Why Should You Create a Marketing Plan for Your Small Business?
Getting started with your own business is often scary and hard, but if you get prepared properly for this new adventure, you can overcome all the obstacles that you will surely come across and become a successful entrepreneur. One of the pillars on which you should build your small business is a good marketing plan.
Why Should You Have a Marketing Plan?
A lot of people that decide to start their own business underestimate the importance of a solid marketing plan. They think that if the product or service is good enough, there is no need for marketing it. Even though this has some logic today when we live in the world of social media where your products or services can be advertised by the people that are happy with things you offer and provide, that still isn’t good enough. Having a marketing plan can help you develop products or services that suit the needs of your targeted market. It also helps your clients understand what is so great about your product or service to separate it from the competition.
Even though it takes a lot of time, effort and research to develop a good marketing plan for your small business, it will pay off in the long run and will contribute, to a great extent, to any success your company achieves. So, let’s take a look at some of the most important questions you will have to answer in your marketing plan that will make it a great tool, which will help your business grow and succeed.
How to Create a Marketing Plan?
As we already said, creating a marketing plan is a long process and includes a lot of effort and research. To create a great marketing plan that will be a fantastic tool to get your business to where you want it to go, you need to answer some questions and define many important things that will affect your business and your success.
Before you begin with the creation of your marketing plan, you need to ask yourself how is that marketing plan going to support your business goals. Having a very clear view about your goals is what your marketing strategy is all about.
Your marketing strategy points out what you want and need to do and once you know this, you can proceed with creating a marketing plan that can help you achieve these goals. However, if you still didn’t set up specific business goals, you need to do it as soon as possible. You also need to separate long-term goals and short-term goals so you can devise a more direct business plan for each of those short-term goals.
Another thing you need to include when you determine your goals is attaching a timeline to every one of your business objectives. That way, you will be able to make a more realistic and specific marketing plan.
What are you trying to do and what are the basic questions your mission statement needs to answer? If you have already crafted a mission statement while you were planning your business you now need to add it to your marketing plan.
The foundation of your marketing plan is your mission statement and it is very important to create a direct and concise mission statement that will allow your potential clients to understand what you do and how you do it.
Even though your mission statement doesn’t really have a direct role when it comes to your marketing activities, it allows you to concentrate on your business objectives and helps you ensure that those marketing activities that you undertake are aligned with your company’s main goals.
The main question that you need to find the answer to when it comes to your targeted market is who you are trying to reach with your marketing plan and activities. Thus, target market is the particular audience you are looking to reach with your services and products, or, to put it in other words, your ideal customers. Including as many details when answering this question will allow you to have a more targeted and specific marketing plan.
You need to define and identify who your target audience is and where you can find them, what they think is important, what are they concerned about, what they need at this moment, etc. These questions and some others you might add will give you a clear picture of the people or firms that you think are your ideal customer. From this point, you can go on and create a personalized marketing message for your target market and ideal customers.
In order to create a smart marketing plan, you also need to know your competitors. That is why, in this stage, you need to answer questions like who are your competitors and where do you rank among them.
Finding out who is your competition and analyzing them is one of the most successful ways to do a target market research and plan your marketing activities. You need to look at those companies and businesses that have similar ideal customers as you and then analyze their good decisions, as well as their mistakes.
There are many ways you can perform a research that will help you get to know your target market by looking at your competitors. SWOT analysis is one of those methods. It is a strategic tool that estimates what the strengths and flaws of a company are, as well as their threats and opportunities. Comparing your SWOT analysis with your competition might be a great way to get the right picture of your place in the industry and how to improve it by recognizing areas where you can outpace your competitors, properly identifying and tuning your niche market and ensuring that you are ready to take on any obstacles that your competition might throw at you.
Unique Selling Proposition
Now that you know who your competitors are and how you can fight them, you need to ask yourself what makes your company unique and one of a kind? You need to stand out among all other similar businesses and the best way to do that is to devise a strategy that will make you unique, which is your unique selling proposition.
Unique selling proposition is a statement that points out how your company and your products and services are different from all others. It shows why your company is a better and safer choice for your target audience and why they should choose your company over your competitors.
The next step in devising a great marketing plan for your small business entails creating a pricing strategy. To do this, you need to ask yourself what will you charge and why.
If you have already created a standard business plan, that means that you already have thought about and researched what the best prices for your products and services are. Now, it is time to use that information and relate it to your marketing activities.
That means that you have to support the prices you have by offering your clients a clear idea of the advantages and value they will get in return. In many cases, a high-value proposition can help your clients decide to buy your product or use your service.
A promotional plan can help you find the right answer to the question of how you plan to reach your target market. Your promotional plan is a crucial part of the marketing mix because it covers every form of communication that you will use to reach your clients.
Every promotional plan is a mix of different marketing activities, like advertising, public relations, packaging, direct sales, Internet marketing, marketing materials, sales promotions, etc. However, you need to be careful so you don’t put too many variables into your promotional plan at the very start. Actually, you should begin by choosing up to 5 particular activities that will make it easier for you to perform the marketing strategy you devised in the beginning.
This step is very important and to do it properly you need to think about how much money you are going to spend and on what.
Having a marketing budget is crucial to devising a marketing plan because it lets you know how much you can spend on your marketing activities without exceeding your plan. It can also help you outline which activities you can afford and which not and determine the priority among them.
When marketing is in question, regrettably, the majority of small companies have a very limited or even small budget. That is another reason why creating a promotional plan that stays within your spending limits is very important.
Now that you have all the other things in place and neatly planned, you need to ask yourself what you have to do in order to achieve marketing goals that you set up.
Creating an action list entails outlining tasks that you need to do and the time when you need to do them, which is a very significant piece of your marketing plan since it guides you along your way of performing your marketing activities. Having this list allows you to make constant and steady progress without having to stop at every step to rethink or regroup.
To make an action list for your marketing plan, you need to take your final goal and break it into multiple smaller tasks that will lead to achieving that objective. When it comes to the form of your action list, you can choose whatever form you like, as long as you follow these basic rules. Just remember, smaller steps are easier to complete and can help you build your confidence and momentum, so it is probably better to have multiple smaller steps than just a few bigger ones.
Devising a marketing plan is not enough, you also need to track your progress along the way and measure your results. To do this, you need to ask yourself what results have you accomplished and where can you improve. Thanks to this step, your marketing plan will be able to grow from a static document for single use into a constantly changing, active guideline that helps you improve and develop your company.
Depending on the marketing tactics that you used, you will have different alternatives and options when it comes to tracking and measuring your results. For example, tracking standard marketing tactics that are not related to the Internet require a manual approach, while online marketing results can be measured with analytics and other metrics that are based on the Internet.
Make Good Use of Your Marketing Plan
Having a marketing plan can be a crucial thing to help you grow your small business and have a successful company. You simply have to use your marketing plan on regular basis and follow the things you have set out to do when you designed your marketing plan. However, you shouldn’t look at your marketing plan as a concrete and unchangeable document. As your business grows and changes, you can and should incorporate some changes in your marketing plan as well. After all, some things that you outlined in your plan might not work, while others might work better and you need to follow the results and make constant improvements to your marketing plan.
However, you also need to give your marketing plan some time before you can see the effects. You can’t know straight away whether a specific marketing activity is successful or not. Give it time and follow the results and you will be able to make the most of your marketing plan. That also means that you need to be prepared to learn from your mistakes and failures, not just from your success and accomplishments. In many cases, failure can help you look at your marketing activities from a different perspective, which can then lead to you finding better ways to implement your ideas and grow your small business into a big success.