How to write a marketing plan

So you’ve started a new business, you need customers, how are you going to get them? You are definitely going to need a website – right? and business cards? social media? How do you know? Let’s assume you have a limited marketing budget, you want to be absolutely sure you are spending your money on the right things, so the best place to start is with a marketing plan.

Your marketing plan doesn’t need to be a huge complicated document, but it does help to get your thoughts down on paper and be clear about what you need and what you don’t need. Here are some easy steps to get going

Step One: Set your Goals

Actually this might just be one goal, but it is good to be specific. Perhaps you want 5 new customers in the next 6 months. Maybe you have a new product or service and want to raise awareness, so a 50% increase in social media followers will be your goal. Whatever it is make sure you put a number on it.

Step Two: Define your Target Audience

You may think that ‘anyone’ could buy your product and service, but it is unlikely that you have the budget to appeal to everyone, so refine your target audience. This doesn’t mean you are excluding people from buying what you sell, but you are targeting your marketing efforts to specific people. As a minimum decide on:

  • Age
  • Income
  • Geography

If you can start to build a profile of what these people are like, where do they shop, what do they read, what are their hobbies….the more you can fill this out the better your ROI will be.

Step Three: Do your research

Check out the competition. Use google to find out who else is doing what you do. How much do they charge? What sort of marketing methods are they using? What is their branding like? See what you like and what you don’t like. Sign up to their newsletters, follow their social media profiles. This way you will keep getting information on what they are doing.

Step Four: Figure out your Unique Selling Points

What is unique about your business? Why did you get into it? What do you love about what you do? These USPs will help you to develop a unique strategy. What is the problem you solve for your customer?

Step Five: Decide how you will measure success

If you are having a website make sure you get an analytics package, so you can see if your efforts are working. Take time out each month to look at your stats – email marketing, social media – whatever it is make sure you know whether it is working.

Step Six: Pick your tactics and make a plan

Based on your USPs, Target Audience and Goals decide what you need to do. For example; if you are meeting people face to face then you will need business cards, but if your business is all online you probably won’t. If you are starting a small B2C business you may not need a website to start with – a great Facebook page could be enough. Put a plan together for a quarter, six months or a year. Pop it in your diary so you make sure you carry out all the actions required and then assess!