Business and Marketing plans don’t need to be complicated. They just take a little time to put together. It’s sad to think many of us spend more time planning our time off than planning for our business.
According to Educational Portal a marketing plan “is a business document written for the purpose of describing the current market position of a business and its marketing strategy for the period covered by the marketing plan. Marketing plans usually cover a period of 1-5 years.”
The marketing plan details the steps that are taken to achieve our goals. If we want to increase our sales by 10% the marketing plan will detail the steps we need to take to achieve that.
What is included in a marketing plan?
First, we need to do our market research for the industry we are in. We want to look at the customers that buy our products or use our services. We also want to look at the statistics on our industry as a whole. For example, if we’re an airline we would want to know that global airline traffic generated about $600 billion in 2014.
The next step is to describe our competition. We need to know who the leaders are (if we’re not in the #1 spot). We want to determine what we need to do stand out from our competitors. If we manufacture running shoes we want to know who the best is (Adidas Supernova Glide 6 according to Runner’s World in 2014). What do we need to do to make our shoe better? What advantages does our shoe have over the Supernova Glide 6? How are we going to stand out from the competition?
Now on to the fun part. Step 3 is to develop our strategies. Areas included in this portion is your advertising, direct marketing programs, training programs, websites, and social media, etc. Let’s go back to our running shoe example. What running events are you going to want to advertise at or possibly sponsor? Build your wish list.
No plan can be complete without a budget. A limited amount of money always seems to get in the way of our wish list. Here we need to determine what strategies will give us the most bang for our buck.
No plan can be complete without a way to quantify our marketing goals. Do we want to sell 500 more pairs of running shoes? That is a quantifiable goal. Are we looking to add 1000 more fans to our Facebook page? Again, that is a goal that can be quantified.
The last part, and probably the most forgotten part, is to review our plans on a regular basis. If we’re not meeting our goals (or even on target for them) we need to go back to step three and review our strategy. We have to determine if something changed in the market place that we need to change our plan or did we interpret some information incorrectly. Like any good sailor, we need to adjust our sails to the wind in order to finish the race.
Now that completes our two part series about business and marketing plans for your business. There are a lot of sources out there that can assist you in developing your plans. Organizations like SCORE or the SBDC will put you in touch with experts that can help. Online there are many sample plans to be found. If you have the budget there are companies like mine that will consult with you and get your plans developed. In any case, it’s time to put the sail up and sail your business in the direction you want to go.