Posted: Mon 9th Oct 2017
Thinking about promoting your small business? Jazz Gakhal from Direct Line for Business discusses the marketing plan preparation process.
Preparing a marketing plan requires advance planning. As the sector your business works in evolves, new trends emerge and technology gets more and more advanced, your marketing plan should be reactive to those changes.
It's a working document, adjustable to changes rather than a fixed plan. Want to know how to create a successful marketing plan? Here’s what you should focus on.
Thorough research is a foundation of every plan, the same goes for marketing planning.
You need to identify and analyse your competitors. It's really important to know who your competitors are.
Subscribing to competitors' newsletters, following them on social media and analysing their content should be enough to keep up to date with the industry leaders.
Once you know your competitors' better, you should carry out a SWOT analysis to spot your business's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to help you form your objectives.
You should also focus on understanding your target audience (your ideal customer). You can do this by creating the buyer personas.
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on the information you have about your existing customers.
If you're a new business with no customers yet, you can look at competitors' customers as a starting point, which you can later amend based on your own clients.
Creating buyer personas will allow you to understand better what your prospective customers are thinking when they're looking for your type of service and product and if and when they approach your business.
It will also help you tailor your marketing plan to them. Following the research phase you can decide on formulating your marketing plan strategy.
Marketing plan strategy
A good marketing plan should include following elements:
Clear business goals
Specify your business goals to keep your marketing efforts focused on the right things. Having clear goals will also help you prioritise marketing activities’?
Discover and promote your USP
Identifying and promoting the unique selling point of your business is vital when getting a competitive advantage on the market.
Therefore it's really important to keep mentioning your business' USP on your website, on social media, in your advertising and in marketing emails.
Establish your brand
Raising and developing brand awareness when getting across strong brand messages and values will help gain your business customer loyalty. As such, it's important for your business to invest in consistent brand marketing, especially at the beginning.
But marketing can't all be about building up brand awareness. You also need to inform your audience about the value and uniqueness of your business for potential customers to consider your products/services and become your leads.
That is why including relevant, helpful content creation is so important when preparing your marketing plan.
Invest in SEO and content marketing
Ensure your website works well for both its users and search engines, such as Google and Microsoft Bing.
What you can do is look at your competitor's websites to spot what you could do that you haven't done yet on your website. In marketing, this potential activity is called a content gap.
Having spotted any content gaps, invest some of your budget in creating new content. This content on your website could provide valuable information to your customers about your product or services, build your business up as experts in your field, and demonstrate that your company is a brand that can be trusted.
After all, it's not just your clientele which will appreciate informative and useful content but search engines like Google will too.
You'll also need to figure out which content to serve and at what point in the journey people are when potentially buying your product or service.
For example, blog posts and guides are often beneficial when increasing your brand awareness. Video content and webinars as well as expert guides become more important later on in the buying cycle.
Before your customers decide to buy any of your products or services you could help them by providing exhaustive product-focused content, product/services comparisons, some successful case studies, or offering free trials.
They may also look at reviews and forums and by responding to posts online you can thank people for their nice comments and respond to bad reviews to clear up any misleading opinions and also show your business cares about its customers.
Once you have content strategy in place, you’ll have to decide where to distribute it. You will definitely have to promote your content as otherwise it may not be seen, read, or watched.
There are many marketing channels you can use to promote your content. You may consider: TV, radio, SEO, PPC, email marketing, social.
If you can, make sure relevant tracking is in place and measure all marketing activity to see what is working and what isn’t. You can then amend your marketing plan based on what you’ve learnt.
Having researched competitors and your buyers you will be able to decide on the marketing activity which will allow you to attract the most potential customers and, in turn, sales. You may find that there will be a few activities and various channels you'll need to use.
If you struggle with creating your own business marketing plan, there are many marketing plan templates and examples online. Go here for some useful resources. For marketing a product, follow these steps.
A good marketing plan is vital to your business development. It doesn't only help your customers understand why your product or service is better than, or different from, the competition, but keeps you focused on what’s important for your overall business strategy.