TOP TIPS FOR CREATING A MARKETING PLAN
Marketing plans, done well, drive a business forward, providing them with direction, focus and an understanding of how to best win and serve customers in the most effective way possible. So, how do you create a marketing plan that does this? Here are some top tips, from Kara Stanford, Chartered Marketer and MD of KMS Marketing.
1. Know the difference between Strategic Marketing and Tactical Marketing.
A Strategic Marketing plan covers three key areas:
- A Situational Analysis: otherwise known as an assessment of the market place your company is operating in and your internal capabilities to meet the needs of that market place
- Objectives: this lays out where you want to get to. It needs to include high level marketing objectives, such as, “To increase our market share in xyz market from 10% to 15% over the next three years”
- Strategy: this sets out how you are going to achieve your objectives, using the four Ansoff strategies. Need a refresh on Ansoff? See top tip 3.
If you don’t know where you’re going and who you are trying to reach with what, then you will waste time, money and effort.
A Tactical Marketing Plan covers the nuts and bolts of marketing, the “what are we going to do to make our strategy real and achieve our objectives.” This includes designing marketing campaigns, using marketing tools such as social media, PR etc. Tactical marketing is what most people think of as “marketing”.
2. Don’t skip the Strategic Marketing plan
If you skip this bit then your Tactical Marketing Plan will waste a significant amount of money.
You’ve just done the equivalent of running out of the office door shouting, “We’re going on a journey! I don’t know where and I don’t know how but hey, look, there’s a bus and it looks kinda fun and cheap, so let’s hop on that and see where we get to!”. A great approach to life if you are backpacking, not so great if you are growing a business.
First, make sure you understand the market place you are operating in, what your company offers to that market place, where you are trying to get to and which Ansoff strategies you are adopting to get there.
3. When setting strategy, think, “Ansoff”
There are four key ways to grow your business and Ansoff laid them out perfectly.
- You can either sell more of your existing products into your existing market place: market penetration.
- You can take your existing products and sell them into a new market: market development.
- You can develop new products or services and take them to your current market place: product development.
- Or, you can develop a completely new product or service and take it to a completely new and unknown market place for your business: diversification.
Most businesses will choose a mixture of the strategies eg 30% of business this year will be based on a Product Development strategy, 70% on Market Penetration.
4. Choose your marketing tactics to suit your prospects and customers
When it comes to Marketing Tactics, it’s easy to get dazzled by the latest “must do” or feel swamped by the latest trend. Keep a cool head and think, “Where are my customers? What are they reading/looking at/hearing? Who are they talking to?” and then choose your marketing tactics to make sure that you are in the places they are, communicating with them in a way they can relate to.
Choose a range of tactics which support your prospects and customers at each stage of the Buying Process.
5. Review your Marketing Plans constantly
As your business grows, you will, inevitably, learn more about your market place, your clients, how your products and services are used by your clients, which marketing tactics worked and which didn’t.
Take this knowledge and plough it into your marketing plan, constantly reviewing it. By review, I don’t mean sit down and look at the whole thing in one go, but constantly tweak it, update it, adapt it, as you gain in knowledge and understanding about your markets. Then, once a year, review it completely. This on-going approach will stop you wasting too much time, money and effort on marketing that doesn’t work. Reviewing only once a year is too late; you may have been targeting the wrong people in the wrong way for a whole year. That’s a lot of wasted time and money.
Kara Stanford is Managing Director of KMS Marketing. KMS Marketing helps Small to Medium sized businesses use marketing to deliver results.