Create a Marketing Plan in Six Easy Steps

Create a Marketing Plan in Six Easy Steps

“I know we need a marketing plan, but I’m not sure where to start. And, quite frankly, I don’t have time to stop and figure it out.” This is a comment many small business owners are familiar with. We know that we need a marketing plan, but the thought of taking time to write one can seem overwhelming.

A marketing plan needn’t be complicated. It’s far better to start with a simple written plan that you can follow, tweak and track, than winging it until you have time to produce a full-scale marketing plan. A simple written plan will provide a guide to work from, clearly define your goals and organize all those bright ideas floating around in your brain. This plan will also serve as a starting point when you choose to write a more extensive plan.

Step One: What do you sell?
Clearly define your product, including the features and benefits. Make a list of each product or service you offer, and under each one, list the corresponding benefits to the consumer. Write out a clear, succinct USP, describing how your product or service differs from those of your competitors.

Step Two: To whom do you sell?
Create a detailed customer profile: If you market directly to consumers, list demographics: age, gender, lifestyle, location, preferences, interests, etc. Where do they go? What do they read? Listen to? Watch? If you market to businesses, describe your ideal business client, include the size of company, number of employees, gross sales, location, etc. What do they want? What concerns and challenges do they face, especially those your product addresses? Make a note here of any seasonal patterns such as peak buying periods or slow times. Perhaps brainstorm bonus offerings you could add during slow seasons to increase and even out your cash flow.

Step Three: What are you going to tell them?
Write a marketing message directed specifically to your target customer. Focus on the benefits (not features) you offer. Concentrate on one thing: what’s in it for them!

Step Four: Where are you now?
You need this as a benchmark for future tracking. Make a note of current marketing activities, the costs involved and, if possible, the revenue they generate.

Step Five: Where do you want to be and when?
Visualize your business one, two and five years from now. What will it look like? Be specific. Consider what changes will need to take place to achieve the future you want for this business.

Step Six: How do you plan to get there?
Define specific, realistic marketing goals. Plan how you will measure the results.

  • Decide which marketing strategies you will use, for example: networking, cold calling, mailings, advertising, website, emails, promotional events. Select two or three you could use to jump-start your marketing.
  • Brainstorm the best tactics for each of the strategies you’ve selected. For example, if you chose networking as a strategy, your tactics might be to attend certain events each week, revise your 30-second commercial and produce marketing materials to hand out.
  • Assign time and dollar resources for each strategy you’ve chosen.

Work Your Plan
Follow your plan, regularly review progress, track the results and modify where necessary. When something produces good results, stick with it. If it doesn’t work, stop or adapt it. Tracking results can make good marketing decisions easy.

By writing one step a day or one step each week, you’ll soon have a simple written marketing plan to guide you and ensure that you get the best return on your marketing dollar as you grow your company in the right direction.

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