If you are writing a marketing plan, these tips will help you create a marketing plan faster, focus your plan, and write a marketing strategy that's optimally aligned with your business goals. Also, make sure you avoid the top five marketing plan mistakes. Here are our top ten tips for writing a marketing plan:
Before you start your plan, take a few minutes to write down your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats with a marketing SWOT analysis. Check this article on how to do a SWOT analysis to write a marketing strategy.
Second, do some research on your target customers:
Make a list of all potential marketing tactics and activities, and score them according to how well they align with your SWOT analysis results and your target customer analysis.
Evaluate your competition from your customers’ eyes: don’t just look at other businesses with products or services similar to yours. Ask yourself what else you would consider if you were in your customer’s shoes with their problem. There may be a whole set of competitive solutions that you have ignored. For more on doing a competitive analysis, check out this article on competitive marketing strategy.
Don’t start to write a marketing plan until you can crisply articulate your unique value proposition: what is your main customer benefit, and what differentiates you from your competitors. All marketing messages should reinforce this value proposition.
Remember that marketing is most effective when you influence your target customer through as many complementary channels as possible (eg, advertising, email, blog, direct mail and postcard marketing, forum postings, etc). Be aware of where your prospects go to find information to solve their problem, and make sure your brand is visible where they are looking.
Keep your marketing efforts focused on a single goal, whether that is to grow business with existing customers, find new customers, or develop new niches for your product. Write down your marketing goal, and evaluate each marketing activity to make sure it aligns with it.
Don’t waste resources on misaligned marketing – even when something comes up that seems like a low-budget opportunity to get your name out there, it could divert focus from more pressing matters.
As you create your marketing plan, ensure you include programs in place to measure the ROI of marketing efforts. Evaluate past marketing activities, and assess what worked and what didn’t.
Make sure each marketing activity or tactic includes a call to action for the prospect: what do you want them to do with the information? There should be just one call-to-action (so as not to confuse) and it should be crystal clear. Repeat yourself if you have to.
Finally, don’t consider your marketing plan as a static document. Revisit it regularly and make adjustments as your business evolves, and you learn what works and what doesn’t.