Businesses need to come up with ideas that will help ensure that they remain relevant in the industry, as well as make sure that they are able to stay ahead of their competition. They need to do as much market research as they possibly can to gain the information that they need. You may also see plan samples.
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Once they are able to gather all of the information that they require, then they have to use it to come up with a good marketing plan that will ensure their success. This article is going to focus on how you can make your own efficient marketing plan that should be able to help you out with your own business.
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How to create a marketing plan
A marketing plan is basically what outlines all the goals that you want to achieve as well as the methods on how you wish to achieve them for the coming year. This will include information such as who you are going to market to, how you are going to market to them, and the strategies that will allow you to connect with customers as well as attract sales. The goal of your marketing plan is to outline how you are going to sell both your products and your services to your target market. So here are some steps that should help you create your own effective and efficient marketing plan:
Consider the goals of your company
The goal of an analysis is for you to get a good understanding of the current market situation. From this point, you will be able to identify the changes that need to be made. Begin by looking at your company’s goals and mission. In the event that your company does not have one, then you have to create one and make sure that it is clear. Once you have done that, determine whether the company’s marketing plan is going to help meet these goals.
Examine your advantages and disadvantages within the market
You have to learn about important things such as what is attracting customers to your business and why other customers are attracted to your competitors. You have to know the strengths of your business so that you can capitalize on it. You should also learn its weaknesses so that you know the different problems that your business faces, as well as find the right solutions to solve these problems.
- Come up with concrete, definitive strengths and advantages that customers will face whenever they interact with you and your business. These are the internal characteristics of the company, and they are what determines a customer’s level of satisfaction.
- Your business should be able to distinguish itself from the rest of the competition. This may be tied to your strengths, or it may just be a fact of doing business with your company. But if you want customers to go over to you instead of your competitors, then you need to figure out what you should do in order to pull them in.
- Potential strengths could be things like low cost, excellent customer service, user friendliness, or even speed.
- You should never take your company’s weaknesses for granted. These are also internal characteristics that matter to the people that do business with your company. Once you have identified weaknesses, you should begin planning ways to address those issues. If you do not, then these weaknesses are definitely going to be a problem.
Research your target market
It is important to know who you are trying to sell your products and services to in order for you to market them. Knowing your target market and their needs will allow you to know the kind of products that you want to advertise as well as how you are going to advertise them. If you do not know the target market of your business, then you cannot effectively communicate how your products and services are going to meet their needs.
- Conduct demographic research. You want to know the age, gender, location, and the income of the people who are going to do business with you. You also want to know the psychology of your customers.
- You should make sure that you do proper research on your competition. You have to find something that is unique to your company that will give you an edge over the rest of your competition. Plus, you should know things such as the prices that your competition offers to their customers and their turnaround times. Knowing the competition’s strengths and weaknesses is one of the best things you can do to help you get ahead and make sure that your business is the one that is on top of your industry.
Know all about external opportunities and threats
These are the external characteristics of your company, and these are all determined by your competition, by fluctuating market factors, and by your customers or clients. Your goal here is to look at all the different factors that could affect your business and adjust your market plan accordingly.
- You should start by analyzing the market trends. You need to see the shifts in what your customers want, and what they expect from your company.
- Take a look at the financial trends that may affect you such as the rise of virtual payment methods or the current inflation rates.
- You have to be aware that tight government finances are going to make your customers and clients more concerned when it comes to the matter of cost. Both your business strategy and marketing plan should focus on how you can provide products that are low in cost and excellent in quality to your customers.
Send surveys through email
If you have a broad and dedicated client base, then you should definitely consider sending out market surveys. This will allow you to create polls based on your strengths and weaknesses. You will then gain information directly from your customers. You can build your marketing plan around your strengths and know what assets of your business you have to emphasize. Even knowing what weaknesses you have is very useful as you can utilize this information to help you figure out what you need to do in order to fix certain problems within your company.
- Be sure to keep your surveys or questionnaires as short and as simple as possible. Your customers might have some input that they would like to share with you, but they would not want to do it if it means taking up so much of their time and effort. Aim for a survey that would fit on an index card or a half sheet of paper. But if you have to make it longer, make sure your survey is only around two pages maximum. Anything beyond that will just make your customers feel like they are doing a chore.
- Consider a short-answer format instead of a simple multiple-choice survey. You can certainly incorporate a few multiple-choice questions if you like, but make sure that you also provide open-ended questions. You do not want the customer to just say “yes” or “no” to the questions that you come up with. You want them to provide you with enough information that will help you gauge your existing customers’ level of satisfaction while also gathering information on what your strengths and weaknesses are. So think about your questions carefully and try to make sure that the customer does not have to give too long of a response.
- Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope. You want to make the experience as easy as it should be for the customer.
- You should not forget to take into account the costs of both printing out and mailing the surveys and then factor that into your existing budget.
