5 Steps to Creating An Effective Marketing Plan
Updated: Jul 21, 2021
Do you really need a marketing plan? As a professional in this field, that to me is a simple answer. YES! Like many things in life, it is hard to follow through with goals unless you identify them and create a plan to accomplish them. Take for example healthy eating… it’s much harder to accomplish your healthy eating goals without meal prepping. Meal prepping takes planning – scheduling one day to research your meals and create the shopping list, one day to grocery shop and one day to cook; it also takes the will power to say no to that donut your coworker brought to the office this morning. Similarly, a marketing plan for your business is the key to keeping your business on track to accomplish your goals.
Many new entrepreneurs and marketing professionals have a difficult time describing what a marketing plan is and how to build one. To put it straight, a marketing plan is map acting as a guide towards your overall business objectives and there are a few questions you will need to answer about your business in order to create an effective one.
Here are 5 questions to ask yourself as you begin developing your marketing plan along with tips on how to answer them; because no one can answer these questions about your business better than you!
1. OBJECTIVE – What is your key strategic objective(s)?
The first step to any marketing plan is outlining what you want to accomplish; this will help you in developing your marketing strategy. Your marketing strategy should be directly linked to your business goals and objectives. After carefully defining what you want to achieve, you will need to create a plan that will outline what you want to do and details on how you will do it.
Create specific business goals to get yourself started – make sure you are setting specific timelines to your goals. Giving yourself a time frame will enable you to create a more realistic plan.
2. TARGET MARKET – Who are you trying to reach?
Next up is your target market. You need to identify your ideal buyer for what your business is offering whether a product or service. In your marketing plan, you will describe your ideal buyer and keep in mind, more details you include during this process, the more targeted your plan will be. Understanding these people is key and it will help you to effectively create marketing material that will bring them to your business.
3. VALUE PROPOSITION – What value do you bring?
Once you know who you are serving, you need to better understand the value you bring to them. This is where you will identify your approach for reaching your target market, one that set you apart from your competition. Marketing professionals call this step developing a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). A USP is a tool used to communicate the key factors that separate your product from the competition… An effective USP communicates your company's values and differentiates what your company offers through what you stand for and how this benefits your customers.
In essence, you want to walk away from this step knowing why your business is a better choice and why your target market should choose you over your competitor.
4. PROMOTIONAL PLAN – How are you going to reach your target market?
After developing your value proposition (yay, you’ve given your customers a reason to choose YOU) you will need to evaluate the different marketing channels that would be most effective in reaching your target market. This mean, understanding the key elements of your marketing mix, and creating a plan that encompasses your value proposition. You will also need to think through how your products or service will be sold and how your audience will hear about it. Just remember, when it comes to successfully reaching your target market, use a combination of marketing activities! These marketing activities can include marketing materials, public relations, internet marketing, direct sales, etc.
5. ACTION PLAN – What do you need to do to reach your marketing goals?
It’s time to take action, so what now? This should be the final step of your marketing plan and the key here is to identify the tasks you need to accomplish in order to put your plan in motion. These tasks will help keep you on track through the process. Going back to my example of healthy eating… identifying the steps need to stay on track is key and helps to create consistency in progress.
To create this action list for your marketing plan, start with your end goal(s) then break them down into achievable steps that get you to your desired outcome. Just remember, think S.M.A.R.T!
When it comes to your marketing strategy, it's important to always remember that like most things, it must continually be reviewed and adjusted to fit your business goals. Alpine Associates Consulting Group works with businesses of all sizes to help them through this process. Contact AACG today for more information on how they can assist you in developing your most effective marketing plan yet.