As a business owner, hopefully you have developed a business plan that defines the goals and strategies you want your business to achieve. But, have you developed a marketing strategy for your business? It doesn’t matter if you are starting a new business or running an existing business, it is critical for success to understand the importance of a strategic marketing plan. In today’s business world, taking the time to develop a thoughtful plan will clarify the key marketing elements and provides direction, objectives and activities for the business and its employees. Ensuring that your business is guided by a strategic plan can be the difference between successful growth and no growth.
Writing Your Marketing Plan
There are thousands of right ways to put together a formal marketing plan. Consider developing a marketing strategy document that you can share with others who will be managing different aspects of your campaigns. Your plan could be a simple document with bullet points for easy reading and understanding, listing all the strategies you plan to implement or have already implemented. Keep in mind that the idea is to have everyone involved. This plan will guide not only your marketing team, but allows other departments or groups to become aware of the direction your company is going so they can adjust if needed. If there’s a question, then a marketing plan can provide guidelines to a team needing to make decisions.
When starting to write your marketing plan, consider the broader goals outlined in your business plan. Your business plan should state how the company will take an idea and transform that into a commercially viable product or service. From here the marketing plan should focus on the Four “P’s” of marketing: product, price, promotion and place. Considering each of these elements of marketing and putting them into written form can be useful as it forces you to analyze your business. It is also good for employees as the marketing plan can provide them with goals as well as be a source of motivation.
Understanding who wants your product is the first step in a strategic plan. Who will buy it and why? How is it better than its competitors? Knowing your target audience will help you emphasize the benefits they are looking for and why they should choose you over your competitor.
What pricing strategy will you use for this product? Are you planning to sell large volumes to keep the price low? Or will your product be marketed to a smaller sector at a high price?
How will your product information reach your target market? How will it be presented to your target market? What is the advertising strategy? How will the product be packaged? The key to promotion is to get the right information in front of the right audience, and this starts with knowing your target audience.
How will the product be distributed and easily accessed? Will it be sold by retail stores or on the Internet? When will it be purchased? Who will likely purchase it?
Placement means making the product or service available at the right physical or online location. The how, who, and when should be analyzed in order to accommodate your target audience and their needs. Do you have your products in the right place and can buyers get what you sell easily and efficiently? If not, rethink your approach and find ways to make the purchase as easy as possible.
Completing Your Marketing Strategy
Analyzing the Four “P’s” and writing them down is the start of a well-developed strategic marketing campaign with a clear brand position. You should know whether you are at a high price-point with a distinct value proposition for a specific core audience or if you are at a low price point for a broad audience. As a business owner, you may find it useful to seek advice on these issues however, you will need to make the final decisions since you have the best understanding of your product and business.
There are many critical decisions that will drive your business’s marketing mix which is ultimately built around a very specific customer. If you want to serve a specific person, you must know how to serve that person specifically. Knowing your customer will lead you to a much more focused and, therefore, successful marketing strategy.