Marketing is no longer something to just consider when growing a business. Marketing is now an essential piece for success, but planning for growth and success doesn’t just happen overnight. Your small business’ marketing plan is two things: (1) a blueprint for you and your employees to follow; and (2) a selling document for your company. If thought out and put together correctly, your business’ marketing plan will be your roadmap to success.
In your marketing plan, you need to have business goals and strategies to achieve them. Here are some of the major components you should include in the marketing plan for your small business.
Executive Summary – While the executive summary is at the beginning of your plan, it is the last section that should be put together. It’s an overview of your entire marketing strategy. This section gives employees, investors, advisors, etc. a chance to see what you plan to do, minus all of the details.
Target Customers – Identifying who you want to reach is a major starting point. You and your constituents need to know the demographic (e.g., age, gender, status) and psychographic (e.g., interests and motivators) profiles of your targeted customers. Understanding this will help form marketing and advertising efforts.
Product and Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – What are you selling? Is it a product? A service? How is it relevant to your market? Is there a need for it? Does something similar exist in your market? Determine what needs your product satisfies within its target market and identify the features that distinguish your product and company from competitors.
Price & Position – The pricing and positioning of your product must be aligned. If you want to have a value product, setting the price too high will give your customers the impression that you have a premier product. Look at other key players in your market and determine your price and position in comparison to theirs.
Competitors – In order to play a game, you need to know what the rules are and who you’re playing against. You have to analyze what others are doing so you know what to do and what not to do. You don’t want to have a product so similar to another that consumers won’t know the difference between the two. You have to know who they are targeting and how they are reaching them so that you can either target a different group, or aim for the same one and use a better strategy.
Promotion & Branding – You have to decide how you want to build awareness for your brand. In this section, choose from all the promotional alternatives – TV advertising, radio advertising, print, digital, trade show marketing, press releases, event marketing, etc. – that best suits your product, target market and position.
Online Marketing Strategies – While this may not have been as important before, digital marketing is now an essential piece of any marketing plan. More consumers are online, whether on a PC, mobile phone or tablet, so that’s where your business needs to be, too. Identify the keywords you want to rank for in search engine results, determine what paid advertising programs you want to use (i.e., Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads, etc.), and define your business’ social media marketing plan.
Marketing Goals – This is where you determine how you want to measure the success of your campaigns. Your marketing goals might include a number of things: sales, revenue, customer satisfaction, website traffic, social media followers, etc. Establish quantifiable and realistic goals, then monitor and measure performance.
Budget – One of the more important pieces of a marketing plan is the budget. How much can you really afford to put into your marketing efforts? Where is this money coming from? Are you using business loans, investor money, or working capital? If needed, consider getting business financing to cover your marketing needs.
While there are essential pieces to a marketing plan, sections and components will vary for every business, depending on its needs. These pieces will also change constantly. As technology changes, consumers change; as consumers change, ways to reach them and satisfy their needs also change. No marketing plan is ever written in stone, so don’t be too concerned if you see that your business is starting to take a different route from the roadmap.