What Magic Happens When A Business Marketing Plan Comes Together?

For most business owners the key to success lies in a solid marketing plan with strong marketing tactics.

A marketing plan is a blueprint that outlines a company’ overall marketing efforts.

There are a ton of plan templates readily available on the internet.

Taking advantage of these plan templates and marketing calendars can help determine the success or failure of your business in 2015

Now, what happens when a marketing plan comes together?

1. You will discover who your best most important audience is and what your clients want from you

Hopefully you are creating and offering products and services with a specific target audience in mind.

However, you may find that clients, customers and patients other than your targeted audience will also been able to benefit from what you have to offer.

Understanding who your audience is a key component in marketing, sales and improving your services and/or products.

2. Increases awareness of your company

Most people won’t pay any attention to your company, unless they need you. They only care about themselves, it human nature.

A marketing plan enables you to formulate a way to help future clients see the benefits of using your product or service. When done right, this establishes your credibility in the marketplace and hopefully solidifies your business as a reliable source.

3. You will be prepared.

When you have a good marketing strategy you’ll be surprised at how fast your company will be able to respond to unexpected marketing and developments from your competition.

A well-written plan that covers all bases will include a projection on possible threats and detailed ways you can respond or capitalize off them.

4. Obtaining Finance

Companies, including small businesses often need to acquire extra financing.

A well-thought out business plan along with detailed marketing is evidence of good planning which could be extremely helpful in obtaining loans.

Without a solid business plan and marketing strategy, even the most profitable business would have a difficult time getting financing. Free sample marketing plans are readily available online, they can serve as good examples while saving you time creating your documents.

5. Save Money

One of the biggest benefits of a marketing strategy that your business is more likely to save money.

The average marketing plan includes a set budget that will be used in your marketing efforts for the year.

Yes, by outline your marketing plans, and specifying how much money is going to be used to support various marketing efforts it helps your company save a lot of money on unplanned marketing campaigns.

If you and your team hasn’t sat down to develop a marketing plan for the year, it’s time to do so now.

Start off with a marketing template to help outline your company’s marketing strategies the expand from there.

There are so many benefits from having a marketing plan that it would be insane to start 2015 without one.

The e-Marketing Plan – Brief Overview and Working Scheme

I. Summary of a marketing plan

The marketing planning (concretized in the marketing plan) is an essential organizational activity, considering the hostile and complex competitive business environment. Our ability and skills to perform profitable sales are affected by hundreds of internal and external factors that interact in a difficult way to evaluate. A marketing manager must understand and build an image upon these variables and their interactions, and must take rational decisions.

Let us see what do we call a “marketing plan”? It is the result of the planning activity, a document that includes a review of the organization’s place in the market, an analysis of the STEP factors as well as a SWOT analysis. A complete plan would also formulate some presumptions on why we think the past marketing strategy was successful or not. The next phase shall present the objectives we set, together with the strategies to achieve these objectives. In a logical sequence, we will further need to evaluate the results and formulate alternative plans of action. A plan would consist in details of responsibilities, costs, sales prognosis and budgeting issues.

In the end, we should not forget to specify how the plan (or plans) will be controlled, by what means we will measure its results.

We will see how to build the marketing plan, what is its structure: after we will see how to build the traditional marketing plan, we will take a look at the e-marketing plan and see how the unique features of the internet will require some changes in the approach of writing a marketing plan.

But, before we continue, we must understand and accept that steps of the marketing plan are universal. It is a logical approach of the planning activity, no matter where we apply it. The differences you meet from a plan to another consist in the degree of formality accorded to each phase, depending on the size and nature of the organization involved. For example, a small and not diversified company would adopt less formal procedures, because the managers in these cases have more experience and functional knowledge than the subordinates, and they are able to achieve direct control upon most factors. On the other hand, in a company with diversified activity, it is less likely that top managers have functional information in a higher degree than the subordinate managers. Therefore, the planning process must be formulated to ensure a strict discipline for everyone involved in the decisional chain.

