An efficient marketing plan is critical for the success of any business venture, but especially any small business. In today’s ultra-competitive market, any small business would need an all-encompassing marketing plan to grab a good enough market share.
Many small businesses leave their marketing for the last moment and go without any particular plan. A bit of brand building, advertising, and sales, but not nearly enough.
The lack of a marketing plan wastes many resources (material and human) and, in the long run, a lot of money. A good marketing plan sets you up with achievable goals, plans out the effort you need to put in, and measures your progress against that target.
That’s why you need to cover all the elements in a marketing plan so that it can adapt according to the situation. These elements can be derived from basic principles of marketing, and they apply to any sort or size of business.
Some of the essential elements of marketing are:
- Research about the market and Objectives
Research is the foundation of any marketing plan. Read market reports, collect data, and know the general purchasing habits of the particular industry and their market size, past declines and growth patterns, and current trends.
Then, all that research needs to be implemented in some pragmatic and realistic targets you can follow for the whole year. Finally, the marketing plan must go hand-in-hand with your business goals and practices. A well-rounded plan will take in various aspects, like the product or service you want to sell, the location and the style of selling, and how aware your target audience is about your business.
The most common objectives for a marketing plan are an increase in sales and the organic growth of customers.
- The target audience
An effective marketing plan must be built around what your potential buyers are like, who they are, and what they want. Additionally, at the very least, you should incorporate 2 or 3 layers of segmentation in your target audience.
Another important aspect you need to keep in mind is the characteristics and social media habits of your target customers. The best marketing plans combine smaller details like gender, income level, race, age, and education. The more things you cover, the more distinct your offering will be.
- Positioning Tactics
You must position your business perfectly for your target audience to create a sustainable brand image. How the customers look at your business is pivotal to earning their trust and loyalty. If you play your cards right and align your brand and the marketing, the perception will only enhance sales.
Also, this positioning needs to be done in all the right places. Tactically, you should use the most appropriate vehicles for marketing, meaning the most likely ones your target audience is accustomed to. These can include billboards, t.v ads, newspapers, digital visiting cards, and social media websites like Google, Facebook, etc.
- Analysis of your competition
Competition is always good for the market, as it constantly forces everyone to innovate and get better. So, there are a lot of things you can learn from your competition. For example, what is working for them? What has made them suffer? And how are they differentiating themselves from others?
You can then accordingly check your price points and the quality of your product or service. Also, if they open up a new kind of audience, you need to put in research on that to approach them. If you know their strengths and weaknesses, it will always help you to maneuver the market.
- Budget and proper metrics
You need to maintain a budget so that marketing doesn’t take away so much of your resources that you become unable to produce the quality you’ve already promised to deliver. Plan a schedule on a month-to-month basis about the expenditures of marketing.
To stop overspending, your marketing plan must have a ‘red light’ point where you must make harsh decisions. For any tactic used, create a metric that will inform you about whether it’s producing the desired return on investment or not.
You can track your progress through Google Analytics and Microsoft Excel. You can analyze the returns against the ROI after testing programs for 30 to 60 days at least. Then, get rid of the useless ones and repeat the ones that are delivering for you.
Nowadays, only a good product or service isn’t enough for a new small business. You need to let people know about you and your ideas.
For that purpose, you must have a sound marketing plan that will give you reach and a well-researched target consumer base whom you can impress as long as you have the quality.