marketing plan written on post it

Beginners Guide To Creating An Effective Marketing Plan

A marketing plan is fundamental to ensuring your business's success. In this article, we take you through the steps to help you put together a sound marketing plan for your new business.

When you embark on a new business venture, there are so many things to think about. You are likely wearing many different hats and taking on different roles, from logistics to HR and creative to marketing. That’s why in this article, we will look at:

  • What a marketing plan is and its importance
  • Business KPIs and key information
  • Branding and market research

 

So, keep reading as we take away some of the stress and confusion from creating a marketing plan – giving you time to focus on creating a successful business for years to come.

 

What is a marketing plan?

Marketing plans serve as a roadmap for the future, informing promotional strategies and business decisions. It can also help to save you a lot of time and hassle whilst enabling you to spend your marketing budget more effectively and ensuring your whole team is oriented toward a common goal.

It depends on which exact organisational framework you choose to help develop your marketing plan, but in general, you should aim to include:

  • Key goals and objectives
  • Situational analysis
  • Market research
  • Tactical information & content strategy
  • Budgets & resources
  • Monitoring & improvement

 

How to write a marketing plan

There are various frameworks and models available to help create your marketing plan. A popular framework is the SOSTAC® planning model. Created by PR Smith in the 1990s, this model has stood the test of time. The phrase SOSTAC® is an acronym for the model’s six fundamental aspects, which are:

  • Situation
  • Objectives
  • Strategy
  • Tactics
  • Action
  • Control

This framework is highly adaptable, commonly used in modern marketing strategies and covers key points that a new business would need to cover in a marketing plan. We will explore each aspect of the framework and look at how you can use it to help you create an effective marketing plan in no time at all.

 

  1. Situational analysis – where are we now?

As the title would suggest, the first step is evaluating exactly where your business stands at the current moment. You’re looking to develop an in-depth but concise overview of your organisation. To do this, consider the following questions:

  • Who are your customers (demographic profile)
  • How do they interact with your business (via which channels and platforms)
  • What are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to your business (SWOT analysis)
  • Who are your key competitors (note how they differ in terms of the offering, pricing, and service)
  • Which channels and platforms work for you and which do not

This step should provide some valuable insight into where your business is, what is and isn’t working, and what your key channels are.

 

  1. Objectives – where do we want to be?

A great way to establish your objectives for the future is to define some SMART objectives. Whilst this might seem daunting, it helps to ensure that your goals are realistic and well defined, which may save you hassle in the long run. SMART stands for:

  • Specific – is your objective clear or vague? For example, ‘increase shoe sales’ is not a specific objective and could lead to uncertainty and further questions. Instead, choose ‘increase sales of women’s black shoes by 20% during 2022’.
  • Measurable – what will success look like for your company, and how will you measure it?
  • Achievable – your goals and objectives should be realistically achievable instead of describing a hope or vague wish for the business.
  • Relevant – is your goal pertinent to your success? Defining this will prevent you from wasting time and effort on objectives that aren’t particularly important.
  • Time-related – it is difficult to achieve objectives that do not have an allocated timeframe. Establishing this will help keep your team on track and prevent excess spending on expired campaigns.

 

  1. Strategy – how will we get there?

Once you have clearly defined a firm set of SMART objectives, you can move on to consider how you will achieve them. This is highly tailored to each business and goes beyond general marketing channels – it defines exactly how your organisation will reach its goals, considering situational analysis.

If your objective is to ‘increase sales of women’s black shoes by 20% during 2022’, you might recommend that your company invests in an e-commerce website or sets aside a budget for a digital shopping campaign.

 

  1. Tactics – how exactly will we get there?

In the tactics section, you’ll be drilling down into the nitty-gritty of exactly how your company will use specific strategies to achieve its marketing objectives. Each company will develop a unique mix of tactics and tools to plan this, for example:

  • Content creation plan
  • General or specific marketing calendar
  • Digital roadmap
  • Pricing methods
  • Social media strategy
  • Website SEO plan
  • Promotional plans for individual product ranges

Each area of your tactical plan will correspond directly to your pre-defined objectives. If you are looking to increase awareness of a specific service or product, you may enlist the help of a PR agency and use a content planner. If you are looking to launch a new product, you might plan a detailed roadmap allocating a budget for product packaging and labelling, materials, and other production considerations.

 

  1. Action – who does what and when?

The action stage goes one step further into your planning and considers the resources available. Specifically, which department, staff member, or agency will be responsible for any given campaign. For each area detailed in tactics, follow up with these considerations:

  • Will you use external agencies such as marketing, web design, or logistics?
  • Which processes or systems will need to be put in place to support any given campaign?
  • Which in-house resources or skills can be capitalised on?
  • Are there any skill gaps, and will education be required?

 

  1. Control – how do we monitor performance?

The final step is putting in place some methods for performance monitoring, this will relate directly to your SMART objectives set out early in the plan. If you were looking to evaluate the success of any given campaign, how would you report it, at what frequency, and how?

 

You may have a dashboard tailored toward each channel or tactic – for example, a digital monthly report generated by your website provider or daily sales reporting that relates to in-store till sales. Your performance monitoring will give you key insights on areas for improvement and adaptation of your marketing campaigns in relation to meeting your chosen KPIs.

 

What are KPIs in business?

KPIs are your ‘Key Performance Indicators’ and vary from business to business. If you were going to determine if your business efforts were successful or not, which metrics would you use? Some common KPI examples include:

  • ROI – your return on investment
  • CPC – the cost per click to your website
  • CTR – click-through rate
  • Cost per customer acquisition
  • Prospect win VS loss rate
  • Customer retention rate
  • Conversion rate
  • Profit margin.

 

Now you know how to create an effective marketing plan using methods tried and tested by marketers across the globe. Are you ready to take your business to the next level? 

 

For more help and support on marketing your business, take a look at Start and Grow Enterprise’s free marketing training here.

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