The Benefits of a Marketing Plan

What is a Marketing Plan?

Marketing is to do with matching the features and benefits that your products and services are able to provide with specific customers and then telling those customers why they should buy them from you. Your marketing plan details how to do this. A Marketing Plan is a document that supplements your business plan and brings together all your market research so that you can work out exactly where your business is going and how it is going to get there.

Your plan should include:

  • Objectives.
  • Details of the current market.
  • A full analysis of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. (SWOT Analysis.)
  • Your plans for achieving your objectives.

The plan should be flexible and able to be adapted to meet the changing conditions in the market place.

Benefits of a Marketing Plan

Having a marketing plan will help you to focus on your target market and to find if there are any gaps in the market that will provide new opportunities for you. Your marketing plan will also provide you with something that enables you to measure how you are progressing. This can then highlight strategies that are working for you and those that are not.

A good marketing plan will also benefit you in that it provides your outside financiers with confidence that you know your market and that you know how to achieve your objectives.

A good marketing plan will deal with the matter of sourcing new leads as well as creating new networking opportunities for your business. The bottom line means your plan will define your business as well as your customers and your future plans.

What is a Good Marketing Plan

A good marketing plan is really a blueprint for the action that your business needs to take in order to achieve certain goals. It will identify the most cost effective ways of performing certain functions and should show the best way to present your business to your target audience.

A good marketing plan will save you money by cutting out unnecessary expenses while at the same time presenting you with new marketing opportunities. A good plan will work for your business to make sure that what you do fits into your budget and that your marketing drive reaches your target audience.

It will essentially keep all your activities and your budgets on track. If you don’t have a good marketing plan it is possible that you are not taking full advantage of all the ways to reach your target audience. This will result in decreased sales.

A Marketing Plan must Reach People

Your marketing plan will provide you with a track upon which your business needs to run. It is similar to a flight plan for pilots. Their flight plan tells them the direction along which their plane is going to fly, where they are leaving from and the path they have to take to get to their destination.

A sports coach will have a game plan that sets out how the team is going to play the game that particular day. The coach will work on strategies that will effectively frustrate and win out over the competition so they can come out on top.

Your marketing plan should be designed in a similar fashion.

  • It has to be built with an end result in mind.
  • It should fit the specific markets you are aiming for as well as the people in those markets.
  • It has to be flexible to meet the needs of the people in the markets because those needs are constantly changing.
  • It must focus on people rather than on products.

Remember to always develop a marketing plan that is specifically designed to reach people.

Making Marketing Plans Work First Time Around?

Marketing plans are important to successful businesses. Your marketing plan will lay down all the important pathways by which your business will market its products and thereby earn. This will serve as both your guide and reminder in creating a successful business.

Sticking to Marketing Plans

It is always easy to create a marketing plan and forget about it in the future. It is very essential that you device your marketing plan to be as practical and applicable as possible. To do this your marketing plan should be simple and comprehensible. It should outline your marketing goals and the ways by which these goals should be attained. Always remember that a successful operation is an operation that sticks to the plan so be strict when it comes to complying with your formulated plan. However, retain enough flexibility to accommodate improvements.

Market Research and Marketing Plans

Before formulating your marketing plan, good market research should be done. Research is a very important if the validity and effectiveness of marketing plans are to be assured. Take valuable information and analyze it properly.

The main issues that you should research on in formulating your marketing plan are the market, your competitors, your product, and your cost. Understanding the market means seeing your target market,s wants and needs. Once you have this data you would be able to predict your target market,s actions and take advantage of them.

Getting data regarding your would be competitors lets you see their strengths and weakness. Your competitors are your best friends (you can learn from them) as well your greatest challengers. Getting to know them will give you sufficient methods in counteracting their actions properly. This will enable you to see clearly the steps you will have to make to gain competitive advantage.

Marketing Plans: The Need for Product Knowledge

Information on your product will give you the most marketing advantage. Coupled with your knowledge of your target consumers, you can market you product to fit their needs. Marketing plans that aim to create a need for a certain product can also be formulated.

