Have you ever been asked to write a marketing plan but not had a clue where to start?
If you need some ideas, take a look at our 10 Minute Marketing Plan below. It’s designed for small and medium business managers who want to write a basic plan but without the expense of employing a consultant.
Sadly you can’t actually write a comprehensive marketing plan in 10 minutes, but that should give you enough time to note down your general ideas and get a basic structure in place.
Step 1 – The Marketing Audit
You can’t put a plan together for where you want to take your business, without first understanding where you are now. Use some simple tools such as SWOT and PEST analyses to examine both your internal and external environment.
Think about the market situation you face. Who are your competitors, what are their products and services, what market are you targeting, what’s the value (£) of this market, and in which geographies are you operating?
What is your product, its features and identity and how is it differentiated. Why would customers want to buy it? Where will you sell your product (eg online or from a shop) and how will you set your prices?
Take your time here and involve your entire team if possible. Everyone will have a different take on your strengths and weaknesses and you might just be surprised by what your delivery driver or accountant thinks. This analysis is the foundation on which your plan will rest and you need it to be strong.
Once you’ve done this you are ready to think about where you want to take your business, so move on to step 2.
Step 2 – The Mission
An effective marketing plan has to include a mission statement. It is essentially the overriding goal or direction for your business and will help you to understand and explain to your stakeholders what you actually want to achieve.
It should be a top level guide to your businesses direction, for example:
Foundation Marketing will provide affordable marketing strategy and communications support to UK based small and medium businesses, providing high return on investment for its clients.
It shouldn’t be too specific or include measures as these come later on in the plan. It does needs to give your business some direction. Remember, you need your whole team to understand and buy-in to your mission for it to work, so don’t forget to ask for their opinion.
Step 3 – Objectives, Strategy and Measures
Now is the time to get more specific. Your objectives need to spell out where you actually want to get to. For example Chris the Fish, a high street fish monger, has an objective of being the first choice on the high street for fresh fish and to attract customers away from the super market.
His strategy therefore is how he’s actually going to do this. In Chris’s case he has decided to sell the best quality fish, at a premium price, with quality service to differentiate his offering.
The measure then is how Chris will decide if he’s got his strategy right, what marketers like to call control. He has set a short term financial goal of increasing his turnover by 50% in the first year, but he also wants his customers to be delighted with the service they receive. Chris plans to survey 50 customers after 6 months to check on his progress.
Of course, this is a simplistic example and you will need to think hard about what you want to achieve with your business and what measures are most appropriate. For early start-ups its practical to focus on your first year, but you will eventually need a short, medium and long term plan i.e. one, five and ten years.
Step 4 – Customer Segmentation
Once you’ve identified your objectives, strategy and performance measures, you next need to think hard about your customers. After all, marketing is as much about knowing your customers, as it is advertising. Think about who they are, what they like and dislike, when they do business, what motivates them, what their characteristics are and which newspapers they read.
The more you can profile your customers and create buyer personas, the better you can target your offering and communications. For example, Chris the Fish knows that most of his customers are local housewives who attend St Peter’s Church in the village. Chris has therefore decided that he’ll always have plenty of stock on Fridays.
Step 5 – Communications Plan
You are now ready to think about how you will communicate with your customers. This part of the plan is all about telling your customers you are there, what you sell and crucially, motivating them to do business with you.
Communications plans can be very simplistic or as complicated as you want, but to be effective you need to consider a multilevel marketing approach.
You should start by identifying your top three messages. For example, Rumpole’s solicitors, a local firm, wants all its communications to focus around the following three themes:
1. Rumpole has defended the innocent for over 30 years
2. Rumpole will personally manage your affairs
3. Rumpole has never lost a court case
Once Rumpole had identified his top three messages, he planned out what communications mediums he was going to use.
He opted for a multi level approach, incorporating a website with email capture, a Google AdWords campaign, some PR targeting the local papers, a toll free telephone number and he sponsored the local football team.
For each communications medium you need to ask yourself what the value is, or, why am I doing this?
If you cannot answer this quickly and clearly, then it might not be the right for your business. You also need to think about what you want to achieve with each medium, for example Rumpole wanted to raise awareness of his business by sponsoring the local football team, whereas his Google AdWords campaign was designed to persuade people to contact him.
Step 6 – Budget & Cashflow
So we’re down to the most painful part, what’s it going to cost? My advice here is to look at your cash flow projection and identify what percentage of your turnover you can afford to reinvest in your business. It might typically be anything between 1-5%, but each business is different.
Remember that marketing is an investment in your businesses success and not just an expense.
Once you’ve got to this stage you’re pretty much done. All that’s left is to present the plan to your team and then execute it. To be effective at marketing you have to make sure your entire team is 100% bought in and behind you.
And that’s it. Keep your plan on your desk and review it at least monthly to assess if you are achieving your performance objectives. It can be a useful management tool and will help you to remain focussed on what you set out to do with your business in the first place.
Please tell us about your experiences of writing a marketing plan for your business in the comments below.