Last week, we introduced you to the 10 key components of a marketing plan. Each are important, and deserve time and consideration.
Details of the 10 components of a marketing plan
How will your marketing plan support your business goals? Before you start developing your marketing plan, you need to have a very clear idea of what you want to accomplish. This is your marketing strategy, and it is directly related to your business goals and objectives. Your marketing strategy outlines what you need to do in order to achieve your business goals, and the marketing plan provides the details on how you will do it.
What are you trying to accomplish, and why? Your mission statement answers the questions: What are you trying to do? Why you are doing it? You may have already created a mission statement as part of your planning process. If so, you will want to add it to your marketing plan. In your marketing plan, your mission statement is the foundation. Although it may not play a direct role in your marketing activities, your mission statement focuses on your business goals and helps you make sure that the marketing activities you conduct support the business’s overall objectives. You can refer to your mission statement as a beacon guiding you to your destination. Refer back to it whenever you start to question if you are still on the right track.
Who are you trying to reach with your marketing activities? Your target market is the specific audience – the ideal customer – you want to reach with your products and services; the group you will be attempting to sell to. The more details you include as you answer this question, the more targeted your marketing plan will be.
It’s helpful to create a sketch of the person or business that you would consider your “ideal customer.” Not only can this help you identify specifics about them, but it can also help you personalize your marketing messaging.
Who are you up against, and where do you rank? One of the best ways to research your target market and prepare your own marketing activities is to snoop your competition. You should know who is out there selling something similar to what you are selling, especially if they are selling it to consumers that fit your ideal customer profile. Take a hard look at what they are doing right, and what they may be doing wrong.
Conducting a thorough analysis of your competition will help you identify areas where you can beat the competition, fine-tune your niche market, and make sure you are prepared to address the challenge posed by your competition.
What makes your business unique? Once you know what you’re up against in the market and with your competition, you need to identify the approach that will set you apart from everyone else. What makes your business, products and services unique and desirable to your target market? A value proposition is a statement that outlines how your business, products or services deliver value to your customers, and what makes your business unique. It identifies what makes your business the better choice, and why your target clients should choose you over the competition – how are you uniquely solving customer pain?
What will you charge, and why? If you are writing a traditional business plan, then you have already spent a great deal of time researching the best price point for your products and services. Now, it’s time to relate that pricing information to your marketing activities.
One of the most important factors to evaluate is how you will work your pricing strategy into your marketing message. In most cases, you want to be able to support the price points you have chosen by providing your customers with a clear idea of the value and benefits they will get in return. A high value proposition is often the factor that leads a customer to the decision to purchase.
How will you reach your target market? As a key element of the marketing mix your promotional plan covers all of the communication that will take place with the consumer. Essentially, your promotional plan answers the question: How will you get the word out about your value proposition to your target market? Your promotional plan should combine a variety of inbound and outbound marketing activities. While you don’t want to throw too many variations into your promotional plan in the beginning, you should start by selecting 3-5 specific activities that will help you execute the marketing strategy that you outlined in the first step.
How much money will you spend, and on what? As you outline a promotional plan, you will need to have a budget in place, so you can determine which activities you can afford while staying within your budget. Unfortunately, most new small businesses have a limited budget when it comes to marketing, so creating a promotional plan that works with the funds you have available is vital.
You may have an annual marketing budget, but it will also be necessary to break it down into separate monthly budgets so you can track results and modify the promotional plan to focus on the activities that provide you with the biggest return on investment.
What tasks do you need to complete to reach your marketing goals? Outlining exactly what you need to do and when you need to do it is an important part of your marketing plan. This will become your task list that guides you through every one of your promotional activities. Your action steps will help you stay on track so you can make consistent progress, without having to regroup and recreate the wheel every time you’re ready to take a step. To create your marketing plan action list, you will follow the same process you use when you manage your regular daily tasks: You will take the end goal, and break it down into a series of single-step tasks that will lead you to achieving your goal.
Each action item should also include a due date that works with the timeline you created for your marketing plan. And typically, the smaller the steps, the easier it will be for you to complete tasks and build momentum.
What results have you achieved, and where can you improve? All of this work you’ve put into creating a marketing plan for your small business will go out the window if you can’t track and measure the results of your activities. This step will allow you to take your marketing plan from a one-time, static document into a breathing blueprint that will grow and develop with your business.
The way you track and measure your results will depend on the type of marketing tactics you engage in. In general, the more standardized your system for tracking, the more relevant your results will be – and the more successful you will become at tailoring your marketing activities to focus on the areas where you will have the most success.