Whether you’re starting a business or exploring ways to expand an existing one, a Marketing Plan is an important tool to help guide your business promotion decisions. A Marketing Plan provides clarity regarding how your products / services are unique in comparison to your competitors, how you will price and distribute your products /services, and how you will target your ideal customer(s) with a specific and defined set of marketing activities.
An effective Marketing Plan should drive the growth of your business, through the use of carefully selected marketing tools and activities that are matched to your unique selling position, your brand and your target audience buying behaviours. The purpose of a Marketing Plan is to help articulate a strategy for promoting and growing sales for your business. It also provides insights into your market, your ideal customers and how to engage them in meaningful ways. In this way, an effective Marketing Plan will save you money while enabling your business to bring in more revenue.
For existing businesses, a Marketing Plan should be updated annually as a way to guide growth and navigate the expansion into new markets. Your Plan should include explicit objectives for specific marketing activities such as your overall marketing strategy, sales strategy, SWOT, distribution channels, sales / marketing personnel, products / services, promotional plan and budget. A Marketing Plan is a complement to your Business Plan and the marketing budget is an input into your overall business budget.
Benefits of a Marketing Plan:
1. Identifies your Target Market
Through market segmentation, an effective Marketing Plan will enable you to identify and understand your ideal customers, their needs, problems and values; and how your product / service meets their needs or addresses their problems in a way that creates value.
2. Identifies your Competitors
An effective Marketing Plan includes the identification of your competitors from a SWOT perspective so that you can determine how you can improve or augment your offering to be favourably compared to the offerings of your competitors.
3. Defines your Unique Selling Position
An effective Marketing Plan requires the definition of how your brand, products and services will be positioned in comparison to your competitors in the market, in such a way that makes your offering unique and preferable in comparison to your competitors in the eyes of your target customers.
4. Supports ROI on Marketing Spend
An effective Marketing Plan includes the definition of specific and measurable marketing goals, time-frames and activities. This ensures that you only invest in promotional activities that drive a positive ROI, ie: promotional activities that match your target market's purchase behaviours, etc.
5. Sets out Strategy to Target Ideal Customers
An effective Marketing Plan utilises market research to map out a strategy to reach your target audience, including the messages, channels and tools that you will use. Again, this will prevent investment in marketing activities that don't support your defined strategy.
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