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Content Guide

Introduction

When you have a business, you should already know that you should have a top-notch marketing plan in place. After all, a marketing plan isn’t only something you need when you’re applying for financing.

If you’re wondering exactly what marketing is, it is defined as:

The various activities that a business participates in so that their product, good, or service can be promoted successfully.

Indeed, marketing encompasses various methods of promotion and advertising to sell your product or service. To do this, you have to have a definitive plan of action.

For this plan to be successful, it needs to have the following components:

State Your Business Goals Clearly

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The goals for your business have to be stated clearly in an easy-to-understand manner. Always make sure these goals are time-based so that you can measure them properly.

You should also use the SMART method of devising your business goals:

 

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time

In other words, never be vague with your goals. They need to be as specific as possible because if they aren’t, you won’t be able to accurately measure how close you’ve come to attaining them.

Instead of something like, “we want to be number-one in the market by XYZ year,” you can say something like, “we want to increase our sales by 10% in the second year of business, 20% in the third,” and so on. The more specific, the better.

Implement the SWOT Analysis

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SWOT is short for:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

To do this, you start by looking at your competitive position. Making sure you know where you’re starting from is the first step in deciding what to do to meet your goals.

Look at your current position and the messages you’re portraying to potential customers. Is it clear enough, or does it need some improvement?

When you think of “threats,” this simply means, what are your competitors doing that may give them an edge over your own marketing efforts? If your competitors are way ahead of you, you need to figure out why so that you can devise a better plan.

You can think of this step as your starting point. Until you analyze where you’re succeeding and where you aren’t, your marketing plan isn’t going to be as detailed as it would otherwise.

Determine Your Budget

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When determining your budget, you not only need to come up with a specific amount, but you need to make sure the percentage of your sales devoted to marketing isn’t too high.

How high is too high? The US Small Business Administration (SBA) makes the following recommendations:

  • An average business: 7% to 8% of your sales number
  • A “high cost of goods sold” industry, such as construction: 4% to 5% of your sales number
  • Packaged goods for consumers: in the 20% range

As you can see, spending 50% of your sales on marketing and promotion isn’t a good idea. Then again, neither should that number be 1% to 2%.

Remember to take into account digital advertising and promotion because your marketing plan should always include all types of promotion and marketing.

Of course, since your budget for promotion is based on your sales, the number might be low in the beginning. Just remember that this isn’t an area you want to be skimpy with; otherwise, your business is certain not to grow like it should.

Get to Know Your Customers

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This is where some marketing research comes into play. You need to know all about your customers, including their age, gender, location, motivation for buying your product or service, their behavior, concerns, and so on.

Just how do you find out this information? You can get it from studying trends and conferences, questionnaires, online reports, and many other in-person and online tools.

The thing is, the more research you do on your potential customers, the more you’ll get to know them. Once you do that, you can easily develop a plan to give them what they want.

One more thing: if you interview potential customers, don’t ask hypothetical questions. After all, you want details that are based on fact, so only ask specific questions that will present you with facts and not the “what ifs.”

Develop the Right Number of Marketing Goals

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Not only should marketing goals be specific and detailed, but there needs to be neither too many or too few of them. Devising three to five specific goals is perfect because it provides you with enough goals to make a difference but not so many that you’re overwhelmed.

Remember your SMART acronym when developing your goals. If you need a marketing plan example for this step, you should be able to find some templates online.

Just remember that for all of the goals you devise, you have to have a way to measure them. You also have to make sure they are realistic and that you can meet those goals within the time frame that you want.

When you think about it, developing your marketing goals is likely the most important part of your marketing plan because this is the “meat” of this report. 

Devise the Specific Activities You’ll Be Participating in

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All promotional plans consist of more than one method of promoting your product or service. In other words, radio advertising, digital marketing, or any other method you choose to promote your product shouldn’t be the only method you use to get the job done.

In fact, most successful businesses use a combination of promotional methods to grow their business, which can include:

  • Website or blog advertising
  • Trade shows and conventions
  • Social media advertising
  • TV and/or radio advertising
  • Ads in local publications

Depending on what your product or service is, you might end up spending more in one of these areas than you do in the others. This is fine because let’s face it, it doesn’t make sense that every method you choose will end up costing the exact same amount.

In fact, a good mix of all of your promotional options usually works out best. This way, if one method doesn’t produce the results you expected, the other methods will usually pick up the slack.

Get Advice From the Experts

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Especially if this is the first time you’ve developed a promotional plan, you shouldn’t be embarrassed about asking for assistance. People who have already developed a great marketing plan can give you tips and suggestions you’ve likely never thought of.

Even though you are the one responsible for the outcome of this plan, you can still get insights and tips from the people who have been doing this much longer than you have. 

After all, why reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to? If someone else’s marketing and promotional plan has worked for them, it might just work for you, too.

Get inspiration here: How a Startup Courier Company Boost Business with Outsourcing

 

Conclusion

A good marketing strategy isn’t as difficult to come up with as you might think, especially when there are companies that you can outsource to provide you with details on how to best accomplish this. 

Promotion, marketing, and advertising are all parts of the same business plan because they all work toward the same goal: making sure your business grows and thrives.

Before your business grows, however, people have to know that your product or service is available to them. With the right marketing plan, that’s exactly what will happen, and it’s a lot easier to devise these plans than you think.

Want to create your first marketing plan but don’t know how to start? Click here.

If you want to know more about business and marketing, we have plenty of resources for you: