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Wednesday Oct 10, 2018

Writing a Marketing Plan like a Pro

It is your first time facing marketing plan writing, and you don't know how to start? Take your time and study our article. Here, we've gathered the relevant information and recommendations on how to understand the issue of marketing — a great business strategy that will help you succeed. That is not just the salaries this month, summer team building, or reading the "Marketing of Library and Information Services: International Perspectives." It is a process with various stages and specifications, and we are going to help you with it. In this article, you will find out how to write a marketing plan to rest on the laurels of success.

Marketing Plan — the Basics

Marketing strategy section is important for any team that works with customers and promotes products or services. If you deal with small business or are a part of a great enterprise, you need a road map that will help your business to stay afloat and develop. As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. That is why you have to consider every step of your business in the long run. You will need a comprehensive marketing plan that will help you:

  • attract customers;
  • develop your brand;
  • stay competitive;
  • manage the finances;
  • increase reliability, etc.

The marketing tactics may be defined as a written document that summarizes all business operations required to reach the target audience and means to monitor the processes. It is a good thing about this plan — it covers all the aspects that shouldn't be neglected. Therefore, knowing how to write a marketing plan involves identifying the most reasonable prices, offering your clients the most attractive options, and developing your content strategy in accordance with demographic, psychological, and social criteria.

As the basis of your strategy, this paper is crucial for handling the ever-changing business environment. It can be modified at any stage of the implementation process. On the other hand, it is just a piece of paper that, alone, cannot boost your sales, increase your profit, or ensure your marketing success. However, in order to achieve the intended results, it should be organized properly.

And, that is exactly what we're going to talk about next.

The Components of Your Marketing Plan

As with any other document, a marketing plan requires a synopsis, which gives the reader an overview of the whole plan, as well as introduces your organization by providing some kind of a guide to your business. Please, keep in mind that the better this part is, the more investors and partners you'll be able to interest.

Since this section requires an overview of your writing, here are the aspects you'd better cover.

  • Product definition
    What services or/and goods you offer and how they differ from other available on the market.
  • Buyer personas image
    How to approach your target customers and what means of communication to use.
  • Promotion means
    How you are going to distribute the products, and what the best ways to do that are.
  • Possible changes
    The perspectives of the market and how to come hand-in-hand with them.
  • Time management
    Allocate the efforts wisely depending on the time you have.

These are the main points, and you can (and need) explore more of them while preparing the marketing strategy. For example, it will be helpful to examine your business area with tools and factors through the prism of social media management or content marketing (posts and advertisements), unusual selling offers, etc. To measure the effectiveness of your inbound marketing plan, set specific standards of business for yourself. Depending on your goals, business environment, and deadlines, the criteria can include sales increase data, feedback from the clients, market share growth, brand awareness, etc. It is a significant stage of your plan that can help you gain control over the implementation process.

Defining Your Core Competencies

Core competency is something that gives you an advantage over your competitors. Some things that can help you develop core competencies and stand out from the crowd include achieving the widespread use of your services and making it too difficult to imitate. Also, think about other benefits you can offer the clients to get them to use your product or service. That will help to write a marketing plan thoroughly.

Conduct a situation analysis of your company. At this stage, you also consider the strengths/weaknesses and opportunities of your business. Analyze your company's activities over the past year, remember all the challenges you had to deal with. That way, you will see what aspects of your business environment need improvement, what are the spheres of your activity, etc. There also could be some projects that are unprofitable, and it will be a good decision to leave them behind.

To perform efficient research, you need to do a SWOT analysis. SWOT is an acronym.

  • Strengths
    Resources, competitive advantages, and other positive aspects impacting your business's development
  • Weaknesses
    Distracting factors, lack of resources or services, technological background, etc.
  • Opportunities
    Beneficial factors, problem-solving strategies, etc.
  • Threats
    Risks and factors that are difficult to control.

Be sure to implement these principles into your writing to gain a broader view of your company. That will help to figure out your marketing objectives and see the direction in which you develop.

