20 Ways To Create An Effective Marketing Plan

A marketing plan occupies a special place in the strategy of any company. The lack of planning often leads to the fact that investments in marketing become inefficient and unprofitable. A study by Bridges Consultancy found 9 out of 10 marketing plans are turning into useless scraps of paper. There is nothing surprising.

Effective marketing plan tips for small businesses and entrepreneurs

A lot of entrepreneurs do not pay enough attention to marketing, believing they truly know client base and ways of working with it. Although it is the marketing plan that will help to streamline and systematize all your ideas for promoting the company on the market, and also to avoid chaotic introduction of methods, waste of time, energy and money. The world-famous companies at one time appreciated the importance of amplification a detailed strategy.

The amplification of a marketing plan is not a one day process. It will take a long time to collect detailed information about consumers, to study the features, conditions, and much more. On average, the preparation of a quality program can take from 1-3 months.

Experienced marketers advice to follow the next tips in your sales strategy.


1. Making An Executive Summary

It concerned a resume of the key areas of the marketing plan. Try to outline the main findings, recommendations and goals of the company for the next few years. First of all, clearly formulate exactly how you see the result of planning. In what capacity do you want to represent the firm - as a separate organization or as a brand? Form a clear understanding of why a potential customer will use your product. In particular, determine the basic need that your product or service should satisfy. Such generalizations are useful for drawing up a universal future for the company.

Choosing the right planning tools is not superfluous. Records in paper notebooks are a thing of the past. The relevance is acquired by specialized software for creating and maintaining a marketing calendar. For example, Google docs allow working in Excel spreadsheets for multiple users and are suitable for teamwork. Evernote's online notepad will help you keep and structure any notes regarding your marketing plan. True, all calculations have to be done manually.


2. Company's Mission

The more you tell about yourself, the more authoritative you will look in the eyes of customers. It is crucial to take into account the global trend of social responsibility of business. Your company should move not only the desire to earn, but also be useful to the community. People have less tolerance to the human and other victims for the sake of the production efficiency than during the time of the industrial society. It means that a gradual transition from the consumerism economy to the creanomica as evidenced by the changes in priorities of the customers: neither price, nor quality, nor functionality allows anymore the producer to be placed in a good light against the rivals.

Some companies try to impart ethical guidelines also to their suppliers. For example, “Gap” watches that during clothes production a child labor was not used. The energy company Severn Trent, has decided to update the uniform of employees, intentionally inspected working conditions at the factory where it was sewed. Textile Management company realizes minimum a triple quality control of raw materials and finished products at every production step, at that the special attention is paid to the products for children. The success of taken measures is showed by the fact that 98% of production is appropriated to the first quality.

Values are arguments in favor of the importance of your product and its unique qualities. This is the first thing that a consumer should see on the main page of company’s site and what the red line will be in all marketing materials. If the positions of management and employees of the company are identical, the marketing plan can transform into an inspiring picture of the future, saturated with clear guidelines. Then the analytical data will become a platform for innovation, not just statistical junk. Planning itself will naturally turn into the achievement of results.


3. Conducting Situational Analysis

Its purpose is to quickly get a complete vision of the market, its size, trends, and characteristics. Such analysis helps explain the choice of actions in the marketing strategy of the product. Its main components are:

a) Analysis of the company's internal environment and resources, including assessment of the level of achievement of current goals and objectives;

b) Analysis of consumer behavior in the market, evaluation of the reasons for buying and rejecting the goods of the company;

c) Analysis of external factors of the company, the behavior of competitors and key market trends.

Also two types of tasks should be fixed. Business goals concern such issues as the position of the goods on the rialto (share or place among rivals), the level of sales, profit and profitability. Marketing goals address such problems as attracting new customers, keeping current clients, increasing the frequency and duration of the use of the goods.


4. Definition Your Target Audience

Most markets have a lot of potential customers, but in order to succeed faster and more efficiently, any business should study its scope in detail and draw up a description of the target group. The potential client should be researched and worked out. Describe the image or design a character the person that has all the attributes of your main consumer and analyzes what he/she is saying, doing, feeling and thinking during the day.

The methods of evaluating the target audience ought to be considered. If they are based on telephone (street) surveys or focus groups, it is crucial to assume the probability of having not very reliable conclusions. After all, a human during an interview on the street often overestimates the values or is lost and gives an inadequate answer. The official statistics do not save the situation. As for it there are selected not entirely objective indicators. Most preferable is a comprehensive approach based on the application of information from different sources.


