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Use These 5 Steps to Create a Marketing Plan

Entrepeneur 02 Mar 2020 08:00
Use These 5 Steps to Create a Marketing Plan
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In their book Start Your Own Business, the staff of Entrepreneur Media Inc. guides you through the critical steps to starting your business, then supports you in surviving the first three years as a business owner. In this edited excerpt, the authors explain the simple steps involved with creating a marketing plan for your new business.

Everyone knows you need a business plan, yet many entrepreneurs don’t realize a marketing plan is just as vital. Unlike a business plan, a marketing plan focuses on winning and keeping customers; it's strategic and includes numbers, facts and objectives. A good marketing plan spells out all the tools and tactics you’ll use to achieve your sales goals. It’s your plan of action -- what you’ll sell, who'll want to buy it and the tactics you’ll use to generate leads that result in sales. And unless you’re using your marketing plan to help you gain funding, it doesn’t have to be lengthy or beautifully written. Use bulleted sections, and get right to the point.

Use These 5 Steps to Create a Marketing Plan

Step 2: Define who your target audience is.

Step 2: Define who your target audience is.
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Developing a simple, one-paragraph profile of your prospective customer is your next step. You can describe prospects in terms of demographics -- age, sex, family composition, earnings and geographic location -- as well as lifestyle. Ask yourself the following: Are my customers conservative or innovative? Leaders or followers? Timid or aggressive? Traditional or modern? Introverted or extroverted? How often do they purchase what I offer? In what quantity?

If you’re a business-to-business marketer, you may define your target audience based on their type of business, job title, size of business, geographic location or any other characteristics that make them possible prospects. No matter who your target audience is, be sure to narrowly define them in this section because it will be your guide as you plan your media and public relations campaigns.

 

Use These 5 Steps to Create a Marketing Plan

Step 4: Research marketing tactics

Step 4: Research marketing tactics
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This section is the heart and soul of your marketing plan. In the previous sections, you outlined what your marketing must accomplish and identified your best prospects; now it’s time to detail the tactics you’ll use to reach these prospects and accomplish your goals.

A good marketing program targets prospects at all stages of your sales cycle. Some marketing tactics, such as many forms of advertising, public relations and direct marketing, are great for reaching cold prospects. Warm prospects -- those who've previously been exposed to your marketing message and perhaps even met you personally -- will respond best to permission-based email, loyalty programs and customer appreciation events, among others. Your hottest prospects are individuals who’ve been exposed to your sales and marketing messages and are ready to close a sale. Generally, interpersonal sales contact (whether in person, by phone, or email) combined with marketing adds the final heat necessary to close sales.

To complete your tactics section, outline your primary marketing strategies, then include a variety of tactics you’ll use to reach prospects at any point in your sales cycle. For example, you might combine outdoor billboards, print advertising and online local searches to reach cold prospects but use email to contact your warm prospects.

To identify your ideal marketing mix, find out which media your target audience turns to for information on the type of product or service you sell. Avoid broad-based media -- even if it attracts your target audience -- if the content isn't relevant. The marketing tactics you choose must reach your prospects when they’ll be most receptive to your message.

 

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Virojt ChangyenchamEntrepreneur Media Inc