All good marketing programs begin with a marketing plan. Whether your dealing with a small business with a tight budget or a multimillion dollar enterprise with deeper pockets, marketing plans are the foundation to effective presence on the net as well as offline. Marketing plans do not need to be an undertaking of epic proportions, they can be quite simple (of course some are much more detailed and can include expensive research).

Please note that more often than not, its the simple plans with a specific scope, goal, or purpose, which will be executed effectively and have a better market impact.

Your marketing plan regardless of size should be well structured, based on real research, and with realistic attainable goals. This plan, once implemented, must remain flexible enough to adapt to unforeseen market changes, and should be structured in a way that you can enhance the elements that prove effective.

Marketing Plan Basics

1. Do your research
Write down data about the market that is currently buying your product(s) or service(s). Some things to consider are:

  • Purchasing patterns for your item (is it seasonal, when is the “on” season when more people purchase from you)
  • Your customer demographic such as, which market segment, what is the target market, what are the customer needs, who makes the buying decisions?
  • About your product, you need to know who else is offering the product, and what are they offering.
  • What is the total sales for that item or type of time/service and how much of that can you expect to obtain?
  • How is your product measured or what are the benchmarks in your industry?
  • Supplier reliability, in the event that your campaign goes well, are your suppliers ready to provide you with the added volume of goods?

2. Who’s your target
You must know who your target is.  Describe your typical customer here. (age / gender / income level / race / disposable income, etc…)

3. Whats your product
Define your product.  What needs does it meet?  Is there another product that people are using instead of yours?  What can your product do better than your competition? How does it differ?

4. Who’s your Competition
List all of your competitors here.  What are their strengths and weaknesses?  (It helps to put yourself in your customers perspective an look at your competition in a more unbiased way)

5. Declare a mission (Statement)
This is a couple of sentences that will define your campaign.  It should be basic, brief, and inspiring.

  • It should clarify your purpose
  • It should focus your energy and motivate
  • It should attract customers and be engaging

6. The Strategies to get you there
What marketing strategies are you going to utilize to affect the marketplace towards your enterprise.

Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Networking – go where your market is and interact with your potential customers
  • Direct print marketing – sales letters, brochures, flyers
  • Traditional Advertising – print media, directories, television, radio
  • Training programs/Workshops – to increase awareness through open invitation “breakfast” workshops
  • Write articles, give advice, become known as an expert
  • Direct/personal selling
  • Publicity/press releases
  • Trade shows
  • Website
  • Social Media
  • Search Engine Marketing

7. Determine your Product Pricing and Branding
Based on the information you’ve collected sofar, should you modify your price?  Establish that pricing here.  In addition, establish “Branding” Guidelines for your product.  This includes; color schemes, associated typefaces and sizes, positioning, etc.  These must be consistent in order for you to establish market awareness.

8. Whats your marketing Budget
Determine what you can spend.  Allocate monies to the various strategies you’ve determined to be most effective.  Figure out what elements you need to outsource, and what you can handle in-house.

9. Set Goals

Create quantifiable marketing goals. This means results you can measure.
For example, your goals might be to get 10 new clients or to sell 50 products more per week.
Your goals can also include sales, profits, or even customer’s satisfaction.

10. Check Your Results
Be constantly monitoring your campaigns during flight and identify the elements that are working and not working. (make sure you “trim the fat” and re-allocate your budget to those elements which do work).

After your campaign: Survey customers
Track sales, leads, visitors to your web site, sale conversions, etc.

By researching your markets, your competition, and determining your unique positioning, you are in a much better position to promote and sell your product or service. By establishing goals for your marketing campaign, you can better understand whether or not your efforts are generating results through ongoing review and evaluation of results.

As mentioned earlier, be sure to review and revise your plan as needed. Successful marketers continually review the status of their campaigns.