A marketing plan is a tactical road map that a business uses to plan, implement, and track a marketing strategy over a specified period of time. It can include a separate marketing strategy for the different marketing teams in the company, but they should all be working towards achieving similar business goals.
The objective of a marketing plan is to jot down your strategies and tactics in an organized manner. This helps in keeping you on track and measuring the success of your marketing campaigns. When you write a marketing plan, it will help you think of every campaign’s deliverables, tactics, budget, buyer personas, and mission. With all the information in a central place, it becomes easy to stay on track with your campaign, observing what works and what does not, and evaluating the success of your strategy.
A marketing strategy explains how a business will achieve a certain goal or mission. This includes which marketing software, channels, content, and campaigns they will use to implement on the mission and track its success. For example, while a greater department or plan might be in charge of social media marketing, you may consider your presence on Facebook as a personal marketing strategy.
On the other hand, a marketing plan contain a single or several marketing strategies. It is an outline upon which all of your marketing strategies are developed, and helps you link each strategy back to a bigger business goal and marketing operation. For example, your company wants to launch a new software product that requires customers to sign up for. This will require the marketing department to create a marketing plan that will help in introducing the product to the industry and generate the anticipated signups. The department resolves to launch a Twitter account to initiate a conversation around the subject, a new YouTube video to establish expertise, and a blog dedicated to the industry – all of which help in attracting an audience and convert it into software users.
From the above, there is a clear distinction between the marketing plan and the three marketing strategies. The marketing plan is devoted to the introduction of a new software product and driving signups to the product. The business will implement on the plan with three marketing strategies: a Twitter account, a YouTube video series, and a new industry blog. But, the three marketing strategies might each be considered as a specific content strategy.
The first thing to do when writing a marketing plan is to present your mission. Although the mission is particular to your marketing department, it is supposed to serve the business’s primary mission statement. Provide details, but not too much. You will have lots of opportunity in the marketing plan to explain how you will acquire new clients and accomplish the mission.
Concentrate of the uniqueness of your product and the benefits it will provide to your customers. You can use the following questions to write a summary of these elements for your marketing plan:
The pricing strategy section of your marketing plan entails determining how your product or service will be priced. You should charge a competitive price but still make a sensible profit. The main point here is to be sensible or reasonable, you can charge what you want, but for each product/service there is a maximum amount that the customer is willing to spend. Thus, your pricing strategy should take into account this consumer threshold.
Most small business people have a common question about the pricing strategy in their marketing plan, “How do you determine the best price to charge?” Typically, you should set your pricing by calculating your costs, approximating the benefits to customers, and making a comparison of your products/services and prices to other similar products/services.
Set the pricing by evaluating the cost of production for the product/service and then add a fair price for the benefits to be derived by the customer. A breakeven analysis may be useful in determining your minimum threshold. You can also use your competitors pricing as a guide towards a fair market value and help you decide the maximum price you can charge for your product/service.
Always remember that the main objective of a marketing plan is to make people buy your product/service. In this section, you should describe exactly how this is going to happen. The sales and distribution strategy is in three parts, although they might not all apply to every business.
If the business deals with selling a product, also include information about packaging and inventory levels at this stage of your marketing plan. For instance:
Which salespeople will you use, for example, will they be telephone solicitors, product demonstrators, or commissioned salespeople?
An efficient marketing plan should explain how the marketing department will track the progress of its mission. To do this, you will have to define your key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs are singular metrics that evaluate the different components of a marketing campaign. The units obtained help in establishing short-term goals within the mission and communicate the progress to business leaders.
A buyer persona is an account of whom you intend to attract. It can include job title, family size, location, sex, age, and more. Every buyer persona should be a reflection of your business’s potential customers and existing customers. Consequently, it is essential that business managers are in agreement on what buyer personas should be.
This is the section where you include the major points of your content and marketing strategy. There is a long list of content channels and types available today, therefore, it is vital that you choose wisely and describe how you will utilize your channels and content in this part of the marketing plan.
The following stipulations should be in a content strategy:
A marketing plan describes the focus of the marketing team. But, it also states the things that the marketing team will not focus on. If you have other elements of the business that you are not addressing in this specific plan, list them in this section. The omissions help in justifying your content, KPIs, buyer personas, and mission. Note that it is impossible to please everyone in one marketing campaign, and you should let your team know this especially if they are not on the hook for something.
The marketing department’s content strategy might take advantage of many free platforms and channels, but there are several hidden expenses to a marketing campaign that should be accounted for.
Whether it’s a new full-time marketing hire, sponsorships, or freelance fees, use the costs to create a marketing budget and include each expense in this part of the marketing plan.
Part of a successful marketing campaign is to know your competitors. Conduct a research on the major players in your industry and go ahead and profile each one of them in this section. Bear in mind that not all of them will pose similar challenges to your business. For example, one competitor might rank highly on search engines for the same keywords you want to rank for, while another will have a strong presence on a social network where you intend to make your presence felt.
At this point, you marketing plan should be fully fleshed out. You should now explain who will be doing what. However, you should provide too much details about your employees’ daily projects, but state which teams and team leaders are responsible for specific KPIs, channels, content types, and more.
An efficient marketing plan presents realistic marketing actions, strategies and goals based on concrete research and information about your business and the target market. However, the marketing plan is only as effective as your devotion to executing it, allocating sufficient resources to it, involving your staff and openly communicating with them. You should not just write a marketing plan, review it and put it on a shelf. Instead, the marketing plan should be a progressing blueprint to guide your efforts and check your success. Marketing is only successful when there is total commitment.
A marketing plan is often a part of a much larger document known as a business plan. Most business plans are similar in format while some have identical text to other companies. As such, many business people or students prefer using parts of existing business plans instead of developing a custom business plan. The following are reasons for having a custom business plan:
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