Having a comprehensive marketing plan is imperative to the success of your business: it’s how the majority of potential customers will discover and form their opinion of you. You may have already included a marketing plan overview as part of your overall business plan, but in this two-part post series we will focus on the key things you'll need to create a successful marketing plan in its own right.
You may have already thought about your mission statement as part of your business plan. It is the definition of what your business does and provides context to your overall business and marketing objectives. It will help guide what you want your marketing plan to work towards.
Your mission statement should include who your target customers are, what products or services you provide and what sets you apart from the competition. Think about the image you want to convey in the way you talk about your business. It may help to research your competitors' mission statements and also any companies that inspire you. For example, Coca-Cola’s mission statement is: “To refresh the world...To inspire moments of optimism and happiness...and to create value and make a difference”. Nike’s mission statement is “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. *If you have a body, you are an athlete.”
Ensure you have a thorough understanding of all of your products or services to ensure you understand how you compare with your competitors and what potential gaps there are in the market.
A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis is essential in helping you chart where your company, products or services sit within the market and guide your setting of marketing objectives and strategy.
You will also need to research who your customers are: age, sex, occupation, their likes, dislikes, etc. Think about where they go for information about products or services such as yours, i.e. what media they consume and what factors influence their spending. If you have budget to invest in market research you can find out further insight into existing and potential customer habits and how to best target them.
Goals & objectives
Marketing goals and objectives are the desired outcomes of your activity and will ultimately feed into your financial ones. Your research into the existing market and SWOT analysis will help guide what goals and objectives you should be setting. Goals are the broad direction and general intentions of your company, i.e. “be the biggest supplier of X in the UK” or “create more awareness of our services”, whereas objectives are measurable, time specific and have detailed parameters for reaching your goal, i.e. “increase customer base by 20% by the end of the year” or “increase Facebook ‘likes’ by 500 people this quarter."
Many businesses use the SMART approach for setting specific objectives:
Specific – determine exactly what you want to achieve
Measurable – set measurable objectives (profit made, market share gained, percentage growth, number of new customers, social media reach and engagement etc.)
Action-oriented – what needs to be done and who will do it
Realistic – ensure the objectives are realistic within your budget and resource
Time Specific – specify a time frame for completion and seeing the results
In our next post we will discuss how you can use your research, goals and objectives to devise your strategy and create an actionable plan.
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