A Marketing Plan: Your (not so) Secret Business Growth Tool
In business, it sometimes feels like you are being told you need a plan for every little thing. It’s tempting to throw all those bits of paper out the window and just play it by ear.
But when it comes to marketing, this is one area where the experts are right:
You really do need a marketing plan!
Without one, your business will remain a well-kept secret – and nobody can buy a secret!
That’s all well and good, you say, but what exactly is a marketing plan, why is it so important, and how to create one?
Let’s look at some of those fundamentals, starting with:
What Is A Marketing Plan?
A marketing plan is a document outlining your marketing strategy for a given period.
How long that period is for is up to you and varies depending on your objectives. But as a broad overview, six months to a year is a good chunk of time.
Because marketing has so many different facets, a plan works to synchronise all the moving parts and keep you on track. It means you don’t repeat yourself, go off on a tangent, or forget what you were trying to do in the first place!
Like any good plan, your marketing plan acts as a roadmap to direct your marketing activities and reach your goals.
Not all marketing plans are created equal, and the content will differ for every business. But, most will have the same basic elements, which we’ll go into in a moment.
Why Do You Need A Marketing Plan??
If you are a lover of lists, you’re probably already sold on the idea of a marketing plan.
If not, keep reading, because you’re about to become a fan!
Here are the top six reasons you should create a marketing plan for your business:
1. See the big picture
When you are caught up in the day to day management of your business, it’s easy to lose sight of your long-term vision and purpose. Let’s face it; you don’t have time to sit down every day and figure out what marketing activities to focus on.
That’s why you need a marketing plan with everything laid out. You can quickly be reminded of where you are heading and what’s next.
2. Assign resources wisely
Marketing takes time, money, and energy. These are resources which, unfortunately, are finite!
Without a marketing plan, you might fail to properly allocate one of those resources and find yourself unable to follow through consistently with your marketing. This oversight could have implications for your bottom line.
3. Understand your business better
Creating a marketing plan requires you to do a deep dive into the very heart of your business. You need to discover and define what makes you unique and what you offer customers.
This kind of clarity can only strengthen your business.
4. Be in control
The best thing about planning is that it’s extremely empowering! With a robust roadmap at your side, you can arrive at your desk every day knowing exactly what needs to be done, who’s going to do it, and how to achieve it.
5. Measure your success
No plan is set in stone, and the best plans are those that are reviewed and adjusted.
Part of your marketing plan will involve tracking your return on investment and the success of your various marketing initiatives. This allows you to improve and adapt as you further understand your customer base and see what works and what doesn’t.
6. Save money
Like to think you are a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of entrepreneur? Well, that doesn’t really fly when it comes to marketing.
Without a plan, you are likely to try several different marketing tactics without a clear strategy. The lack of focus ensures a lack of consistency, which is a huge no-no when building your brand. Any money you invest won’t be spent productively, and you will end up right back where you started.
When you have a marketing plan, you maximise every dollar. So, even those on a tight budget can see the benefits.
Different Types Of Marketing Plans
When we talk about marketing, we are covering a broad area with many different facets.
Marketing is an umbrella term that describes the artform of reaching:
- A targeted group of people (your target audience)
- To tell them about your business
- Build trust with that group of people
- So that they know about how your business can help them
- And turn them into customers!
There are many different pieces of the marketing puzzle, and you need to put them all together to achieve your targets.
So, along with your marketing master plan to bring everything together, you may need more specific plans covering the different marketing channels, such as:
- Online marketing – your website, social media pages, digital advertising, email database, and online groups
- Offline marketing – in-person networking, physical marketing products (business cards, flyers etc), signage, traditional advertising methods (print, tv, radio etc)
- Organic marketing – marketing that you don’t have to pay for, such as collaborations, referrals, speaking engagements, podcast appearances etc.
- Paid marketing – where you invest dollars into advertising such as Facebook ads, Google Adwords, running an ad in your local paper etc.
All of these terms can seem overwhelming if you are new to the process of marketing your business. So, to make things easier, I recommend that you start with just three different channels. This provides diversity without becoming overwhelming.
Marketing plans also vary in their depth and design. You can find simple yet effective one-page plans or intricate, detailed multi-page documents delving into every nook and cranny of your strategy.
