Last Update: April 20, 2015
Why do entrepreneurs need a marketing plan? It’s simple. A marketing plan acts as the blueprint for how you will drive growth. Without a blueprint it is hard to measure achievement, much less increase profitability.
Many entrepreneurs start off as solopreneurs — a one woman or one man show. In the process it becomes necessary to wear multiple hats (e.g., a salesman, marketer, researcher, etc.). The more you have to do, the less time you have to spend on difficult learning curves — especially when it comes to marketing.
With this in mind, I’ve trimmed the fat on a standard marketing plan. A simple and user friendly marketing plan should consist of six key areas:
1. Situational Analysis (SWOT)
Discuss your product/service, the value proposition and market served. Take inventory of four key areas: your strengths, weaknesses, market opportunities and threats (i.e. barriers to entry, competition, etc.).
2. Target Audience
Take a broad look at the market and drill down into the niche target your product/service will benefit. A review of the industry served followed by customers (segmenting if necessary) and the category (if applicable).
3. Objectives and Goals
Focus on the big picture. What are you trying to achieve with your marketing efforts? This is the overarching umbrella that covers everything that is developed. Be specific.
Decide how you will carry out your main objectives. (i.e. Increase brand awareness using targeted online advertising.).
Tactics are your foot soldiers and they should be set for battle at the front lines. Hence, you can accomplish strategies through targeted tactics. A small business with limited resources may want to focus on direct advertising, promotions, PR, trade shows, direct response, etc. However, its more productive to list all of your ideas in buckets and then pick the top tactic that is the easiest to accomplish. From there continue testing and work your way up.
Find a way to fund your mission. Decide on a reasonable and obtainable marketing budget and stick to it. If you’ve already experienced some sales growth — reinvest in your business. The industry average for marketing budget allocation as a percentage of sales is 2-10%.
Once you’ve outlined your blueprint don’t try to go at it alone. Elicit the help of others that support you. One step at a time. One day at a time. That’s the bright side of a great marketing plan — a blueprint simple enough for execution.