Five steps for creating a solid marketing plan

For growing businesses, creating a marketing plan that works and gets you noticed is absolutely crucial to your success. So to keep you on track, we’ve outlined some key recommendations.

(1) Define what sets you apart

Firstly, and most importantly, discovering what sets your brand apart from your competitors needs to be at the basis of all of your marketing plan.

Whether you are the more affordable option, the most experienced, or offer something that no other company has, finding this unique selling point is the first step in creating a marketing plan that works.

(2) Identify your audience

Once you have your unique selling point, you can define who your target audience is. While it may be tempting to generalise and say that your product will appeal to “everyone”, having real audience personas in place will help you develop effective marketing strategies going forward.

Things to consider include their social and economic status, interests and how customers typically consume their media. Create an analysis of your potential audience and refer back to it every time you start a new campaign.

(3) List your goals and develop your strategies to suit them

Setting out real world objectives is an important step in putting together your marketing strategy. Whether you want to increase sales by 25 per cent in the first six months, or have a certain number of subscribers after a quarter, understanding your KPIs lets you design strategies to fit them.

From there, you can decide on what marketing channels to use and how, keeping in mind to target buyers at each stage of the sales cycle.

Whether it is direct email marketing, social media advertising or more traditional methods, your ultimate goal should always be front of mind.

(4) Decide on a budget

Some businesses still see certain forms of digital marketing as ‘free’, but as social media and websites find more ways to monetise their platforms, this sentiment is becoming increasingly further from the truth.

As Bill Gates famously said: “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on PR”. Marketing is essential to the success of any business and investing in marketing, whether traditional or digital, is a must.

Create a realistic budget by devoting a percentage of your projected gross sales to your marketing spend. Even the smallest of budgets can go far if used in the right way.

As your company grows, so your marketing budget will be able to expand.

(5) Action and review

Finally, once your foundations are in place it’s time to start rolling out your marketing plan. It’s always important to have someone overseeing the strategy who can then allocate different tasks and tactics to members of the team.

Whether your marketing tactic is based around a certain campaign or is more long-running, be sure to revisit your plan each quarter to make sure you’re moving in the right direction.

If a certain tactic isn’t working as well as you’d hoped, have another brainstorm meeting with your team and adjust your course.

There are no quick and fast rules when it comes to marketing success, but by putting these best practices in place, you will be able to create the foundation for a strong marketing plan that you can tweak as you go.

Robin Sumner is the MD at direct mail marketing company Romax

Image: Shutterstock

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