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Develop a Marketing Plan

A marketing plan is one of the most important aspects of any small business. It will assist you in evaluating your company’s marketing needs and give a concise direction to your marketing efforts. Above all, if developed properly, the plan should help you increase your market share in a cost-effective, timely and productive manner. Marketing plans only work when you implement them – putting them in writing is the first step.

Steps to a Successful Marketing Plan

Determine the philosophy of your company. Define whom the company serves and what those customers need and want today. Evaluate the company’s internal and external purpose.

Establish Marketing Goals

Include short and long-term goals. Most companies have a number of marketing goals that need to be addressed. When determining these goals, it is important to prioritize them in order of need and availability of funds. Consider the following:

  • Are you selling as much to your existing clients as you could?
  • Are there new products and services that your existing clients would like that no one else can offer?
  • Are there new markets that would like your existing products and services?
  • How do you compare to the competition in pricing? Quality?
  • Is your image consistent with your message?
  • What are the best promotional techniques to reach each market segment?

Establishing a Marketing Budget

A budget should be created for a minimum of 12 months. The key to a successful budget is realism. You should project sales by product for that period of time and marketing expenses, such as sales salaries, sales training, advertising, promotional materials, etc.

Create a Timeline

Your budget will drive your timeline. Most small companies must look at phasing in projects based upon cash flow constraints. You should also promote your business at a time that is convenient for your audience. Your market research should help answer these questions.

Develop an Effective Team

Most small businesses need more people to work the plan than they can afford. Hire employees and consultants to meet your highest priority needs within your budget. Then, prioritize the tasks and provide rewards to motivate the team to help you build the company further.

Follow the Plan and Track the Results

Once your budget and timeline is put together, track actual results against your projections. Then evaluate what is working and what needs to be changed. Monthly and weekly monitoring is critical. Sales people should be measured daily for results (e.g. closed sales, new leads, qualified leads, etc.). Most small companies change 20 to 50 percent of their marketing plan every quarter.

Develop Next Year’s Marketing Plan

As you monitor results, new goals and strategies for the coming year will evolve. Keep track of these so that next year’s plan is easier to develop.