Did you miss Madico’s recent webinar on “How to Create a Marketing Plan”? Or, maybe you attended and are eager to get a plan started for your business, but want to review the material again? Either way, we’ve got you covered.
We know you’re busy, and that we covered a lot of material in 45 minutes, so we’ve outlined the steps you need to take to create your marketing plan in this article. You can also reference all the slides from the PowerPoint presentation (as a PDF) by downloading here.
Why do I need a marketing plan?
We know some of you may not have employees, but if you do, planning and having a roadmap to follow can serve as a rallying point for you and your team. Even if you only employ one or two people, if you want them to feel committed to your company, it’s important to share your vision of where the company is headed. And even if you’re a solo-preneur, it’s still very important to have a roadmap for your future.
The other reasons you need a marketing plan include budgeting, being prepared for the possibility of needing to secure a loan, and dealing with advertising opportunities. Companies that are successful in marketing invariably start with a marketing plan. Big companies have plans with hundreds of pages; small companies can get by with just 6 pages or so.
Who needs to be involved in creating your marketing plan?
It’s not a good idea to do a marketing plan without getting other people involved. No matter what size your company is, you should definitely get feedback from other people, inside or outside your company. If you do have employees, they can provide good input. And if you don’t, you can still talk to your tinters – they interact with your customers often and probably have good information. You may also get feedback from your office manager, and maybe even some of your suppliers.
What should the plan include?
1. Introduction (Description of Business)
2. Market Situation (Products, Market Area or Geography, Audience, Competition)
3. Threats & Opportunities
4. Marketing Objectives
5. Marketing Budget
6. Executive Summary
What do I need to get started?
Before you get started on your marketing plan, there are some things you’ll need to pull together:
1. Financials. Your company’s latest financial reports (profit & loss statement or P&L, and your operating budget) for the past 3 years (or if less, depending on how long you’ve been in business). If you don’t handle your own books, ask your bookkeeper or CPA to pull the reports for you.
2. Products and Services. Make a list of each product or service offered by your company, including the target market (or markets) for each one. It’s usually enlightening to business owners when they go through this exercise because there are almost always some “aha moments” that come out of it.
3. Understanding of your Market. Jot down 2-3 paragraphs about your understanding of your market, meaning: competitors, geographical boundaries, types of customers you sell to. This is a great exercise to involve other people in – they will almost always have some additional perspectives or things you haven’t thought of.
4. Organizational Chart. if you have 6 or more employees, you should also create an org chart – to make this easy, just use any one of the free templates available in Word, Excel, Outlook, or even PowerPoint.
So once you’ve gathered all of your information, the first section you’ll want to write is your “market situation“. This should be about a page, or maybe two if needed. It should include your best and most clear-headed description of the current state of your marketplace:
• What are your products and services?
• Historically, how have your products and services sold?
• What geographic area(s) do you sell to?
• Describe your audience(s) in terms of demographics
• Who are your competitors?
To view a market situation example, see slide 7.
Threats and Opportunities
• What trends in the marketplace are working against you?
• Are there competitive trends that are threatening?
• Are your current products poised to succeed in the market as it now exists?
• What trends in the marketplace favor you?
• Are there competitive trends working to your benefit?
• Are the demographics of your market in your favor? Against you?
To view threats and opportunities examples, see slides 9 & 10.
This is where you paint your picture of the future: What marketing objectives do you want to achieve over the course of the plan?
• Be specific
• Start with the past
• Be realistic
• Keep it simple
To view marketing objectives examples, see slides 12, 13 & 14.
Whether done well or done poorly, marketing always costs money. Your marketing plan needs to have a section where you allocate budgets for each activity planned. If there are other people in your company responsible for portions of the marketing activity, they should know exactly what funds are available to them. In fact, you should definitely involve them in planning those budgets.
To view a marketing budget example, see slide 16.
Once you’ve finished writing the 5 sections of your plan, you’ll need to put together a brief executive summary. On a single page, sum up the contents of your marketing plan. Use bullet points, short sentences and bold type for major points, and stay focused on the big issues. What does someone need to know about your plan to have any sense of it?
This summary gives readers a concise description of what your company plans to do in the coming year. It also forces you to boil your thoughts down to their essence, which is always a good thing.
To view executive summary examples, see slide 22 & 23.
Get Started Now!
So what are you waiting for? Start putting together a marketing plan for your business. If you do, we’re sure you’ll find that putting in the effort teaches you a lot about your own business, and helps to make you more successful.