Marketing can make or break a small business. But in order to deliver great marketing, you will need a solid plan. “A great marketing plan leads with a strong, comprehensive strategy that clearly defines who the customers are and how the company will provide value to them and meet them where they are,” explains Sonja Crystal Williams, co-founder of Go Getter Marketing Group based in Atlanta. “It includes actionable steps that can be taken to reach a goal. The goals must be realistic with clearly defined benchmarks for success. There should also be a timeline and assignments given to the individuals responsible for implementing the action steps.”
Determine the motivation behind your marketing plan. What do you want it to achieve? “Great marketing comes from great planning. The marketing plan is created to engage a prospect and get them to become a customer, or if the strategy is customer-focused, get that customer to become a loyal customer,” says Abigail Tiefenthaler, founder of Sweetspot Strategies, Inc.
So what do you need for a successful marketing campaign? First you have to know what you can afford. “To pull off any action steps, the company needs to have the budget and personnel resources in place to implement,” advises Williams.
Your plan should include brand development and strategy; a specific goal; a feasible budget; an action blueprint; and a track record of your milestones.
Many companies fail to think outside of the box when developing a marketing plan. “I often see clients focus heavily on the ‘tangible’ items such as websites, email campaigns, and other physical deliverables,” says Williams. “I really stress to clients not to overlook spending an adequate amount of time on strategy and clearly defining who their customer is.” Conduct customer purchase patterns or survey your clients for better insight to their needs.
“Review your branding to make sure you understand not only your ‘Why’ for being a business owner, but your ‘Who’s Why’ so you can understand what your ideal targets’ needs, why they need it, and why you’re the best business to give it to them,” adds Tiefenthaler.
Get everyone involved. “A good marketing plan should interface with all aspects of a business — sales, support, HR, etc. — and work together to improve performance. Otherwise, you’re missing important feedback that can help you improve your campaigns,” notes Brian Thackston, director of marketing for WebMechanix.