How to Create a Marketing Plan

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create a marketing plan, marketing plan for small businessWhat Are the Elements of a Great Small Business Marketing Plan?

You?re about to launch your small business and most of the pieces are in place. You have a clear business plan, a set of documented financial goals, a financing plan, a production plan and a hiring strategy. But you still need a marketing plan. Why is this step important? And what are the elements your marketing plan will need to cover?

Why Does Your Small Business Need a Marketing Plan?

A marketing plan helps you identify your core audience and then define this audience in writing. Your marketing plan should be able to explain this audience in clear terms to your managers, business partners, contractors and employees.

Your small business marketing plan also provides a step-by-step road map that illustrates how you intend to reach out to your market, and how you?ll convince them to buy once you have their attention.

If the needs of your core audience change, or if your research suggests you?ve identified your target market incorrectly, you?ll need to make adjustments to your brand, your web presence and your advertising campaigns. A clear marketing plan can help you control this shift.

Your marketing plan can also provide structure as you move from one campaign to the next. As each campaign ends, you?ll conduct post-mortem assessments, document lessons learned and determine which elements worked and which didn?t. As you update your marketing plan each quarter, you can use this data to tighten, shape and redirect your ongoing efforts.

What Elements Should You Include in Your Marketing Plan?

  1. Segmentation: Chances are, your core market isn?t made up of a single, unified demographic. Instead, your audience is segmented into subgroups with different values and different needs. Identify each of your market segments clearly.
  2. Competition: List the alternatives available to consumers in your target market. What do you offer that these competitors can?t? Consider price, ease of use, delivery options, etc.
  3. Goals: What are your annual goals and what specific metrics can help you track them? Are you interested in generating site traffic? Increasing first time visits? Reducing abandonment rates?
  4. A Tactical Plan: ?How do you intend to gather the above information, and once gathered, how will you use this data as you move forward?
  5. A Timeline: What time limitations do you face, and how will accomplish your goals on time and within your budget?

If you?re successfully running a small business, how often do you rely on your marketing plan? What marketing tips can you share with first time small business owners? Leave your comments below.