There are 7 stages to developing a Marketing Plan. Just follow these stages and you will develop your own professional Marketing Plan for your business.
As a professional Marketing Consultant, I find that typically around 90% of the new clients I go into don’t already have a Marketing Plan-and even some of those that say they do, when I ask to see it point to their head and say ‘it’s in here’. Unfortunately at that point I then have to tell them that they don’t have a Marketing Plan-which has to be a ‘written, flexible, strategic document, based on well-researched information, outlining the future direction of the business and how this will be achieved from a marketing point of view. It will include a detailed action plan for implementation’.
Why does it have to a Written Document? Well it has to be shared and monitored throughout the organisation to ensure it is implemented effectively.
If you already have a Marketing Plan, you will know the significant benefits it can bring-if not, you are missing out on a significant opportunity develop and ensure the future growth of your business.
We have helped over 600 companies develop a Marketing Plan over the years through our definitive ‘Develop a Marketing Plan in a Day Seminars’ and Marketing Consultancy services-so we know what we are talking about-It’s what we do!
It can be a bit daunting though when you start off writing your Marketing Plan-you might be wondering what does it look like? What sections do I need to cover? How many years should it cover etc?
Just follow these stages and you will develop your own professional Marketing Plan for your business.
The 7 Stages of Developing Your Marketing Plan
- Business Review/Marketing Audit
- Market Research
- SWOT Analysis
- Set Objectives
- Agree Target Segments
- Develop Marketing Strategy
- Develop Action Plan
Stage 1 Business Review/Marketing Audit
The Marketing Audit is ‘a review of the business from a marketing perspective, which provides the foundation for the development of the marketing plan’.
This is the stage where we need to review and learn from the marketing activity we undertook last year and determine What Works, What doesn’t Work and just as importantly-whether we have got the systems in place to say what worked and what did not work!
We learn from what we did last year but we don’t slavishly repeat our marketing activities again this year-why not you might ask? Well for a start your Objectives might be different this year and will need a different range of activities and emphasis to achieve these revised Objectives.
Stage 2 Market Research
Next we need to undertake Market Research to support and inform the Objectives we want to achieve and the Marketing activities we want to undertake.
The Research might be a Customer Survey, identifying opportunities for a new product or service etc using Desk Research or Original Field Research.
Why undertake Market Research? Well, if you think about it, without Market Research what are you basing your decisions on? You are making your decisions in a Vacuum!
Stage 3 SWOT Analysis
I dare say that most of you won’t have got to this stage in your business careers without having undertaken a SWOT Analysis!
Well, used within this 7 stage Approach to Developing your Marketing Plan, the SWOT Analysis (and used properly to generate ideas with your management team) gets you thinking strategically about your business and what you want to achieve before you move forward to the next key stage.
Stage 4 Setting Marketing Objectives
The first three stages above are based on a thorough review of where is the business now-based on research and analysis.
This stage though is where we start looking forward to identify what you want to achieve with your business over the next 3 years.
We are not looking for anything woolly here though, what we want are firm, quantifiable Objectives that we can monitor and measure over the period of the Marketing Plan eg Sales, Market Penetration, New Product Launches etc.
This is absolutely crucial because if you think about it, everything you do from now on is towards achieving these objectives.
Stage 5 Agreeing Target Segments
Great Objectives! We now need to agree which segments of the market we are going to target to achieve these Marketing Objectives.
The segments we target will naturally depend on the type of business we are (are we targeting Consumers or other Businesses for example) but typically we will target Existing Customers, Past Customers, Enquirers, New Prospects etc with our Marketing Activities.
Here is the key point though-we are likely to be targeting these Segments with different messages and approaches. For example our message to Existing Customers is likely to be different to Past Customers, to Enquirers, to Prospects etc-the more focussed and relevant our message is to each segment, the more likely it is to be effective and successful.
Stage 6 Developing your Marketing Strategy
We know what we want to achieve (through our Marketing Objectives), we know who we are targeting our marketing activity at (Market Segmentation)-the next stage is all about how we do it….this is our Marketing Strategy.
Basically a Strategy is how we achieve an Objective.
Our Marketing Strategy therefore outlines how we are going to achieve our Marketing Objectives!
It covers identifying which Marketing Activities we need to use, what messages, to which Market Segment etc.
We basically have a range of Marketing tools and techniques to use to help us to achieve our Marketing Objectives eg Website, Email Marketing, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. We need to identify which tools we are going to use and how…
Stage 7 Action Plan
Once we have done all of the above, what we don’t want to end up with is a pretty document sitting on our desk gathering dust. We need to make this plan happen. We need to implement the Marketing Plan.
An important part of this process is the development of an Action Plan.
This doesn’t have to be anything particularly complicated-essentially though it needs to outline- What needs to be done to achieve the identified Marketing Objectives, by whom (always always allocate responsibility for individual actions), when it will be done by and if there is a cost.
All that needs to happen now is that the Marketing Plan is monitored regularly at your weekly/monthly management/marketing meetings.
Good luck and Happy Marketing!
A Marketing Plan has to be a written, flexible, strategic document, based on well-researched information, outlining the future direction of the business and how this will be achieved from a marketing point of view. pic.twitter.com/BPdtY9cmNu
— Shelton Associates (@SheltonAssocia) February 27, 2018
If you need any further help with developing your Marketing Plan please get in touch directly at a.shelton@sheltonassociates or have a look at our Marketing Plans page with a range of tools to help you develop your plan.