Marketing has done a full circle and is now back at a stage where it was centuries ago.
In the beginning, marketing was word-of-mouth. Individuals telling friends and neighbors about their favorite market stall or craftsman. With the growth of the printing press, leaflets, posters, magazines, and other printed marketing materials started to be seen and dominated marketing until the arrival of the radio and TV.
The internet took leaflets, posters, and magazines online, into a digital format, but the principle was the same. With the growth of social media, there has been a fundamental shift away from the marketing message coming from the organization in question and towards recommendations of products and services through online fora, social networks, and gamification.
What do small business need for success?
• Knowledge about customers’ profitability
• Reduced costs higher prices
• Retained rather than acquired business
• Information via the database
• Relationships, not one-off transactions
Digital Marketing tools and techniques provide business owners with the best chances for competition, survival and even business growth.
Now when the only difference between a successful thriving business – and a failed one is the ability to attract targeted audiences to your business.
Small businesses sometimes believe that they don’t have the time or the money to be competitive online. They think they can only face so many challenges all at once and they are still learning the ins and outs of business in general. Many of them may prefer to take things slowly and to stick with one or two basic forms of advertising, assuming that their business will evolve as time passes.
We don’t want to disappoint you but there is never a guarantee that your business will attract customers just by existing and even if it does, you may not attract as many customers as you need to make your business become profitable.
Think of digital marketing as a way to make yourself accessible to the people you are trying to reach in order to offer your products and services.
Even small business owners benefit from having a marketing plan and following it, especially when the expertise on SEO, Marketing, Social Media etc is not present within the company.
This article will give you a basic guideline to work off. However, it might also be worth your time to investigate Digital Marketing Agencies to see if one fits your needs and budget. It will give you a better return on investment.
Basic Principles on Creating A Marketing Plan
- Specific — Be clear on what the targets are and how you will reach them, and especially who is going to be responsible for them.
- Measurable — All your targets and plans should include numbers and/or percentages. Simply saying “increase” is not enough. It is important to be able to measure the success or failure of your plan.
- Attainable — Even though it would be great to increase online followers by 10,000 overnight, it is not likely. Be reasonable in what is possible.
- Relevant — Make sure your targets are relevant to your business and will increase sales in the end. If your ideal customer is between 45 and 60 years old, having a Snapchat presence is not relevant to your business.
- Time — All the action points in your marketing plan should have a clear deadline. This also means that a good marketing plan is not eternal. It should be reviewed again after a certain period, often once the goals are reached or after one year.
With every point that you create in your marketing plan, you should keep these principles in mind.
Step 1: Define Your Marketing Goals
Step 1, defining your marketing goals, and step 2, describing your current situation, can be interchanged. I would still recommend setting your goals first and after reviewing your current situation possibly adjusting your goals again. For example, if you put as a goal get 10,000 likes within one year and when reviewing your current situation you already have 9,000 likes, you might want to adjust that goal.
The end goal of any marketing effort is to increase sales.
There are two ways that can happen. Either direct or indirect.
Direct is when people see a coupon and buy your product or contract you for your services.
Indirect is when people see an advertisement or have given ” a like ” to your facebook post and next time they need a similar product or service your company will be on the top of their mind.
Do not get hung up on how just yet in this part of your marketing plan. That comes later. Here you just review what you want the end result to be. Whenever possible breakdown yearly goals into quarterly or monthly goals.
- Increase value per sale by 20% within one year
2% within the first quarter
4% in the second quarter
6% in the third quarter
8% in the fourth quarter
- Gain 10,000 likes on our facebook page
- Increase visitors to the website by 10%
What the exact goals are will depend on your specific company and its needs. However, keep in mind that the end result is to increase sales. If you have a good presence on Facebook, but never got any sales from there, investing time and money into increasing likes is most likely going to be a waste of time. You will first want to work on your conversion.
Step 2: Review Your Current Situation
For each goal that you wrote down above, you need to review the current situation. How much are your sales? How many likes do you have? Where do you rank in google search? How many visitors does your website attract?
It is very important, to be honest here. If your website monthly attracts 500 visitors but that one day it had 20,000, don’t take the average. Mention the 20,000 and what happened to create that situation, but the average is still 500.
This is an internal document and you don’t gain anything by not looking at the harsh truth.
Step 2b: If Necessary, Adjust Your Goals.
It may be that you find that you will need to adjust some of your goals to be more realistic, or that you can actually increase a goal, after reviewing the numbers.
A marketing plan is a live document. That means that during the creation of it and during the year that you use it, it can change. Be flexible and constantly adjust.
Step 3: Identify Your Ideal Customer
This step is very important because from here on out, every marketing effort you make is focused on reaching this perfect person.