5. Evaluation Your Competitors

Small businesses rarely devote time to in-depth research of their rivals. But such an analysis is important for understanding their competitiveness and predicting their reaction to the actions of your company (price reduction, various stocks). I.e. studying the opponents, you are simultaneously preparing a plan for the future struggle. It will not be superfluous to use SWOT analysis, which results could help in the amplification of a tactical action plan for the use of the company's capabilities, as well as minimizing the identified threats.

Having a good selection of unique offers is one of those factors allowing a commercial organization to stand out from the competition. The classical example is the slogan-proposal FedEx: “When it is absolute, positively has to be there overnight”. Being in the same frequency range with the thoughts and moods of consumers, slogan resonates with the expectations of those for whom fast delivery is important.


6. Amplification of Positioning Strategy.

The target consumer has to remember the name of your brand or goods, form an attitude to it and give it properties that increase your attractiveness in the market. If you want the company to have a reputation as a manufacturer of premium products, then too low prices can provoke the opposite effect and dissuade customers from buying.

Many consumers follow the principle “you get what you pay for”. For them, the simple equation like “high price is equal to high quality” turns into a golden rule. In such cases, an increase in charges may lead to jumping the attractiveness of products. Price itself is an indicator of quality and exclusivity. Ferrari would not be a Ferrari if it cost only $ 100,000. Or we will give an example of the Belgian company of Delvaux, which significantly raised prices in connection with re-positioning the brand. Sales of bags have risen sharply, as consumers have considered this brand quite a worthy replacement for Louis Vuitton ones. In such case, the demand curve has a positive, rather than a negative, slope. So, the price policy and the status quo of the company should be maximally coordinated.


7. Choice Your Marketing Channels

 First, you need to know exactly the effectiveness of each channel. Such data will allow to accurately predicting the volume of future sales. If you make a special mailing to your regular customers, you can expect that a certain percentage will immediately take advantage of your offer. But from a banner or billboard, you should not expect instant sales. I.e., not all marketing channels can instantly stimulate trade.

Therefore, for each of them, goals must be defined. At the billboard, the main indicator is the number of calls to the office, whereas the guest blogging - the number of visits to your site. The advertisement announcement posted by the partners is the number of new customers. Apply pre-and post-sale service: what is offered to the customer before, during and after the purchase. For example, the possibility of a quick order increases the number of transactions twice.

Secondly, it is crucial to correctly allocate the marketing budget in order to get the maximum effect from investments. Often companies approach this issue chaotically, proposing small amounts to 1-2 marketing channels. This principle is fundamentally wrong. In the pricing strategy, the percentage of the marketing budget that you will use monthly must be initially set. The rule of distribution of available funds is very simple: choose 20% of channels that provide 80% of sales, and invest 80% of your budget in them. The remaining 15% is invested in less efficient channels, and 5% is in new communications.

Third, test new types of communications. Social networks have become an integral part of the marketing strategy of any business because each of the sites has a huge audience. You should find out in which social networks your customers spend time, and create corporate accounts on these sites.

Companies also use email marketing methods (newsletters, promo campaigns, service messages). But not all subscribers want to receive the same information. Good email marketing specialists are engaged in a segmentation of clients from the very beginning of the advertising campaign, and then continue to segment the user base through their activity and response. Due to this division, the company reduces the number of mailing lists, increases the viewing of advertising messages and, most importantly, raising the number of transitions to the site from emails.

The popularity of smartphones and tablets helped to change the approach of companies to attract customers. Since people keep devices close to themselves almost always, brands tend to implement strategies to communicate with people through their gadgets. But mobile marketing is very vulnerable because it is customers who determine the time and method of obtaining promotional materials.


8. Budget Planning

It is usually developed using the “profit-based” approach in the following sequence:

a) Prediction estimates of market capacity, rialtoshare, prices, sales income, variable and fixed costs are determined;

b) Calculation gross profit covering all costs, including marketing ones, and ensuring the receipt of the target profit.

c) Deduction of variables and fixed costs from gross profit.


9. Presence of Conversion Strategy

There are techniques by which potential consumers turn into those customers that actually make purchases. For example, improving the ordering process can increase the conversion rate. A similar effect is also having social activity (demonstrating customer testimonials that were glad to cooperate with the company) nearly always increases the conversion rate and sales volumes. Quality texts, photos, reviews also activate sales. Note that optimization of conversion is a process of continuous testing of ideas and hypotheses.

The South Korean oil company S-Oil, carrying out an advertising campaign to save fuel, used a rather simple but creative idea to attract the attention of drivers: the balloon tied to the asphalt in the parking lot freely floated in the air if space was free. The driver occupying the parking spot ran into the rope, which attracted the ball down, removing it from the field of view. In this uncomplicated way, S-Oil attracted the attention of its target group, helping drivers cope with the problem of finding parking for their car.

