MARKETING

New BusinessMARKETING

How to Create Your First Marketing Plan

QUICK SUMMARY

Your business is just getting off the ground. So why do you need a marketing plan? It’s important to the success of your business to know where you want to take it in the future. And the only way you can get there is to have a roadmap – or plan – to help guide the journey. Consider your marketing plan the roadmap to your business’s future.

Marketing Plan: The Basics

Marketing success grows out of a good marketing plan. This formal, written document describes your company's brand marketing and promotional strategies. It outlines who you are, what you do, who your customers are, and how you plan to market to them. Your plan should cover a 12-month period.

Your marketing plan should include several key components: situation analysis, customer insights, a value proposition, your vision statement, marketing objectives, marketing strategy and the tactics needed to achieve your marketing goals.

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Market Situation Analysis

The Market Situation section of your plan includes an evaluation of your target market, competitors, business challenges, and your company’s competitive differentiators. It should also describe your company’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as opportunities and threats you face.

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Use Customer Insights to Create Your Marketing Plan

No one can give you a more objective and unvarnished perspective on your company like your customers can. Ask them what they like about your company, what they dislike, and how your products and services could be improved. There are many ways to garner this feedback, from phone or in-person discussions to outside professional services to online surveys and other tools.

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Determine Your Value Proposition

Your unique value proposition describes your company, products and services, and your position in the market. It also defines your target market, ideally including demographic information such as age, gender and household income.

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How to Craft a Vision Statement

While the value proposition paints a picture of your company as it is today, your vision statement summarizes how you wish your company to be viewed by employees and the marketplace. The vision statement typically isn’t included in your plan document, but it is part of your Marketing Plan, because the Marketing Plan must be consistent with your company’s overall business goals as spelled out in your vision statement.

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Identify Your Marketing Objectives

In this section, you spell out your revenue and other goals for your marketing efforts over the next year (and, ideally, beyond), and provide specifics on how you will achieve them. Each of your marketing objectives should include a description of what you intend to accomplish, including concrete, numerical goals.

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Create Your Marketing Strategy

Here, you outline the strategies you'll use to achieve your marketing objectives. A good place to start is by defining your marketing mix, which includes "the four Ps": Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Your marketing strategy will also identify your target audience(s), a smart way for a small business on a limited budget to focus its marketing efforts.

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Define Your Marketing Tactics

The final section of your marketing plan describes the marketing tools you'll use to achieve the objectives stated in your plan in general, and your Marketing Strategy in particular. Include a list of promotional channels you identified in the previous section, as well as a timeline for when you plan to roll out each of those tactics.

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