Core Buyer Persona

The buyer persona is your typical customer. This image includes your clients' factors, such as demographic, psychological, and social elements you can use to focus on the clients' variety better. Make sure to use the most effective channels of communication to get the needed feedback, answer customer's questions, and inform them about any updates and possible changes. Remember that the more data you have, the more ways of appealing to your target purchasers you'll be able to provide.

Once you've identified your ideal customer, you can move on to planning a more targeted marketing strategy. When you know the target audience, you are one step ahead of competitors. But what about segmenting these people and locating your products if their range is quite wide? One way of achieving that is by analyzing your customer's:

  • age group;
  • ethnical group;
  • beliefs and interests;
  • income (interconnected with prices);
  • marital status;
  • lifestyle;
  • hobbies;
  • social status;
  • career, etc.

By doing so, you'll be able to describe your ideal customer in each region and apply these details to create relevant advertising and promotion of the assistance services and/or goods you provide. Here, you can benefit from using different analytic services. They can reveal the coverage of, for example, your advertising, the age groups of people who follow the links on your websites, etc. Have you ever thought about how many customers buy from you and use your services? What does make people visit your website and rely on your products? If your business plan is done profoundly, all these elements play an important role in marketing.

So, always find out who is your target audience. When the image is complete, you can consider the buyer's journey (through your web page or in a real shop/department).

  • Do they visit your site mostly to buy the product or just to find the information?
  • How frequently do they click on the links and buttons?
  • How much time do they spend on your website or in your shop?

When writing a plan, consider this information. By knowing your customer, you become more and more confident in meeting their needs, and that is one more sign of business success.

4 P's Mix

This mix includes four important business elements — Product, Place, Promotion, and Price. Any offline or online marketing strategy should build on these principles to strengthen and develop the company's brand. Those 4 P's can:

  1. inform about what your Product exactly is;
  2. let you make some Price decisions (depending on the product and other factors);
  3. help to work out the best Promotional strategy;
  4. evaluate the best Place (location) to promote and sell your product.

This information can be useful both for your clients and buyers and you. It is important not to stop the work on your products and services, improve them, and look for new ways and areas to conquer. Also, these 4 P's can be included in your marketing plan or considered in advance to make your writing even more informative and precise.

Proper Pricing Strategy

A lot of experts say that Price is the most important of the four marketing P's. Being more than just a number, it sends your customer a positive message, supports your promotional success, and maximizes your profit. Be sure to keep that in mind when working on a marketing plan.

Moreover, the pricing policy and its wise management will be useful not only for clients but also for your possible partners. So, if you plan a budget or consider any changes in prices, apply discounts or special offers, packages, and so on, cooperation with your team will be much more productive and convenient.

Ongoing marketing efforts

You might need a marketing plan to analyze the statistics and send your business sources in the right direction. It is easy to start, but what is more important is to be able to stay on the market.

Depending on the goal you intend to reach, you should think about the tools that can help you supplement your plan components. Ongoing efforts are the channels you use to increase the visibility of your product — videos, newsletters, SEO-optimization options, blog articles, social media activities, etc. Ensure your customers have access to your company's content and are informed about any updates on time. Today, the variety of platforms you can use in order to provide a relevant SMM activity is wide: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and many others.

Final Touches

Preparation of a business plan takes a lot of time and effort. It requires you to check your facts thoroughly and adapt to the ever-changing environment of a particular industry. It is a complicated process. That involves keeping in mind all your goals and paying attention to last year's activity, spendings, and profit. Your writing should address a whole range of different components. They are budget, strategies, tactics, target audience influence methods, tools, etc. On the Web, you can find awesome marketing plan samples and templates. But, we would like to recall everything we have discussed previously, and list the important stages and elements that should be in your plan.

  • Overview of your business
  • The products and/or services you offer
  • What makes your items different?
  • Target audience and buyer persona
  • Your marketing objectives
  • Strategies: promotion, distribution, pricing
  • Your finance management

This outline is generalized, and your content strategy of the plan may vary depending on a lot of circumstances. However, we hope our guide was informative for you, and now, you are ready to write a perfect marketing plan.

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