By Nick Rojas
Your marketing plan is one of the most important strategic documents your company can have. It should help you reach your target audience effectively, engage them, and create a demand for your products or services. A successful entrepreneur should think about their marketing plan the same way a chess champion thinks about the board in front of them: always aware of where each piece is and where they want to see it a few moves down the road. However, you might be surprised to learn that a lot of people don’t even know what should be in their marketing plans, and struggle to create effective ones for their companies.
Instead of throwing together an uncertain marketing plan this year, why not get specific and create one that will maximize your chances of success? Here are 10 things you should definitely be including in your marketing plan for 2018.
Your research should include data about the market that currently exists for your products or services. Buff it up with information about current trends in sales, as well as an analysis of available vendors you can use.
2. A Clear Idea of Your Ideal Customer:
Form a picture of the kind of person who would be most likely to buy your product or service. The more you understand about your ideal customer, the easier you will find it to market to them. Using CRMs can be especially useful here, since many of them collect data about the customers you already have.
3. Detailed Descriptions of Your Product or Service:
Understanding your customer is just one half of the equation. You should also know as much as there is to know about what you’re offering, so that you can match details of your products or services to the people you want buying them.
4. An Analysis of Your Competition:
You probably aren’t the only people out there who make what you make or do what you do. Collect information on your competitors, so that you can create a “unique selling proposition” that will set you apart from them in your customers’ minds.
5. Your Mission Statement:
Your mission statement should be a couple of sentences that condense the last three points: who you’re selling to, what you’re selling them, and what distinguishes you from your competition.
6. Various Market Strategies:
This is likely to be the most extensive portion of your marketing plan. In it, you will outline each of the marketing strategies you might consider using during a given campaign. These could include B2B networking, direct marketing, advertising, or by creating a striking web page for your product. Digital marketing is becoming increasingly important—just make sure that your page is full of engaging, targeted content.
7. Pricing Projections:
Knowing how much your product or service will cost before you begin marketing it will help you position yourself in the market and raise brand awareness more effectively.
8. Cost Analysis:
Once you know how much your products and services cost, you should be able to budget effectively for your campaign. In turn, establishing a budget will allow you to narrow down the market strategies outlined in Step 6 and choose the ones that are most likely to succeed.
9. Goals of the Marketing Campaign:
How will you know that each of your campaigns has been successful? Will you measure success in terms of new clients, an increase in orders received, or something else?
10. An Evaluation of Your Success:
At the end of the year, look back at the plan you made and conduct a thorough evaluation of what worked and what didn’t. Doing so will help you create an even better plan the year after.
Including the ten areas listed above can turn your marketing plan from a limp daydream into a dynamic tactical map, and help guide your company to greater visibility and increased profits.
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Nick Rojas is a small business consultant and business journalist, currently splitting time between Southern California and Chicago. He is an occasional contributor to ISM’s blog. Please visit Nick’s twitter account: @NickARojas.