaknesses is also important, you may want to consider training yourself or your staff or hiring new recruits to cover your weak areas. Opportunities are extremely important to identify so that you can capitalise on them in your marketing tactics and threats are obviously vital to avoid.

Outline sales targets

Knowing where you want to get to is half the work of a good marketing plan. Detail your sales targets and all projections and forecasts for your products or services. Make sure to include your USP that will be driving sales.

This section will be used as a way to measure your success, create goals and evaluate how well your marketing plan has performed.

Implement a marketing plan

Once you have established a clear goal, clear marketing strategy and decided on the tactics you are going to use (eg; online ads, social media presence, promotions, flyers etc.) you are ready to create practical steps.

This is the stage where you stop dreaming and create realistic, implementable steps.

Marketing will succeed when you have both the resources and skill to execute your plans. If you have neither the means nor the knowledge, contact marketing experts for direction or advice. Consider training or investing in marketing software to aid your marketing.

Communicate with your staff

Your team are your brand ambassadors.

The most successful companies invest in training or coaching staff on how to market themselves as an extension of the corporate brand. This could be through training days and seminars or simply coaching them through carrying your brand message through their interactions. Customers and clients will interact with your employees more than the marketing team.

Make sure all your employees are capable of marketing your company.

Keep them in the loop so that they feel connected and confident. Make sure they understand what your marketing strategy is and how it fits with your business strategies and goals. If your staff haven’t got the marketing capabilities they need, provide training or mentorship. You may decide that you need to recruit marketing staff to oversee and manage marketing goals and implementation.

Monitor your progress

A marketing plan should be continually revisited, reviewed and revised to make sure it is successfully implemented and kept up to date. Introspection and evaluation are vital parts of business management.

You need to regularly ask yourself;

  • Are you on target?
  • Have your tactics been too ambitious?
  • Is your budget on track?
  • Are any of your tactics not working on your customers?
  • Social media is an integral part of a start-ups or SMEs 2020 marketing strategy.45% of the world is on a social media platform. Can they find you? Will they like what they find?
  • Is your website up to date, how well does it rank in search engine results?
  • Are you utilising the right platforms, should you be on LinkedIn instead of Facebook?
  •  Are you receiving the engagement you need or is your channel full of jargon and out-of-date information?

Make adjustments

Adapt and adjust your marketing plan whenever you see it is not working or could be improved upon. Track changes in technology, market, competition, customers – any information relevant to your industry and your business. When they change, you need to change and your marketing plan must adapt to suit the requirements and circumstances.

Develop contingency plans

No-one is perfect, no marketing plan is infallible. Marketing is a dynamic process that is constantly learning, evaluating and adapting. Make sure to build in contingency plans into your marketing plan. Your objective may need to change, deadlines may need to be extended or new channels and platforms should be explored.

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