Marketing Plan 101: A Comprehensive Guide
Like any worthwhile endeavors, preparation is key to its success. Even the great former president Abraham Lincoln was a staunch advocate of this idea with the saying, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” That’s more than half of the total allowable hours of work preparing and not doing the actual job itself.
Of course, that was a statement that is meant not to be taken literally but rather figuratively. Meaning, any particular work is most accomplished when a lot of time is invested carefully preparing for its task.
Whether you are to do physical work such as—taken literally—lumbering a tree with an axe or setting up a marketing plan for your business, having to prepare for it is first and foremost of critical importance.
Plan That Works
But not all plans are made alike. Some plans can only be just concepts and ideas but whose actual implementation is disastrous in the result. If you are part of a business, let alone its owner, you do not want that.
Real effective plans have to be carefully designed and with one specific goal in mind: make it an integral element to the business’ success over time.
Here is how you should structure your marketing plan:
1.List out your goals
Many may find starting out a marketing plan by listing out target goals to be unconventional—which it is—by doing so is crucial in laying out the next important steps in your schematics.
You could take this initial step as laying out the guideline which has the power to alter where you marketing plan is headed.
2. Finds ways to explain your research
In a kind of business where your disposition is always not secure, it pays to know what the competition is like and how you can level your play with it via the so-called competitive analysis. Essentially, this is a “my business versus your business” outlook at things which necessitates the need to compare and contrast at how your business performs against others.
The process of gauging your opponent versus your own is a true-to-label statement about “competition” and may require you to resort to spying your competitors for your business’ distinct advantage.
But competition is not always just about looking at your competitors and highlighting their flaws, it is also about understanding the totality of your business on 4 elements: strength, weakness, opportunities, and threats via the SWOT Analysis.
The SWOT Analysis is a realistic view of your business by identifying two polarities, namely strength and weakness, and opportunities and threats. The positive polarities, strength, and opportunities, are factors to look upon as good qualities for your business which you could either maintain or improve. Conversely, the negative polarities, weakness, and threats act as indicators to look after in order to either eradicate or, at least, improve upon.
Lastly, do not neglect the fact that your target consumers have their own habits and interest about buying. Knowing the personality of your buyers and spending habits are very important in driving up sales for your business.
3. Rationalize your strategy
When you already a clear grasp of the landscape of the business and the people that are integral in its ecology—the consumers—designing a strategy with these factors in mind is also important.
This phase could include various steps such as solidifying the business’ brand, formulating a unique selling proposition, building the right network, establishing an effective platform, and producing contents as a hook to your target consumers.
There is no one way of doing all this and how your strategy ultimate shapes depend on your business’ ecology and the elements that interplay in it.
This part of the making of a marketing plan may seem simple enough to do, but in reality, the scope and the magnitude of this task are rather broad and intensive and could entail as many individuals or supporting strategies to one another.
4. Set your metrics and choose the right method
Having a business is more than just about counting the revenue versus the overall expenses. That may be one thing but is not the sole basis of a business’ success. You would also have to consider its performance in the market, too, as gauged by certain data it generates.
To be able to do measurements, however, you would need a baseline to compare future key performance indicators (KPI) with. This might mean using pre-existing data before launching the strategy and then comparing it with future results. The variance in the collective data should signify whether the business is performing better or worse based on the set strategies for it.
If the business did not perform better than the previous, then there is something wrong with the plan which necessitates a change in the strategy. If it went better, then it implies that a sound strategy is developed which you could either maintain or improve upon over time. This is how businesses grow.
5. Highlight dominant strategies and maneuvers
With many strategies and plans in the pool, it may be hard to implement on everything at once. Instead, pick 4 or 5 in the list and take them collectively as your overarching strategies along with their corresponding tactics for execution.
Take the scenario this way: better have four or five standing goals as strong pillars to your plans than to erect six or more goals but lack the capacity to implement them. Or, they may be implemented, but may not produce the expected outcome because they are either insignificant or too weak to be a part of your overall goals to begin with.
Take note that goals and tactics are not supposed to be taken interchangeably but rather one being a complement to another—they are mutually inclusive. You can never attain a goal without the right maneuver towards it and you can never have a tactic without a goal for it.