- Knowing your strengths and what makes you competitive
- Creating a point of difference
- Understanding the people you're selling to
For a young business or a small business looking to grow, a well-thought-out marketing plan is an essential stepping-stone to gaining – and maintaining – an edge over your competitors.
A marketing plan can also be useful to guide future business decisions. A clear plan can help focus your activities, so you're less likely to get side-tracked by things that don't align with your business’s core mission.
Start with a ‘SWOT’ analysis
Identifying your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) can help you understand your business’s advantages and disadvantages in the broader competitive landscape. It helps provide direction by shining a light on what your business does well and where you’ll need to improve – critical in fine-tuning your business strategy.
To help get you started, we've created a handy SWOT analysis template (PDF 137kB).
Understanding your market
Mapping out the market you operate in is a critical step in developing a marketing plan.
Consider these key factors:
- What is the history, current size and likely growth of your market?
- What trends, legislation or economic, social, political and environmental factors might affect the market?
- What are the key factors for success in this market? Things like price, product range, reputation, brand credentials, speed of fulfilment, warranty, and so on.
- What are the barriers to your business’s success in this market?
- What’s your current and target percentage of market share?
Getting inside your customer’s head
Understanding your customer base and what influences their purchasing will help you tailor your offering and marketing.
Who has a need or desire for your product? Of these, who has capacity to buy it? Make sure you validate your decisions on potential market share and likely demand, by doing some solid research.
It's also important to understand how your customers behave. For example, do they prefer to buy online, and are they engaging with social media more than traditional forms of media?
If your customers are other businesses, you can define your target market by factors such as turnover, market share, longevity in the market and number of employees.
Whereas if your customers are consumers, you might define your target market by gender, age, income, location and other demographics.
Here are a few customer attributes to consider:
- Age group, income range, education attained, household or family status
- Likes, dislikes, preferred brands, price sensitivity
- Media consumption habits, including social media
- What they are looking for, or what their problem is that your business can solve
- Buying behaviours which relate to your market, including online purchasing
Researching your competition
Having a solid understanding of your competitors can help you to carve out a clear competitive position for your business.
Make a list of all your main competitors and compile a list of the pros and cons of each.
It's also useful to look for statistical data about the competition, such as their turnover, sales volumes, and market activity. Sometimes, you can source this kind of information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics or your industry’s professional body.
Defining your competitive advantage
Your competitive advantage is the reason why a customer would buy from you instead of someone else. Ask your staff and customers what they see as yours.
It may be a better product, location or website, faster delivery or superior guarantees. Make your advantages the cornerstone of your marketing strategy.
For more inspiration, check out the article "Defining your competitive advantage."
Developing an action plan
Now it’s time to start setting some targets and deadlines.
- Targets – who is your target audience and how many sales do you need to make?
- Channels – how are you going to reach your audience? Here, you might want to consider Facebook ads and Google ads .
- Message – what message will catch the attention of your audience?
- Budgets – what is your budget to achieve your sales and turnover targets?
- Suppliers – which suppliers will you use and at what cost?
Section 4 of ANZ’s Business plan template (PDF 591kB) is dedicated to all things market analysis and strategy.
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