For most small businesses – especially those just getting started on their marketing journey – a one-page plan is effective.
How To Create A Marketing Plan
We start our marketing plan with the basics.
Before we even consider social media platforms, websites, or any of the marketing channels on offer, it’s essential to get the foundations right.
As I mentioned above, the scope of the plan can vary depending on your needs.
It could be an in-depth outline of your entire marketing strategy or a ‘zoom in’ on one specific channel, like content marketing or social media marketing. It can even narrow down to a specific platform if you want to get really into it, but this isn’t necessary for most small businesses.
The most important thing to remember when creating your marketing plan is to choose a system that you will use!
There’s no point having a ten-page strategy that you are never going to pick up. It is far better to have a one-page outline that you refer to regularly.
While it doesn’t have to take forever, you should set aside a decent amount of time to create your plan. Some areas might require a bit of digging, and you don’t want to rush.
Having a template to work with and knowing the steps to take can make the process much less painful. You can find the perfect template in our Create Magnetic Marketing course right here.
What To Include In Your Marketing Plan
Regardless of the size and scope of your strategy, there are certain elements that should be captured in any marketing plan.
Here are the four fundamentals that should feature in yours:
1. Your dream client
Marketing is not worth your time and effort if you don’t reach the right people with it! So, your perfect marketing plan will be designed to reach and connect with your ideal customer.
If you are unclear on who that ideal customer is, how will you create content that they can relate to?
Getting this part right is an absolutely vital foundation. So, it’s worth spending the time to define exactly who you are trying to attract to your business.
A great way to get clear on this is to create an ideal customer/dream client avatar. Think about who you love to work with and who your business can help the most. What are their problems and how can you provide them with a solution?
Once you have that ideal customer nailed, you can create every piece of your marketing with them in mind.
2. Your desired result
What do you want to achieve with your marketing…
- Brand awareness?
- More leads?
- Business growth?
- Repeat business?
Each of these aspects will require a slightly different tactic. So, once you know who you are marketing to, you need to get clear on your marketing goals.
Then, once those goals are in place, outline how you will measure your success along the way.
3. Your customer pathway
This is the part that many people never consider, but it’s so important to map out the journey your ideal clients will take as they move from first discovering your business to making a purchase.
If you get parts of your pathway wrong, you could be inadvertently bricking over your entranceway. But often, it only takes a few small tweaks to scale up and get better results.
Once again, the design of your customer pathway changes depending on your marketing channel, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution here. You will need to map out an appropriate pathway based on your goals and chosen channel.
Pssst if you’re not familiar with what a customer pathway is, see “Why you need a customer pathway” here…
4. Your marketing channels
Once you have the first three lined up, the last fundamental component of your marketing plan should be more straightforward.
You will be able to select the marketing channels that best suit your ideal customer, help you achieve your desired result, and provide a seamless customer pathway.
There are at least ten different channels to choose from – from social media and email marketing to referral marketing or networking – but I recommend starting with no more than three to avoid overwhelm.
These four fundamentals form the foundations of your one-page marketing plan.
With this in hand, you will be ready to start attracting your ideal customers and growing your business!
Are You Ready To Create An Amazing Marketing Plan?
Now you can see that a marketing plan isn’t something you can skip in your business. If you want to attract customers, build your brand, and grow your business, you need to spend a bit of time strategising.
But how much time?
Well, you could spend days trying to put it together yourself (based on a bunch of guesswork and YouTubing).
Or, you could have it nailed in less than an hour if you sign up to the Create Magnetic Marketing course!
This course will take you through everything you need to know to produce a personalised marketing plan with no-fuss.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a well-established business looking to scale or a start-up. The Magnetic Marketing Course can help you attract more customers and increase sales.
Instead of trying to figure it all out alone, you will save time and learn the fundamentals of creating a one-page marketing plan. It even includes how to do a mini-marketing audit to see what’s working (or not!)
About the author:
Kat Soper is the Founder and Head Trainer of The Helpful Academy Online Business School.
Kat is passionate about helping start-ups and small businesses succeed and achieve their business goals so that they can achieve the lifestyle they desire (and deserve).