While your business plan mainly outlines your entire business, a stand-alone marketing plan concentrates specifically, and in more detail, on just that one function. When business owners or entrepreneurs want to dive deeper into their marketing strategy, they will likely put together a detailed plan that outlines their marketing goals—as well as the steps needed to accomplish them. Here’s a five-step process for developing a marketing plan that will help you achieve your business growth goals.
STEP 1: LOOK INWARD
Think of your company as if it were a person with its extraordinary personality and identity. With that in mind, create separate lists that identify your business’s strengths, weaknesses and goals. Put everything down and make comprehensive lists.
Don’t edit or reject anything. Then, find priorities among the bullet points. If you’ve done this right, you’ll have more than you can use and some more important than others. Kick the less important bullets of the list and move the ones that are important to the top.
STEP 2: LOOK OUTWARD
The following list you’ll need to make outlines your business’s reliefs and threats. Think of both as external to your business—factors that you can’t control but can try to predict. Options can include new markets, new products and tendencies that favour your business.
Risks include competition and advances in technology that put you at a disadvantage. Also, make a list of invented people or organisations that serve as ideal buyers or your ideal target market. You can consider each persona. These people are iconic and excellent and stand for the best possible buyer.
Put yourself in the place of each of these perfect buyers and think about what media he or she uses and what message would communicate your offering most effectively. Keep your identity in the back of your mind as you flesh out your target markets.
STEP 3: FOCUS ON STRATEGY
Now it’s time to pull your lists together. Look for the crossroads of your unique identity and your target market. In terms of your business offerings, what could you drop off the list because it’s not strategic? Then think about dropping those who aren’t in your target market. For example, a restaurant business focused on healthful, organic and fine dining would probably cater to people more in tune with green trends and higher-than-average disposable income. So, it might rule out people who prefer eating fast-food like hamburgers and pizza and who look for bargains.
The result of step three is the strategy: Narrow your focus to what’s most in alignment with your identity and most attractive to your target market.
STEP 4: SET MEASURABLE STEPS
Get down to the details that are concrete and measurable. Your marketing strategy should become a plan that includes monthly review, tracking and measurement, sales forecasts, expense budgets and non-monetary metrics for tracking progress. These can include leads, presentations, phone calls, links, blog posts, page views, conversion rates, proposals and trips, among others.
STEP 5: REVIEW OFTEN AND REVISE
Just as with your business plan, your marketing plan should continue to evolve along with your business. Your assumptions will change, so adapt to the changing business landscape. Some parts of the project also will work better than others, so review and revise to accommodate what you learn as you go.