Other similar tools may include websites, brochures, business cards and catalogs. So, the line of grocery goods Lyfe Kitchen expanded the distribution of products and increased awareness of the brand through “word of mouth”. Having arranged a tasting and pleasing the quality and taste of its products by employees of the national sports organization and the editors of Self Magazine, the firm obtained positive reviews among the sports stars and in the articles of the popular magazine. As a result of this promotion, Lyfe Kitchen products became very popular and the number of sales points increased from 400 to 1,400 in just a few months.


10. Promotional Strategy

Attracting new customers and gaining the attention of the target audience is one of the key tasks for the amplification of the business of any scale and scope of activity. Increasingly, companies resort to event management. Oreo's team of marketers achieved popularity of their products by taking a passive part in actual events: the image of the “Royal Bottle” was created to support the theme of the birth of the heir to the British throne; the rainbow-colored cookie was a symbol of gay support, and the darkened picture with luminous cookies became popular due to the relevance of the news about the power outages on the main game of the year. These images were published on Twitter and attracted the attention of the media.

More than 8 million viewers watched the live broadcast of Felix Baumgartner's 37-kilometer jump from the stratosphere. It was sponsored by Red Bull has become widespread in the media and one of the most popular topics on Twitter. Felix has set 4 world records and collected more than 35 million views on YouTube.

Almost all major brands boast successful examples of event-marketing. So, the company Coca-cola in the nineties launched advertising with New Year's trucks, driving a drink through the cities. The slogan of the video “The Holiday Comes to Us!” has become an integral part of the New Year for residents of many countries. A vivid example of the successful event-marketing can be considered an incredibly beautiful share from Sony in the advertising of a new camera. Sony, together with inhabitants of a small town in Costa Rica, collected more than 3.5 tons of petals of flowers of various shades and poured them out onto the city. The spectacle was announced, and the photos of the event, shot on the advertised camera, spread all over the world. So, Sony introduced a new product in its lineup and forced consumers to associate their camera with a real explosion of color.

The non-standard approach to marketing sometimes gives much more effective and positive result than the classical presentation of the usefulness and quality of your products. Like it to someone or not, but to date, most customers get information about new products or services on the Internet. In such conditions, the existence of an effective strategy for Internet marketing provides unilateral competitive advantages.

The pillars of Internet marketing include the following elements:

  • Keyword strategy: identify keywords for optimizing your website.
  • Search engine optimization: make a list of updates for the site for greater visibility of the main keywords.
  • The strategy of paid online ads: make programs for paid ads, with the help of a planned expansion of the client base.
  • SMM: draw up a scheme according to which you plan to use social media in order to attract customers.

So, using just one promotion tool - guest posts and content marketing - the founder of social marketing BufferApp, Leo Vidric, attracted 100,000 users to the platform in just 9 months from the moment of opening. Starting from 1-2 articles a week and finishing 1-3 posts a day, in less than a year Leo increased the number of registered accounts from absolute absence to 100,000.

marketing plan tips for small businesses and entrepreneurs


11. Joint Ventures and Partnership Agreements

They involve cooperation with other organizations in order to increase the number of clients and to maximize the monetization of the current client base. Remember how McDonald's “friends” with Coca-Cola, and the manufacturers of household appliances with manufacturers of related products? You should create a list of substitutes for your customers. Then make a catalog of the companies from whom they buy it, and try to negotiate with them about collaboration.


12. Appointment of Responsible Persons

The distribution and consolidation of responsibility areas will allow to effectively implementing the plan of marketing activities. You should clearly understand who answer-ability is. Otherwise, you risk being in a situation where everyone is responsible for everything, and at the same time, for anything. It is crucial to coordinate deadlines and specific actions of both partners and outsourcing.


13. Distribution of Sales

It is required to detail the process of buying and make up a correct idea of he total sales of goods in several sections:

1) across the market; 2) for your segment; 3) through distribution channels; 4) by region of distribution. You should develop moves to increase the income from each client. For example, offer free shipping for VIP customers, a subscription to training or something else.

The appearance in Europe of giant supermarkets and suburban shopping centers in the 1970s and 1980s changed the structure of distribution of literally all goods. In Japan the number of stores per capital is much higher than in the US and Europe. The introduction of containerization and increased use and availability of air freight services also caused significant changes in the distribution structure.


14. Profitability Analysis

Typically, it can be carried out in three ways. As part of the analysis of marketing costs, the effectiveness of various marketing factors is evaluated. Analysis of the results of marketing activities is a detailed study of sales results to assess the correctness of a particular strategy. Marketing audit is a systematic objective and critical assessment, review of the main goals and policies of the functions when implementing this policy, with the achievement of the set goals. An obligatory condition in this direction is the dependence of wages on the performance of duties.


