There are so many organisations we have met who have admitted to not having a business or marketing plan. For many they feel there isn’t a need or rather understand the benefits of having one and for others it’s simply a question of not having the time or knowing where to start to put one together. We all live in a busy world with competing demands, however, failing to have a plan is in many ways like starting a journey without a map. How can we arrive at our chosen destination, be that the sunny climes of San Francisco or doubling our annual turnover if we don’t have any idea of how we are going to get there or what we are wanting to achieve?
It’s vital before we set off in any direction to review where we are now as a business, where we want to be and how we are going to get there. Taking those necessary steps will allow us to create a meaningful plan, with the right marketing activity and tactics to help us reach those much desired goals.
Marketing planning in 5 simple steps
Here are the 5 key steps to building a marketing plan with purpose;
1) Where is your business now?
Review where you are now by identifying your target markets, the services or products you provide and what makes you different (your USP). It’s also good at this stage to complete some comprehensive market research in the form of a customer and competitor analysis to really understand how you are positioned in the market and what your customers value about working with you. So many businesses miss this important stage and yet it is one of the most vital in informing what improvements are needed. A SWOT and PESTLE analysis should also be undertaken to identify your businesses strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and the external factors such as economic and environmental facing the business.
The results will enable you to think of ways of converting your businesses weaknesses to strengths and your threats to opportunities as well as highlighting your successes and areas of growth. A brand audit would also be worth considering at this stage to ensure you have the right alignment of your current marketing with your businesses values and characteristics.
2) SMART and realistic goal setting – identify where you want to be
Once you have looked at where your business is now, you can build some SMART goals and objectives to help you plan where you want to be.
The fundamental element of any plan is setting goals that are realistic and achievable. It’s good to be ambitious and I’m all for a target, but being realistic and honest with what is achievable is paramount in planning otherwise it can only lead to disappointment. Make sure objectives are SMART (Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timebound) so you have a clearly defined goal that you can review and measure; for eg: Boost ticket sales to Lindisfarne Festival by 20% in the next 3 months by developing a social media campaign and increase facebook posts by 50% to 16 weekly
3) Select the right marketing mix and promotional tactics – how you are going to get there
There are so many promotional tools available to businesses nowadays including social media, events, sponsorship, advertising, sales promotion, online and digital alongside factors such as pricing, product and distribution. The key is selecting the right elements of the mix that deliver the best impact within your budget and help you meet the objectives you have set. Go back to thinking about your target audience and where it is you can reach them. Where would they be if they were wanting to buy your product or service? online? social media? reading a music publication? You need to essentially be where they are. So often businesses miss the objective setting stage, creating marketing activity that doesn’t align to where they want to go as a business.
4) Set a budget
Ensure you have a designated budget set aside for marketing activity. What is great is that with so many cost effective tactics available to business nowadays including PR, online and social media, there is a marketing mix to suit all budgets. The best tactics aren’t necessarily the most expensive.
5) Return on investment – monitoring and control
Of course plans need to be agile as demands change and external factors impact businesses be that political, technical, social or environmental. The key is making sure you review your plan as you go along and have measurement tools in place to assess the impact of your activity and your ROI (return on investment) be that the number of followers you have on social media to the leads generated from a specific campaign or event. If something isn’t working, change it, if it is working, do more!