As Q4 of the current fiscal year draws to a close, it is the time of the year when companies need to start thinking about their 2018 budgets. This can understandably be a very stressful time of year for anyone involved in this type of decision-making. With planning being such a key aspect of running a business, it is surprising just how many small and mid-sized companies neglect to incorporate marketing into their yearly plan for success. While many business owners are used to creating a marketing budget “on the fly,” it’s quite beneficial for marketing to be accounted for in any business’s annual planning. Below, we will discuss typical marketing plans and why they are so important to the success of your business.
You may be thinking, “What exactly does a marketing plan entail?” A marketing plan is essentially a strategic document that is meant to map out how your company’s marketing strategy will support your short and long term business goals. A basic marketing plan can be broken up into four main components: Goals, Analysis, Strategy and Budget. A marketing plan utilizes these four components to help you stay on track to reach your objectives.
Let’s start by talking about the Goals section of your marketing plan. As the name implies, this section will outline what your short term and long term objectives for your business are. Do you want to increase profits by 40%? Boost brand awareness? Drive more traffic to your new website? Your marketing plan should keep these goals in mind. Make sure to look at your goals for the previous year. Did you meet these goals? If not, tweak your strategy to try and better accomplish them. Look at what worked and what did not. If you did meet your goals, take a look to see how you can continue this upward momentum and further grow your business.
Another important part of your goals section should include your target market. Who are you trying to reach with your brand messaging and product & service offerings?
After setting goals for your business, it is time to do a little bit of research. The Analysis section of your marketing plan should consist of a few different sources of data. First, it is beneficial to look at historical data from past marketing plans. Analyze which parts of your strategy were successful and which parts were not. What kinds of trends have you noticed? This is all valuable data that can be applied to future marketing plans.
After viewing your own historical data, you will want to do some market research. Unfortunately, not every company has the capacity to create massive research initiatives. This is when it can be helpful to look towards larger research firms. For many industries, the information you seek is already out there! Take a look at trends within your industry and make note of competitors. This data will be valuable when building your marketing plan.
After reviewing market research, it can be beneficial to do a competitive analysis for your company. Competitive analysis is where you take a look at your industry as a whole and analyze the placement of you and your competitors in it. This is where you should take a look at many of the available competitive analysis that exist to help you in your research.
While every Marketing 101 textbook has numerous different competitive analysis tools to help you scope out your place in your industry, one of the most popular and commonly used is called a SWOT Analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. A SWOT analysis looks at your company’s own internal strengths and weaknesses as well as external opportunities and threads within the industry. Creating a SWOT analysis can help you better understand where your company stands among your competition. Use this any any other tools you can find to put together the best competitive analysis possible.
After your analysis is complete, it’s time to get into the real meat of your marketing plan. Your Strategy section is an overview of all the different individual marketing initiatives that you will use to accomplish your business goals. This includes branding, web development, digital advertising, social media, content creation, SEO, traditional media, etc. Do you plan to run an aggressive Google Adwords campaign to drive online sales? What about a new website to increase your brand’s online footprint? Any of these initiatives should all be part of your company’s strategy.
Finally comes the part of your marketing plan that most business folks dread; the Budget. In a dream world, you’d have an unlimited marketing budget… but since this is not the case, you’ll need to make sure that each part of your marketing strategy fits within your annual operating budget. Those who have not engaged with a marketing agency may not know how much certain initiatives will cost or how much budget should be set aside to help your marketing be effective. This is where working with your agency to plan ahead can be very useful!
If you’ve never put together a marketing plan before, it can be a daunting task. Properly analyzing your marketing, creating an effective strategy and creating a proper budget are all pieces of this complex puzzle. This is where DRM can help! DRM is a full-service marketing agency based in Cleveland that specializes in creating comprehensive marketing plans for clients. Our goal is to be your one-stop-shop for all of your marketing needs, so feel free to approach us with any of your challenges or ideas! To set up a free marketing consultation, give us a call at (330) 274-7658 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about how we can help grow your business, visit our website.