15. Strategies for Increasing A Number of Transactions

The main goal when working with a potential customer is to make a purchase possible, but it is also important to pay attention to the total amount of the transaction. If the average customer's check of one company is $ 100, and the average one of a competing firm is $ 150, then you have to conclude that the latter has an amount of financial revenues, and possibly profits, an order of magnitude higher. As a result, this firm has more funds for the advertising campaign and opportunities to expand its market share.


16. Preservation of “old” Customers

Some organizations spend a lot of time and energy on attracting new customers, neglecting the current ones. With the help of monthly mailings or programs to raise customer loyalty, it seems possible to increase the volume of financial revenues and, consequently, profits. This is possible by enhancing the frequency of purchases.

Among such offers can be free trial versions, guarantees for money back, package services (for example, a combination of different products and / or services) and discounts. Some business organizations may not need such special offers, but their use will definitely contribute to the expansion of the client base. If you want existing customers to bring their friends and acquaintances, create a referral program. Formalized strategies of recommendations, as a rule, are not very successful. For example, for positive feedback, the client is rewarded.


17. Financial Planning

Here you can make the cost of the promo campaign and the expected result from them as new customers, sales, and profits. Or you can describe the results from a new campaign to keep current clients and stuff. Financial planning cannot be 100% accurate, but still allows determining which strategies will bring the highest return on investment. In addition, it provides an opportunity to identify long-term and short-term goals that the company is going to achieve.

So put together all the data on the upcoming expenses. This will give you an idea of he amount required. Do you have enough resources? If you need a loan or a grant, then what amount should you target? Within a year, go back to your notes, check with them and draw parallels.


18. Execution Plan

This is an operational or tactical structure in the monthly breakdown, which includes specific programs and activities designed to achieve the goals. It is mandatory to monitor key indicators, which will assess the effectiveness of marketing programs, and priority areas for implementing the plan.


19. Assumptions, Resources and Key Risks

When planning a strategy, we proceed from the current factors of the external and internal environment. But increasingly it becomes almost impossible to predict the actions of competitors. Therefore, it is crucial to present to management in advance all the assumptions that were made when amplificating the strategy, note the key risks and require additional resources for effective implementation of the planned projects.

It also needs to focus on the influence of factors that cannot be controlled, namely: fashion, trends, seasonality, social and cultural characteristics, demographic nuances, political situation in the country as a whole. The perception of some goods by buyers is largely determined by local traditions and conditions, as well as by national cultural attitudes. British black pudding and shepherd pie is unlikely to win popularity with consumers in Italy or Spain, as sour cabbage will sell well in Scotland. American refrigerators are too large for Japanese homes.

Changes in exchange rates affect the competitiveness of your product relative to local counterparts and determine the decision on the expediency of organizing their production in the selected country. For car manufacturers and detergents, for example, the environmental policy of the state is of great importance. As a rule, the national legislation strictly regulates sales of drugs and pharmaceutical products. In some countries certain types of fertilizers and pesticides can be controlled or banned.


20. Presentation of Marketing Strategy

Without business model of work, the marketing plan will not be complete. The latter shows the projected growth in sales from programs, the crucial budget for programs, net profit and profitability of sales.

Summarizing, let's give a list of things that should be avoided when creating a marketing plan:

a) Dumbness of specifics and figures.

A marketing plan should not consist only of general abstract categories. For example, “increase profits”, “expand the client base” or “widen the range” are immeasurable concepts. But “to cut expenses by 30% compared to the previous year”, “to get 100 new customers within six months”, and “to offer a new product within a week” are specifically designated goals.

b) Excessively creative approach.

Do not forget about conservatives who prefer traditional models and may not understand the information message in the form of a flash mob.

c) The idea that “marketing is just advertising”.

Marketing should be regarding as identification of consumer needs, the amplification of the relevant product, the establishment of pricing systems, product distribution and effective sales promotion, the impact on the formation of demand. But lot businesspersons consider marketing only the last point.

It is not easy to make a complete marketing plan. But it's worth because it will allow you to see in advance where you can wait for financial problems, where sales will be requested and which channel of distribution will not give impact. The lack of a marketing plan leads to spontaneous amplification of the company, the conflict of existing options for promotion, the dispersion of funds, efforts, time. An effective marketing plan contributes to the attractiveness of the products and the increase in the company's profits.

Nicole Clark is a freelance writer and deeply engaged in studying educational topics. She has experience writing for famous media and educational blogs and runs her own blog on Studymoose.com, while also helping students with writing essays and dissertations.