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Do You Have A Marketing Plan?

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Do You Have A Marketing Plan?

By Rieva Lesonsky, Guest Blogger
Published: July 1, 2014

Does your small business have a marketing plan? A study by Marketo shows that companies with a documented marketing plan are more likely to be satisfied with their marketing efforts. As you might expect, however, smaller companies are less likely than large ones to have marketing plans. Overall, slightly more than one-third of the companies polled don’t have a marketing plan. But only 56 percent of small businesses (fewer than 50 employees) have one, while among companies with over 1,000 employees, 81 percent have one.

Marketing plans aren’t the only thing that some companies are missing. Although 71 percent of respondents say they sometimes or always meet their marketing goals, 23 percent admit they don't have specific marketing goals. As the saying goes, if you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to get there?

Clearly, creating a marketing plan makes a big difference in achieving your goals. Here’s what you should include in your marketing plan:

1.     Who are your target customers? Do your market research to understand where your target customers live, their demographics (age, sex, marital status, income, etc.), their spending habits and anything else that makes them ideally suited for your product or service.

2.     Who are your competitors? Which companies compete with you for your ideal customers? How do they market themselves, what are their Unique Selling Propositions (USP) and what differentiates your business from theirs? How will you need to market your business to stand out from the competition?

3.     Where do your target customers get their information? To determine what marketing methods and channels will work best for you, you need to know, for example, if your target customers read newspapers or get news online, use social media or don’t even know what that is, watch TV or listen to the radio and what websites/publications/stations they read, watch and listen to.

4.     What are your marketing goals? If you’re launching a brand-new product, your goal might simply be to raise awareness of what you sell and build your brand name. If you’ve got a long-standing business with a well-established brand, your goal could be to sell more to existing customers. Be sure your goals are measurable—not just “to sell more” but “to increase sales to existing customers by 10 percent per quarter” or other specific numbers.

5.     How will you market the business? Based on your understanding of point #3, your marketing plan should list the different marketing and advertising methods you’ll use, such as social media, print advertising, online advertising, event marketing, etc.

6.     What’s your marketing budget? It’s important to set a budget for your marketing plan. Measure what you actually spend against your budget forecast.

7.     How will you measure success and how often? Marketing takes time to work, so don’t assume that a campaign isn’t worth the money if you don’t see immediate results. However, it’s a good idea to measure results quarterly and see which marketing tactics are working best (or not working at all). That way you can redistribute your budget as needed.

Review your overall marketing plan at least once a year. Today, the world of marketing is changing at lightning speed, and your business needs to keep up.

About the Author:

Rieva Lesonsky

Guest Blogger

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and President of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow Rieva at Twitter.com/Rieva and visit SmallBizDaily.com to sign up for her free TrendCast reports. She's been covering small business and entrepreneurial issues for more than 30 years, is the author of several books about entrepreneurship and was the editorial director of Entrepreneur magazine for over two decades

Comments:

Rieva, Thank you for this outline and starting point to develop my marketing plan. I have had formal marketing education in my MBA program but with that nearly 8 years ago a primer like this is wonderful!
Very helpful contribution. Well, as per my view most common factor are Target customers, Marketing budget and Goal. You must focus on these stuff to get success in your marketing strategy.
Marketing Plan is the important factor of any successful business. Before staring business you must create marketing plan. It is map to guide us toward our goals. These points are very helpful to create marketing plan for our business. Thankyou so much for sharing informative article.
I agree with denzelfan that each company must have a marketing plan adjusted specifically for them, but they also could implement some ideas from marketing plans that proved to be successful already in the same business niche. And also even for small companies or medium-sized ones marketing plays an important role nowadays. Let's take for example London, with so big competition smaller businesses should find a creative way to stand out in front of the competition to survive and gain some profit.
I agree with denzelfan that each company must have a marketing plan adjusted specifically for them, but they also could implement some ideas from marketing plans that proved to be successful already in the same business niche. And also even for small companies or medium-sized ones marketing plays an important role nowadays. Let's take for example London, with so big competition smaller businesses should find a creative way to stand out in front of the competition to survive and gain some profit.
You are right. Every one must have a marking plan. It's professional approach. I appreciate your point of view.
Thank you Rieva , Its perfect guideline, sometimes, a person have a good strategies to build up successful business but budget matters a lot. Business analysis and enough budget is must for any new business setup.
Definitely value added points. Especially the last one, measurement! This is true of search advertising (PPC) - I find many folks are not actually measuring their return on investment, rather just throwing money at advertising and not measuring the parts that they can.
Great article :)
This is a concise and well written article. As there are so many ways of marketing, we tend to lose sight of the important issues. I am glad that Rieva has summarized the key issues of what to do for a marketing plan and highlighted them into easy to understand points. Thanks for sharing this wonderful article. Someone once told me that “destiny is mapped at the time of decision”; I am sure that a well thought through marketing plan is pivotal for any business to be successful.

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