You have started a business and have a product that has the potential to be a commercial success. You’ve built up your business, hired staff and developed a business plan, but in a competitive market, how do you make your product stand out?
Marketing is an important aspect of any business and with a marketing plan you will have a clear guide to promote your products and stay ahead of your competitors.
Why you need a marketing plan?
A marketing plan is an essential document that outlines the goals and objectives of your business; as well as strategies to achieve them. As a component of your business plan, the marketing plan helps determine an overall marketing strategy, as well as direction and specific action.
It is an underlying rule of business that in order to grow your market segment, you must first understand it. Developing an effective marketing plan can expand your consumer base from a mere handful to over a million customers. By focusing on your customers and their needs, your products or services will improve, and ultimately enhance the reputation of your business.
How to Write a Marketing Plan
Step 1. Background Analysis
You will first need to conduct a background analysis of your business. This requires an assessment of your business, your competitors and the market. Your market analysis must also highlight any market trends.
You should provide an outline of your business structure, the location of your business, the length of operations, the owners and your products or services. It is recommended to identify any challenges your business has experienced and how these issues were resolved.
Step 2. What are your objectives?
Your marketing plan must set out the goals and objectives you want your business to achieve. For example, you may have a financial goal to increase sales of your product by 20% within a 12 month period, or a marketing objective to introduce your product to new customers and boost brand recognition. These can be both short and long term, but must be clear, measurable and achievable.
Step 3. Who are your target customers?
To have a commercially successful product or service, it is important to know your target market and have an understanding of consumer behaviour.
When conducting a consumer analysis you should focus on questions such as:
- Who are your target customers?
- What is their demographic?
- What are their interests and needs?
- Why and how do they purchase your product or service?
- How does the customer feel about your brand?
Having a thorough understanding of your target market is highly beneficial to maintaining a positive relationship with your customers.
Step 4. What is your marketing strategy?
A marketing strategy explains the purpose behind your marketing objectives and outlines how they will be achieved. The 7Ps of the marketing mix are a useful guide to addressing the key issues with your product or service and in formulating your marketing strategy.
The 7Ps focus on your product or service, pricing, market position, promotion, the people in your business, the process of purchasing your product or service and the places where they are sold. Undertaking this process provides you with a framework to choosing the appropriate marketing tactics for your product as well as ways to distinguish your business from your competitors.
Read our guide to learn more about developing a marketing strategy.
Step 5. How will these strategies be implemented and reviewed?
Once your target market has been identified and you have determined your marketing strategy, you will need to create and implement marketing tactics. The marketing tactics you implement to promote your product or service must be appropriate to both your business and customers.
In your marketing plan it is important to identify the marketing activities of your business, who will be managing your marketing campaigns, the cost of the campaigns and the indicators of success. You should also set out how these tactics will be monitored and how often your marketing plan will be reviewed.
By formulating and following a marketing plan, you will enhance your relationship with your customers, improve your product or service, distinguish your business from your competitors, and ultimately, advance your market position.
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