6 steps to a great marketing plan
Key points in this article
- Get to know your market
- Develop a clear understanding of your target customers
- Work out a plan of action
Developing a marketing plan to help you to sharply define your market, customers and competition, and how you’ll best stand out. You and your team will know exactly what your message is and be confident your marketing investment is directed to the right audience, with the right message and in the right place.
1. Know your market
First, get a clear sense of your market by answering these questions:
- what is its history, current size and projected growth rate?
- what stage of the business lifecycle is it in – starting, growing, maturing or declining?
- what trends, legislation or wider factors (social, political, environmental) might influence it?
- what are the key factors for success in this market – price, product range, credibility?
- what are the barriers to your business’s success in this market?
- what’s your current and target percentage market share?
Think about your market – what are the key factors you’ll need to know?
2. Identify your target customers
The clearer your understanding of your customers, the more successful your marketing will be. Who exactly has a need for your product and out of this group who has the best capacity to buy it? ? Decide the market share you’re aiming for and the likely demand for your product – back it up with solid research.
It is also, important to understand how your customers behave, for example, are they likely to prefer buying online and what media do they engage with?
If your customers are other businesses, you can define them by turnover, market share, time in the market and number of employees. If your customers are the general public, define your target by factors such as gender, age, income, location.
Outline the parameters you can best use to define your target customers
3. Research your competition
Understand what your competitors offer and who they are targeting as well as how your product compares. Try the Australian Bureau of Statistics, industry bodies, your local Business Enterprise Centre or council to understand the competition For free benchmarking data, try ANZ’s Business Insights to find out about your competitors.
4. Define your competitive advantage
Your competitive advantage is the reason why a customer would buy from you instead of someone else. Ask your staff and customers what they see as yours. It may be a better product, location or website to faster delivery or superior guarantees. Make your advantages the the cornerstone of your marketing strategy.
5. Develop an action plan
Start with important dates like the times of the year or week when your customers might be more likely to be looking for your product or service, as well as understanding things like advertising deadline. Ensure you schedule enough time to develop items well in advance. Your plan needs:
- Targets: the target audience and how many sales you would like to make
- Channels: how are you going to reach your audience
- Message: what message will catch the attention of your audience
- suppliers’ help.
Don’t commit too far in advance though, so you can flex as you go.
Set out the steps you’ll take to realise your marketing plan
6. Revisiting, evaluating and updating your plan
Measure your results to learn what’s effective. As well as sales, look at indicators like Facebook likes, re-tweets, blog comments and website page views.
It’s normal for some marketing efforts to be less effective, especially to start with. Compare results with spend to measure marketing efficiency, and schedule regular times to evaluate progress and fine-tune your calendar based on what you’ve learnt.