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5 Ways a Marketing Plan Can Boost Your Business

Small, medium and large size businesses have many differences but they all have one thing in common. The successful ones have written marketing plans to use and refer to. While there are other contributing factors play into what makes a business successful, a business with clear business and marketing goals provides an easy to understand road map to get them there.

Some businesses resist putting a marketing plan together, but there are many benefits that a company reaps from having one.

Writes your journey to success

Nobody is saying that if you write, it will come true, but the exercise of putting a plan together is time well spent. Instead of throwing marketing ideas at the wall to see what sticks, a plan provides a clear path and route and helps keep everyone on the right track. While a marketing manager may write the plan for your company, employees change every day. Having a written plan means that someone who knows nothing about your organization can walk through your doors, pick up the marketing plan and quickly gain an understanding of your company, its purpose, its goals, who its customers are and what steps need to be taken to get there.

Provides clarity and vision

As the leader of your organization, you have to lead. If you’re implementing marketing strategies and techniques by the seat of your pants without thinking things out, it doesn’t say much about your ability to lead. A true and successful leader has a well thought out plan that gets put down on paper. This is the only way that your vision for the company is going to become a reality. Once a plan is put together, it should be shared with the entire company. Even if you’re a one-man show, as many small businesses across the country are, a written plan helps to keep you focused and on track.

Instructions included

The marketing plan is a step-by-step guide providing your company with instructions for exactly what needs to be done to be successful. Putting the plan together requires you to evaluate your business at every single level and figure out a way to assemble all of the moving parts so that everything works effectively and efficiently–together. You could think of it as a huge to-do list that you can pull out on occasion and make sure that you can put a big check mark next to everything on it. If not, then it serves as a reminder of what you still need to do.

Centralizes everything in one document

When a coach thinks of a good play for his team, he doesn’t keep it locked away inside of his head. He puts it in the play book and makes his team study it until they can perform it in their sleep. The same holds true for your marketing plan-no matter what the size of your business is. Your written marketing plan is your game plan and spells out the vision for the company.

Provides the big picture view

It’s easy to get bogged down with the daily hassles or to compartmentalize instead of departmentalize. This tunnel vision can easily turn your attention away from the big picture that your company represents. In order to put yourself and your company in check from time to time, putting together and maintaining a plan allows you to take a look at the big picture. It really makes you think about where the business is, where it’s going and how it’s going to get there.

So while putting together a marketing plan can be an extensive exercise, it’s truly the hardest the first time you lay it out. After that it’s a year to year review to check the progress the company is making and then an update on its next year’s journey.

What Makes the Best Sample Marketing Plan?

If you are looking into actually creating a written marketing plan, you are ahead of the game. Starting out with a good sample marketing plan can put you even farther ahead.

It is important when creating a marketing plan to have something in front of you to reference. Dan Kennedy, one of the true marketing gurus has said that when he sits down to write copy (which has made himself and others millions and millions of dollars) that he NEVER begins with a blank canvas. That is a terrific lesson…We don’t have to begin our marketing plan with a blank document or piece of paper, and we shouldn’t!

Looking at other marketing plan samples provides us with not only a framework so that our ideas and topics are logically situated, but also might get our creative juices flowing as to other marketing efforts and ideas.

So, what makes the best type of sample marketing plan?

The one that can actually be easily completed and then utilized is surely the best! Marketing plans tend to be very long documents that are thoroughly thought out and take several weeks to complete. A problem is that lengthy documents tend to be imposing and might not be completed because of the amount of work and thought they are perceived to require. If they actually do get completed, these twenty to thirty-page masterpieces also seem to find their way into a computer folder or file cabinet never to be read again. It is a real shame because they likely will have done little good for the business after all the hard work that went into them. In addition, large documents are very difficult to review with a team, and one of the major factors in how well a plan is executed is whether or not the entire team buys into it.

A great way to work on and get buy-in from the team is by creating a plan within PowerPoint or Keynote. Presentation slides are easily displayed or referenced while an entire team discusses the plan. Using presentation formatting encourages big ideas to be put into a few words. We can more easily remember shorter phrases and even use images on the slides for an even greater impact.

A marketing plan that is living, breathing and modified through-out the year can be much more effective. Goals and calendars established during the planning can be updated with actual results and reviewed during monthly marketing meetings.

It is not critically important to use a sample marketing plan for your exact industry. Businesses are really much more similar than we think and this is especially true when it comes to marketing. One type of business, let’s say an insurance company, could very effectively model some marketing ideas from a bakery or an industrial parts manufacturer. All businesses are trying to attract more customers, sell more to their current customers, increase their overall sales volume and increase their profits. We can all use a variety of media in order to accomplish this and the more types the better! Marketing that performs a specific purpose and brings the target to action is going to be most effective and the collateral that stands out and cuts through the clutter is going to be the best. These things should be a part of the sample marketing plan that is selected.

What Should Go Into Your Marketing Plan?

Quite a number of marketing firms spend time thinking about what should go into your marketing plan. A large company might have a marketing director or manager to do this for them. However, small to medium size businesses might not be able to afford this luxury. This can be further complicated when there are multiple products or multiple areas within a business to be consulted or included in the marketing plan. At the most basic level, a plan can be used to create a strategy that a company will to market a product.

Thus a plan should communicate information about a product or service. It is a good idea to first start looking at what information your company would like to release to the general public as part of its marketing strategy. Therefore one of the key components to place in a plan is will look at how the company would like the public to view their product or service after undergoing a marketing campaign.

Another component that is needed to be included within a plan is the exact impact the product is expected to have on the industry. If the product is more geared towards consumers, the marketing plan should include how the product or service is different than what was previously released. The more innovative the product, the better as it will have less competition. Thus when thinking of what to put into your marketing strategy, spend time thinking how this will seriously give your company a competitive edge over other businesses.

When constructing a guide to market your product, it will also be beneficial to plan out how all areas of the company will work together to achieve results. For example, a new product launch will need the approval of the design team, the finance department, or even human resources to hire new people. Thus this is essential information to include when considering the best items to part inside your marketing plan.

Keep in mind that it is expected that a marketing plan for a smaller company with less products will not be as long. However, this does not mean that the marketing plan should not be as detailed. This will be a great way to outline the company’s steps towards how it will gain the competitive edge within the industry.

The company can also include how it will redesign a product or launch a new product. More than anything, this plan can be used to describe how a company will improve or develop a top notch customer service team. These are all key elements that can affect the marketing of a product, and should not be overlooked when discussing what to include in your marketing program.