Once you have done your research it’s time to get serious about what you want to achieve and how you plan on getting it. The classic saying goes; “if you fail to plan you can plan on failing” even though this is a historical statement it is still appropriate in today’s ever changing environment...
The Marketing Plan
Once you have done your research it’s time to get serious about what you want to achieve and how you plan on getting it. The classic saying goes; “if you fail to plan you can plan on failing” even though this is a historical statement it is still appropriate in today’s ever changing environment.
In its most basic form, a marketing plan works alongside having established who your customers are, where they get information from and how you are going to reach them. It is crucial that you identify any issues within your business, being honest with what hasn’t worked in the past, and what internal issues you may have to clear up before you can seek advancements in your clientele and your marketing.
A good, solid foundation for a marketing plan comes from your initial research. In our previous blog post, “Marketing Research: The 4P’s”
, you should have clearly established who your competitors are and where you stand in the market. As well as defining what it is you are selling and who you are trying to sell to. Establishing this clear vision around the 4P’s is the core of your marketing plan – it allows you to take a step back and highlight areas of weakness or concern that could use further marketing development.
A value added extra within a marketing plan is that of establishing a clear brand persona through imagery, symbols, colours and a general ‘feel’ of what you would like to be portrayed as; generally this ‘brand personality’ will reflect your key target market:
Branding. What is your businesses’ personality? How do you think you are portrayed in your customers mind? What do you want them to feel and think when they see your logo or hear your advertisement? A customers evoked set will strongly affect whether they purchase from you or not (the first brand that pops into their mind for a certain product, i.e. toothpaste = Colgate) so the trick is to work your way into being near the middle – not necessarily the first, but your brand is still recognised and favoured over other competitors.
For your marketing plan it is important to analyse aspects of your fundamental branding, whether you are just starting out, or you’re rejuvenating your business: Examples may include:
- What is in your logo?
- Colours and themes used crossing into your other marketing material (websites and brochures)
- Slogans and taglines
- Instagram layouts and themes crossed over the entire platform – uniformity
Once you have a firm idea of your initial 4P’s and your brand identity, your marketing plan will evolve into something tangible; a timeline with clear objectives. The easiest way to set this out, is through the 5 – 2 – 12 system:
5 – Distant future goals for 5 years
- This is in less detail to that of the 12 month plan, and is simply a long term indication of where you think your business should have gotten to within that time.
2 – Looking ahead by 2 years: Where do you want to stand in the market place in 2 years’ time?
- These objectives will be in lesser detail to those is your annual plan, but allows you to continue to evolve coming up to the end of that first year and assess how well your first year has been in comparison to your longer term goals.
12 – Your detailed tasks over the next 12 months
- A good way to set up your initial short term marketing objectives is through the use of a Gantt chart, or other visual calendars for a 12 month period. Being able to physically see when you should be doing something and aiming for a date, is a very effective and efficient way to manage your time and ‘mini-marketing-goals’
- Through the short term timeline, you should also establish a 12 week schedule to be able to visually see what is needed and when. This is a good way to estimate your budgets as well and tie in with what you can realistically afford over a 4 month period.
Once your longer term goals are set, you can now get into the nitty-gritty of your 12 month plan and establish your budget by analysing what mediums you are going to use. You will soon realise (if you haven’t already), that different types of marketing mediums will offer different results, for different values. Many of which may be out of your annual budget. Creating a sustainable budget will have a lot to do with your decisions and contains differing factors of your industry, market size, and business maturity:
- For a start-up SME; how much do you have to spend on marketing vs. how much capital do you actually have access to? Start small and look into ‘free marketing’; such as PR, content marketing, social media and networking.
- For an existing company; what have you been spending your money on? And how much of it is being wasted? Once again, look to your competitors here and analyse what their annual spend is utulising. Building up your database and communications can also be an inexpensive way to access a lot more potential and current customers that you are not meeting the needs of, and could be.
- For a large business; you would be looking into what media to add to the above and the benefits of using them to captivate a larger audience.
One of the biggest things for a company to stress over is that it may all seem like too much. That’s why breaking everything down into 12 month and even further into 12 week plans, makes tasks seem more manageable. It also helps to instead of looking at your annual budget as just that, to break it into monthly budgets, and then allocate the funds as applicable.
You also need to establish what you consider success to be. What is the purpose of your marketing plan? Gain more customers? Increase awareness? Increase sales in a product line? Once you implement your marketing initiatives you need to have systems in place to measure the outcomes related to your goals.
Implementation is key. Once again, there is no point putting together a marketing plan if you are not going to do anything about it, and there is really no sure-fire way to ensure your success without having a plan. Success and planning go hand in hand, and it is very rare that you have one without the other.