II. The general marketing plan

The classical marketing plan would follow the following scheme of 8 stages:

1. Declaring the mission: this is the planning stage when we establish the organizational orientations and intentions, thus providing a sense of direction. In most cases, this is a general presentation of the company’s intentions and almost has a philosophic character.

2. Establishing current objectives: it is essential for the organization to try to determine with preciseness the objectives to be reached. These objectives, in order to be viable, must be SMART. SMART is an acronym and stands for “Specific”, “Measurable”, “Attainable”, “Realistic” and “Timed”. The objectives must also convey the general organizational mission.

3. Gathering information: this stage is based on the concept of marketing audit. After performing the audit of the macro-environment by analyzing the STEP factors (social, technologic, economic and politic), we should turn the focus upon the immediate extern environment (the micro-environment) and analyze the competitive environment, the costs and the market. Finally, we will conclude with the SWOT analysis, by this way we will have a general view upon the internal environment compared to the external one. The SWOT analysis combine the two perspectives, from the inside and from the outside, because the Strengths and the Weaknesses are internal issues of an organization, while the Opportunities and Threads come from the outside.

4. Re-formulating objectives: after the close examination of data gathered in the previous stage, sometimes it is needed to re-formulate the initial objectives, in order to address all the issues that might have come up from the previous stage. The distance between the initial objective and the re-formulated objective will be covered by appropriate strategies. We must ensure the re-formulated objective is SMART as well.

5. Establishing strategies: several strategies are to be formulated, in order to cover the distance between what we want to achieve and what is possible to achieve, with the resources at our disposal. As we would usually have several options, we should analyze them and chose the one with more chances to achieve the marketing objectives.

6. Plan of actions: consists in a very detailed description of the procedures and means to implement the actions we want to take. For example, if the strategy implies a raise in advertising volume, the plan of actions should establish where the advertisements will be placed, the dates and frequency of the advertising campaigns, a set of procedures to evaluate their effectiveness. The actions we plan to take must be clearly formulated, measurable, and the results must be monitored and evaluated.

7. Implementation and control: consist in the series of activities that must be performed in order to run the marketing plan in accordance to the objectives set by the marketer. At this stage, it is critical to gain the support of all members if the organization, especially when the marketing plan is due to affect the organization from its grounds.

8. Performance measurement: constitutes the last but not the less important stage of the marketing plan, since we can achieve only what we can measure. In order to measure the performances achieved through the marketing plan, we need to constantly monitor each previous stage of the plan.

The marketing plan that has a feedback cycle, from 8th stage back to the 4th. That is because sometimes during the planning process, we might need to perform stages 4 to 8 several times before the final plan can be written.

III. The e-marketing plan

The e-marketing plan is built exactly on the same principles as the classical plan. There is no different approach, but there might be some formal differences given by the uniqueness of the internet environment. Many of these differences come from the necessity to ensure a high rate of responsiveness from the customers, since the e-world is moving faster and requires faster reaction from its companies, compared to the traditional offline marketplace.

Even though it is perfectly acceptable and is a common practice to use the 8-stage classic model for the e-marketing plan as well, you might want to consider the simplified version proposed by Chaffey, who identifies four major steps to build the e-marketing plan:

1. Strategic analysis: consists in continuous scanning of the macro- and micro-environment. The accent should fall on the consumers’ needs that change very rapidly in the online market, as well as on surveying the competitors’ actions and evaluating the opportunities offered by new technologies.

2. Defining strategic objectives: the organization must have a clear vision and establish if the media channels will complement the traditional ones, or will replace them. We must define specific objectives (don’t forget to check if they are SMART!) and we must also specify the contribution of the online activities to the organization’s turnover.

3. Formulating strategies – we do that by addressing the following essential issues:

– develop strategies towards the target markets;

– positioning and differentiating strategies;

– establish priorities of online activities;

– focus attention and efforts on CRM and financial control;

– formulate strategies for product development;

– develop business models with well-established strategies for new products or services, as well as pricing policies;

– necessity for some organizational restructuring;

– changes in the structure of communication channels.

