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An effective marketing plan identifies who your target customers are, how you will reach them, how you will retain your customers so they repeatedly buy from you, and everything in-between.
A marketing plan usually involves defining your target market, researching your competition, current methods of distribution and identifying your competitive advantage. The marketing plan can help you identify which customers are your best prospects, evaluate your business against others in your market and track the success of your marketing so that you learn what works.
The marketing plan provides the basis for you to develop effective promotions and identify the most suitable advertising and marketing opportunities.
You may also like to join a professional organisation on marketing and attend their training courses. The Marketing Association provide members access to numerous marketing services and resources.
Steps to creating a Marketing Plan
Don’t think that creating a marketing plan for your small business will take a few hours. It will take time to do the research and have the necessary discussions. Some Market Plans can be very involved, so talk to business mentors and colleagues to help you decide what would be useful in your plan.
Below is some key points to consider when creating your marketing plan:
Goals and Objectives
- What are your planned sales targets? (make sure these are realistic)
- What you are trying to accomplish and why?
- How does your marketing plan supports the goals in your business plan
- Who are you trying to reach with your marketing activities?
- Why would they buy your products/services over others?
- Define your target market and their behaviour (e.g. demographics, lifestyle/activities, values, interests)
- Who are your key customers? How will you target your products/services to them?
- How will you keep your customers coming back? How will you manage your customer relationships?
- What market research have you done? (Statistics NZ provides information on Industry benchmarks)
- How do you plan to enter the market?
- How do you intend to attract customers?
- How and why will this work?
- What is your point of difference? (this is also known as your unique selling proposition)
- How much you will spend on marketing and what you will spend it on?
- List your business's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (see more on SWOT Analysis here and use the free template to prepare your SWOT analysis)
- List the activities you will do to reduce/address each threat and weakness (add a completion date for each one to ensure you do it)
- List each product/service with a description
- Outline what you will charge for each service and why
- Identify where your products/services sit in the market – low-cost, competitive, high-end and how does this compare to your competitors?
- Why will your products/services succeed? What makes the customer want to buy them over your competition's products? What makes them unique?
- What is the prospective growth of the product/service – what drives or influences this growth?
- Who is your competition and how do you rate against them?
- Identify your key competitors, their key strengths and weaknesses and their point of difference
- Identify the steps/activities you will undertake to achieve your goals/objectives. Ensure you use multiple channels such as brochures, radio, TV, flyers, newsletters, and don’t forget about online marketing
- For each one identify the channel (e.g. newspaper), the task, the person responsible, the estimated cost, the completion date and how you will know the activity has been successful.
Monitoring your plan
- How you will measure the success of your marketing campaigns so you can identify where there is room for improvement
When you will review the impact of your marketing e.g. which channel, review date, review method, review outcome