Product success also depends on its uniqueness. New ideas catch the consumers interest. Just make sure that you and your product create a good impression. A bad impression from the start will make competing for your public share harder.

Product knowledge will also give you an idea regarding the cost of your product. Remember that the cost of your product will dictate your return on investment. So it is important that you know the basics in allocating product cost. Your cost should not be solely focused in earning the highest amount possible. It should also be balanced by factors such as purchasing power of your target market and the demand for your product. The simple rules of economics never fail you in this aspect.

Successful marketing plans should be realistic and ideal at the same time. You should put the maximum amount of effort on the factors that you can control. This ensures that the time, effort and money that you invest has a substantial return and is not wasted on superficial matters. At the same time, invest a tiny portion of your resources on uncontrollable factors. Experimentation is the mother of all discoveries. Trying things that have never been tried before lets you take advantage of untapped ideas and methods. New ideas oftentimes become trailblazers for businesses.

Drive Your Sales With a Professional Marketing Plan

A marketing plan is a blue print document for a business which is developed to plan and implement the marketing activity necessary to achieve the goals set out for the business. For most small and medium sized businesses this will mean a marketing plan which is developed to achieve the sales and profit targets set for the business. A good marketing plan will target available resources in the most efficient and planned manner and enable the business to achieve its objectives. There are a number of stages to developing an effective marketing plan.

1. Define the business itself – What is the business in terms of size, location, sales channels, etc. What does the business do, what are the unique sales points or main sales points of the business or its services and products.

2. Define the objectives – What are the objectives for the business, these may include increasing sales from existing customers, winning new customers, increased profitability, launching new products or services, moving into new geographical areas, opening up new markets, raising awareness of the business or brand, developing new distribution channels. Most likely it will be a combination of several of these objectives.

3. Identify the target market – The marketing plan should identify the types of customers or clients that the products or services will be sold to. Factors to consider for B2C businesses will be social group A, B C1, C2, D & E. Geographical location, age group, gender, interest group, etc. For B2B businesses factors will include business sector, size, geographical location, job title, turnover, etc.

4. Timescale – It is most productive in developing a marketing plan to break down the achievement of the objectives by timescale. Set out what needs to be achieved in the short, medium and long term. In the short term it may be best to focus on achieving a level of sales which can at least support the business outgoings, longer term objectives would include achieving high levels of awareness in the target market and a reputation for excellence in your field.

5. Marketing Tactics – Once points 1 to 4 have been decided the next stage in the marketing plan is to decide which marketing tactics need to be employed to best achieve the objectives that have been identified for the short, medium and long term. The marketing tactics employed could include advertising, direct marketing, graphic design (logo, brochures, leaflets, point of sale), online marketing, search engine optimisation, public relations, sales promotion and channel marketing. The factors which decide which marketing tactics will be most effective include available budget, the nature of the target market, the main sales points of the business and its services and products, competitor activity, market conditions and availability of suitable media.

6. Media Selection – Once marketing tactics have been decided the next stage of the marketing plan is to select the most appropriate media. There are a whole host of available media channels whatever marketing tactics are employed. For example, for direct marketing there are a multitude of list brokers offering many options for suitable lists – so contact at least 4-5, the internet is now an excellent means of sourcing professional marketing help, consider which options are best for your business. For advertising you can select from media such as national, regional and local newspapers, magazines, newsletters, radio, posters, banners and even TV. The selection will depend entirely on your target market and budget – make your budget work as hard as you can.

7. Creative Message – This aspect of the marketing plan will be developed directly from the unique sales point and major sales points that were identified earlier. The creative message may include a strapline that encapsulates the key sales point for the product or service. The creative message must be consistent across all media and have impact and standout. For the implementation of this aspect of the marketing plan it is advisable to seek the services of a professional marketing agency – again this can be sourced via the internet.

In summary, your marketing plan is key to the success of your business, it is a blueprint for the long term development of the business sales. It is important that your marketing plan centres around achieving sales and profitability, return on investment is key to good marketing. It is best to get professional help when developing your marketing plan – use the internet to source that help.