4. Implementing strategies: includes careful execution of all necessary steps to achieve established objectives. It could refer re-launching of a website, promo campaigns for a new or rewritten site, monitoring website efficiency and many more.

Note: a common strategy to achieve e-marketing objectives is the communication strategy. The steps to built a coherent communication plan will be presented within a further article.

IV. The e-marketing plan (sample titles)

1. Executive Summary

a. overview upon present conjuncture;

b. key aspects of the strategic e-marketing plan.

2. Situational Analysis

a. characteristics of the e-market;

b. possible factors of success;

c. competitors’ analysis;

d. technological factors;

e. legal factors;

f. social factors;

g. possible problems and opportunities.

3. The e-Marketing Objectives

a. product profile;

b. target market;

c. sales objectives.

4. The e-Marketing Strategies

a. product strategies;

b. price strategies;

c. promotion strategies;

d. distribution strategies.

5. Technical Issues

a. website content;

b. website “searcheability”;

c. logging security (for customers and staff);

d. customer registration procedure;

e. multimedia;

f. autoresponders;

g. order forms and feedback forms;

h. access levels to online resources;

i. credit card transactions;

j. website hosting;

k. website publishing;

l. technical staff (size, requirements)

6. Appendix

7. Bibliography

Do You Have A Marketing Plan?

Not having a marketing plan is like building a home without a blueprint, you may get the job done, but it will be completely by accident. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to rely on an accident. I want a sound plan so I know what steps to take and when.

So how do you create a marketing plan that will work? You take from those that are successful and see how they have done it. No matter what your niche there is someone that has been there and done the ground work for you.

A good marketing plan must start with connections and the best way to make connections is with social websites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. If you don’t have an account with these three I suggest you get one fast. Set up your profile on each as completely as you can. This should be step one for anyone with an online business and where you should start.

Any marketing plan for an online business also needs backlinks to make your presents stronger. The easiest way to get backlinks is from forums. Be sure to select one that is clearly in your niche. Look to your favorite search engine for forums that fit, then monitor them for a while to get a feel for them. Once you feel comfortable with it start a thread or post comments to thread that are already there.

With any marketing plan there must be strategy for getting traffic, either free or paid. Free traffic comes from search engines and SEO practices are responsible for your success here. Paid can be anything from PPC or banner ads. Either method will get you targeted traffic if done right and advertising is something that has to be included.

Keeping to your plan is something you have to commit to from its inception. If it is sound it will work, but you have to give it time. Once you have started you need to stay consistent. It has to do with branding, which is mostly about name or product recognition and included in every marketing plan I’ve seen that was effective.

Since it is so important to your success it must be carefully constructed, including not only getting traffic, but converting traffic. This is where copywriting comes in to play. If you don’t know much about copywriting I suggest you learn or put hiring a good copywriter in your budget.

Every online marketing plan should include:

  • An easy-to-navigate website
  • Identify your target audience
  • Strategize to get traffic to that site
  • Any ideas to brand your name or product
  • Identify your strengths and weaknesses
  • A budget to pay for advertising and copywriting
  • Look at areas that need to be outsourced
  • Develop the basics of marketing
  • Determine how to combat your competition
  • Prioritize your basic steps

Each and every year you need to review and reassess it. Scrutinize each facet of it to see what worked well and what did not. The strategies that work well should be analyzed to see why it worked and how to make it better. Also look at any way this strategy can be utilized in other areas of your marketing efforts.

The marketing plan is the lifeblood of a business. Its success is determined by the research done at the onset of the planning process. Correct evaluations are a must for its success.

A marketing plan that works well is a beauty to behold for the business owner. Sales and high profits are the reward. Before you do anything you need to assess the feasibility of the product and the best way to do this is by creating it as best you can.

If the marketing plan elements seem to fall into place after your research is done you will know you have a winner. If however your elements don’t seem to look all that promising you will know that you need to rethink your product to change it and make it more conducive before going on with the project.

Once you have a marketing plan you will see just how important it is and why you need to carefully construct it. The real needs of the business are dependent on the marketing plan.