The more detailed you can be, the better. Instead of saying “women between 18 and 35” you could say “My ideal customer is a woman around 27…”
That does not mean that you will stop selling to women who are 18 or 35. It just means that your marketing is focused on exactly that group that is most likely to buy your product or service.
How do you find your ideal customer? When you have an already existing company you can look at your current customer database. Who are they? What do they do? Why are they buying from you?
In this step doing some marketing research is important. That can be as easy as sending out a survey to your clients or hiring a marketing research company to do the research for you.
Step 4: Identify Your 4 P’s
The 4 P’s in Marketing are essential. It is just as important to have these clear as it is to know your ideal customer. Obviously, parts of the 4 P’s will come from knowing your ideal customer.
How you price your product or service does not only depend on the cost, but also on how much your ideal customer is willing to pay. Of course, if your ideal customer is willing to pay less than the cost price of your product you either have a product that is not viable for the market, or you need to change who you are selling to.
This is the meat of any marketing plan. In fact, if you create a general business plan and include the 4P’s in it, this is the part where you would include your entire marketing plan. However, within the document of a marketing plan, here you describe in broad lines how you will promote your products. Not yet in detail but you might mention Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Discount Coupons in the newspaper, etc.
A description of all your products and services. This is important because some might need a different promotion strategy. Other might be great as an up or cross-sell with certain products. Creating a scheme where you make it clear which is which will help you at the time of closing the sale.
Place is where you sell your products or services. Is it 100% online sales? In that case, only via your website? Or do you also sell via Amazon, eBay? Affiliate sales? Will you sell in person? From your store or will you look for wholesale buyers? If you have a service, how do you deliver that service? Again, only online? Or will you meet with the client face to face?
Having this P clear means that you can focus your marketing efforts more strategically. If you want to only deliver your services face-to-face, you do not need an international audience for your Instagram page. If you only deliver online, a strong web presence is very important and newspaper ads will be less efficient.
Step 5: Identify Your Competition
If your clients do not buy from you, they will buy from someone else. Who is that? Why might your clients prefer them? What are they doing better and what are they doing worse? This is not to directly copy their strategy. If all your competition has a strong presence in person, but not as strong online, it means that there is an opportunity for your company to step in there.
Step 6: Describe The Marketing Strategies You Will Implement
This is the most important part of your marketing plan. Here you will describe exactly and in detail how you will reach your goals. All the steps before this point are to make it possible to create your strategy.
As you have created your goals with quarterly and/or monthly sub-goals it is important to adjust your strategy the same.
What this strategy depends a lot on your goal and what your ideal customer would be susceptible to. It could be extra training for your salespeople, online or newspaper ads, coupons, a reward strategy for loyal customers, etc.
Essential here is to create as much detail as possible. This is no longer the place to just write “create facebook ads”. Here is where you write down in detail how many Facebook ads, which dates, what the target audience is, how long the ad will run and what the expected return is.
You do this for each and every goal and subgoal that you have set.
It is very possible that you notice that you will need to adjust your goals because it is impossible to come up with a strategy that will let you reach those goals. That is OK. This is a live document and everything can and should change at any moment in the creation of it.
Step 7: Create A Budget For Your Marketing Strategy
Depending on the structure of your company you may have been given a budget or maybe you need to create one. Either way, for each of the strategies that you want to implement it is important to review the cost.
Any marketing action that you take has to result in a profit, either short term or long term. Spending marketing money and not seeing any returns is throwing money away. It can be beneficial, in cases of charity for example, but the largest part of your budget should have clear returns in profit. If it does not, it is important to review your strategy.
Step 8: Monitor Everything You Do And The Results
A marketing plan is not a static document. It is a live document that will need adjusting during the year it is in use. How do you know what you should adjust? By monitoring the strategies that you are implementing, their results, and the budget that you allowed.
In some cases, you can notice a positive increase. You might reach your goals sooner than you thought. Instead of only celebrating, you can stretch your goals a bit further and create more profit for you and your company.
In other instances, you might notice that a strategy is not working the way you thought it would. The options here are either to adjust the strategy or to adjust the goal. Which it depends on your personal choice and the reason why the strategy is not working.
You could create different Facebook ads and do some A/B split testing. Or you could realize that it is very difficult to grow your customer base by 20% within the year, but getting your customers to spend more per purchase is easier and cheaper.
In the end, you monitor the results and focus on where you can spend least and gain most.
A Comprehensive Guide To Create Your Marketing Plan
Marketing is a something that people study years to understand. And even then there are subsets of marketing that you can specialize in. As a small business owner, it is important to understand the basics but nobody expects you to know each and every detail. Therefore in each step, you can hire experts to help you reach your maximum potential within your marketing efforts. It may cost a bit more investment upfront, however, it is worth it if the return is more profit for your company.
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