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Conduct email surveys
These can be very useful if you have a list of all the email addresses of your current customers, which you might have collected anyway for contact purposes or even for your company’s monthly newsletters. If you have your customers’ email addresses, then you need to ask them questions as you would in a mailed survey. However, the huge risk factor to this is that your email surveys may be relegated to the customer’s spam folder. There is really no way for you to figure out just how many of your email surveys were received by the customer and there is also no way to know if the customers will bother to fill out the surveys even if they were received. This is just the sort of risk that you have to take if ever you should decide to do this.
Conduct phone surveys
This may be a bit difficult to do as there are a lot of people who feel really annoyed whenever they have to pick up the phone to do a survey. But if your business relies on person-to-person communication, then that means you are definitely going to have to conduct a phone survey. You can ask many of the same questions that you would in a written survey. The questions that you should consider asking these customers should be based on what they think about your business’ strengths and weaknesses, and whether or not your customers are willing to recommend your business to other people.
- The downside to a phone interview, aside from the possible fact that you could be bothering and annoying the other person on the other end of the line, is that you will not have the customer’s responses in front of you like you would with a written survey. If you plan on using this method, then you need to have a fast writer or typist on hand to transcribe your customers’ responses over the phone. This may require you to hire additional personnel that can aid you in conducting phone interviews as well as writing down all of the responses of the customers, the results of which will all be listed down and compiled into a spreadsheet or a catalog of feedback.
Conduct personal interviews
You do not have to be thorough when you use this method. You can simply do this by having a chat with the customer while you are trying to process their order or when you are assisting them in getting whatever they need.. But face-to-face communication could be a great way to poll clients and learn about what you can do to improve the quality of your business.
- Just like phone interviews, a personal interview will require you to take down whatever feedback your customers are going to give you.This does not make it an ineffective or impossible plan to implement; it just means that you are going to have to plan ahead time if ever you are going to take this route.
Gather your information
Review all of the surveys that you were able to conduct and, from there, determine how you would like your business to grow. Compare this with any real-world obstacles such as current and projected market trends, forecasted expenses that may arise in the near future, what geographic region and demographics your business has had the most success with, and any other competitors within the same industry that also operate within the same region or one who has the same target demographics.
While you are moving forward with your marketing plan, assign specific roles to those employees who share the responsibility for the marketing of your business. Determine who would be the best fit for each role within your marketing plan, and then define all the duties and responsibilities for each. You also need to determine how to measure the success of each of the assigned roles.
Declare your marketing goals
What is your business trying to achieve with the development of the marketing plan? Is the main point of this plan to broaden your customer base? To let both your existing and potential customers know all about the new products and services that you are trying to promote? To expand your region or demographic? Or do you have an entirely different reason for your marketing plan? Whatever the goals of your business may be, that is what is going to drive your marketing plan.
- Your marketing goals should fit within your larger business goals.
- When developing your marketing goals, you have to make sure they are attainable as well as reasonable. Otherwise, it will be difficult to interpret your sales, and in the end, it may not be clear what strategies or approaches were the most effective.
- Use outcomes like increased sales, the increased number of units that were either sold or manufactured, increased public awareness, or the number of new accounts for every client as factors when judging success.
Determine how you are going to reach your prospects
Your marketing plan should be able to cover all of the three customer prospects: cold prospects (people who have no idea about your business but can be reached via advertisements or direct marketing), warm prospects (those who are familiar with your business or those who have been exposed to the different ads that you have set up), and hot prospects (interested customers or clients who know about your company and who are more than willing to do business with you). You need to come up with a lot of good ideas in order for you to reach all of your prospects, which may play a role in determining which marketing strategies you employ.
Develop marketing strategies to meet your goals
After you have finished deciding what your marketing goals and prospects are, the next thing that you have to do is to go through with the thought process that will help you determine how you can meet your goals and reach your prospects. There are a lot of different types of marketing strategies that you can use, but the most common examples are the following:
- Social promotions are almost always successful. That is because this type of strategy promotes your business while at the same time gets your customers excited about the products and services you offer. These contests can be done in-store or through social media, and they usually involve offering a form of reward to these customers in exchange for following you in social media or frequenting your business.
- Consider paying for a short-term sponsorship from a reputable person or a group of people who frequently use your business’ products and services. These endorsements can even be done entirely online through social media. While this strategy can be quite expensive, it has proven to be quite useful and successful for a majority of businesses around the world.
- Having in-store events is a great way to bring in customers. This can come in the form of a social activity, a party, or any other event that is aimed at impressing both your customers and your clients, motivating your staff, or increasing your exposure.
Set a budget for your plan
You may have some great ideas on how you are going to get customers interested in your brand, but if your budget is limited then you need to rethink your entire strategy or at least adjust it to meet your budget. Your budget should be realistic and it should reflect both the current state of your business and the potential growth of your company in the near future.
If you would like to know more about how to create a marketing plan or anything related to the topic (such as how you can update your business marketing plan), then be sure to keep reading our articles.