Marketing connects your business with new or existing customers to promote a product or service that may satisfy their needs and wants, with the ultimate goal being to generate sales and increase revenue.
A marketing plan outlines the actionable steps you need to take toward achieving this goal. More specifically, learning how to write a marketing plan can help you allocate resources as you reach, convert, and retain the largest potential pool of customers.
No matter what type of business you have – whether a restaurant, retail shop, or professional service – a marketing plan is an essential tool for growth and success. Below are seven marketing plan steps to help you get started.
1. Turn on analytics
The first step to successful marketing involves enabling reporting for your business to track the efficacy of your marketing plan steps and digital performance over time. Free tools such as Google Analytics exist for this purpose.
Even if your business relies exclusively on in-person sales or print advertising, being able to measure your website’s organic traffic is a good proxy for the overall effectiveness of your digital marketing efforts.
Enable Google Analytics (or any comparable service) to start learning how many people visit your site, which pages they land on, and how much time they spend on your content.
2. Write a mission statement
Businesses aim to sell products or services that solve issues for their customers. In your mission statement, clearly outlinewhy you exist and what pain points your business is trying to solve.
Any size or type of business can benefit from this marketing plan step. A mission statement not only benefits your marketing plan, but it can also help align employees to work toward a common goal and guide your business decisions as you grow.
3. Create customer personas
It is important to clearly define whom you’re serving. Oftentimes, entrepreneurs might mistakenly believe that everyone is a potential customer; however, this isn’t always the best strategy, since you may end up spreading resources too thin.
Instead, create customer personas for your ideal target market. Personas are fictional profiles that represent the types of buyers to whom you’re trying to market. Be sure to provide as much demographic, geographic, and socioeconomic detail as possible. The more specific these personas are, the easier it can be to reach and convert those customers.
4. Analyze services and delivery
Before spending money on any future marketing plan steps, it’s important to take stock of what products and services you provide and how customers will be able to discover, evaluate, and receive your offering.
This analysis should include aspects such as:
Equipment and materials
Staff and customer service
Hours and locations
Pricing, refunds, and returns
Most of the distinguishing factors that might separate you from competitors will likely fall under one of the above areas. Take the time to carefully analyze where you already have (or could soon develop) an edge.
Speaking of competitors…
5. Study the competition
Few businesses exist in isolation. That’s because profits attract more competition. This makes it crucial to understand what you’re up against – and what aspects of your business separate you from the pack.
In short, people need a reason to purchase from you – instead of your brick-and-mortar competitor up the street (or from an eCommerce merchant on the other side of the globe).
Study your competitors’ websites; see how they’re engaging with customers on social media; find out which trade shows and conferences they’ll be attending. You may also be able to gather intel from data analytics software embedded in your physical or cloud-based point-of-sale solution.
You might be tempted to pursue each of these channels simultaneously. That said, not all marketing strategies are created equal, and it’s important to choose whatever methods appeal most to your customer base. For example, do your customers respond better to social media advertisements or direct mail?
If you will be selling to other businesses, you may want to consider creating white papers, press releases, or other marketing assets that might resonate with corporate decision-makers.
This is where those customer personas come into the picture. The more accurate these personas are, the easier it becomes to learn where potential customers congregate – and what delivery channels and messaging are most likely to reach them at the right time.
7. Track your progress
A marketing plan isn’t something to set up and implement once. Rather, it is an ongoing process that requires constant tweaking.
This is where analytics and tracking come into focus once more. Whether you run digital, social, or print marketing campaigns, it’s important to track the overall performance of each campaign to determine what generates the best customer engagement and results in the most conversions.
This analysis will help you allocate your resources to setting up campaigns that will help you achieve your revenue goals.
Need additional marketing and business solutions?
We hope you found these steps on how to write a marketing plan helpful. If you’re looking for additional resources regarding marketing or business management solutions, we’re here to help.
This information is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial, or tax advice. Readers should contact their attorneys, financial advisors, or tax professionals to obtain advice with respect to any particular matter.