A marketing plan is a comprehensive and detailed report written on marketing objectives and the marketing strategy to be used in the coming financial year. The business activities outlined in this plan help an organization in working towards the accomplishment of its objectives in a certain time period. When you are a business startup or a small business, it is imperative to understand the importance of having a marketing plan and even more essential to have one in place as well. Without pre-defined goals and clear directions, you cannot hope to achieve your desired target. Hence, forgetting a marketing plan is not an option!
Below are some factors mentioned that you, as a business aiming for success, need to consider when creating a marketing plan.
What is your Unique Selling Point (USP)?
A unique selling point or proposition is what makes your business stand out in the eyes of a viewer or customer. It is something that your business stands for and that sets you apart from other businesses, making you unique. Having USP’s is a must for businesses as advertisements and promotions are going to feature and highlight it, making them known for that specific quality. Therefore, first of all you should be identifying your USP, followed by utilizing it in your marketing plan to develop suitable promotions and advertisements.
Who is your customer/target market?
Customers are one of the most valued stakeholders of a business as they are the ones who are being targeted with your goods and services. Therefore, you need to have a clear picture of your target market and the persona of your potential customers; extensive primary research will need to be carried out to define the characteristics (qualitative and quantitative) of your customers. Detailed information about customers will give your marketing team a clear cut picture of the people your business is looking to appeal and will consequently aid in structuring more precise objectives and strategies.
What challenges do you face when selling and how can you overcome/address these?
Small businesses and startups face a lot of competition in their initial stages. To overcome obstacles you encounter on your road towards achieving your objectives, you need to first identify the challenges you face and the areas you lack in. Once you are through with analyzing your current situation and the identification stage, you need to think about solutions you can work towards by working on your marketing mix. This analysis will provide great help when drawing out marketing objectives and strategies, making them more comprehensive and relevant.
Which channels will work best for you?
Channels of distribution are pathways through which the products or services of a business are made accessible to the end customer. Choosing the best channels is critical as these will greatly affect your position in the competitive market and aid convenience for your customers. Once the channels have been chosen and cleared out, the marketing team will be in a better place to draw out specific goals and strategies related to them.
What is your marketing budget?
This is one of the most critical factors affecting your marketing objectives and strategies, as the budget will set the benchmark for your marketing spending. With a pre-set value for this budget, marketing managers and directors will be able to think about solutions and activities allowed by their budget. As a result this will undoubtedly save time and effort which would’ve been wasted otherwise if the budget would’ve been evaluated later.
How can technology help?
There have been great technological advancements over the years, aiding marketing activities (promotions, advertisements) greatly. You need to figure out ways in which modern technology (Internet, social media, emails, text messages, online sponsorships) can make the implementation of your strategies more effective and efficient and allow you to reach a larger target audience.
Time frame – set goals and deadlines for your business
While setting goals, you need to make sure that they aren’t vague or irrelevant and your deadlines are realistically achievable in the time frame you have chosen. Realistic and relevant goals will help you in formulating a marketing plan that serves as a motivator for your entire marketing team. Furthermore, it gives them a sense of direction and a pathway to follow, without which no team can hope of achieving their final objectives efficiently.