As a small business owner, I imagine you would not have the time to prepare a detailed marketing plan. Some business owners might not have a plan at all. However, I personally think a marketing plan is necessary for the success of your business. But, you do not need a 10-pages-or-more plan. I always develop a plan with no more than 3 pages that highlights major key points. On a marketing strategy level, Tim Berry has suggested a framework of “thinking” on how to develop a marketing plan. Those steps are basic and not difficult. His suggestions should act like a guideline for you to start with. He encouraged you to think about what you want to achieve, your strengths and weaknesses, your unique offerings, your target markets, and how you want people to perceive about your brand.
To make it simple, I would also like to suggest that you incorporate your promotion plan in a marketing plan. This way, you will have everything you need in one place for the whole year. Jeff Williams provided a short list of what you need for promotions in his article – How to create a powerful promotional plan for your 50+ business.
Let’s put all of them into easy-to-develop steps, shall we? In your marketing plan, you might want to split into two main sections: an overall marketing plan and a promotion plan.
Section 1: Marketing Plan. You should at least have the following items in a plan.
Section 2: Promotion Plan. To prepare a promotion plan, you need to understand your business cycle or season. Basically, you need to know when to spend money to boost sales and when to save the money. If you own a restaurant, for example, you might want to spend the marketing money during slow periods e.g. in February or May. What you need in your plan can be as simple as a spreadsheet with the following fields:
Please trust me that if you could list all promotions you need for a year, you would feel so good! It creates confidence, it makes you think, and it helps you identify potential opportunities in advance. Ultimately, it helps you to be ahead of the game. Please also understand that this is an ongoing process. You will need to visit your plan to update it every now and then. Most importantly, you will need to track the results for two reasons: 1) if a promotion fails, you want to learn from it, and 2) if it is successful, you want to replicate it.
So, it’s not too hard, isn’t it? I believe many small business owners would already have a marketing plan in place. However, for those who don’t, why not start preparing it now.
Marketing Plan Essentials for a Successful Business
A marketing plan enables you to draw an outline of the techniques to be employed in order to achieve the goals of your online business. Without a plan, the business will have no direction.
So why is it necessary to develop a marketing strategy?
Most online start-ups fail within the first year of their operation due to failure to create an effective marketing strategy. A great plan can enable a small start-up to be on the same level with already established online businesses.
Let’s take it a step further and discuss the essentials in developing a reliable marketing plan:
And, don’t forget about the 4 P’s of Marketing: Product, Place, Price and Promotion — the graphic below has key
It is important that you satisfy all of these when creating a marketing strategy.
Embracing a good marketing strategy guarantees you of a ready market for your products and services. It also makes your enterprise successful and on a competitive edge by addressing the market forces of demand and supply. Once you have formulated the perfect marketing strategy and have the right product being offered at the best price, at the most convenient location and using the best promotional tactics, you get an edge over your competitors. All you need to stay at the top is adapt to the changing environment.
Creating a marketing strategy can take about an hour to do — and it can be the BEST hour you’ve spent on your business yet! Get in there, set your goals, create a marketing plan and stick to it!