With so many changes happening all around us, developing a marketing plan is critical to defining the road ahead and understanding your customers, competition and how you’ll stand out. A marketing plan will also help you to define your messaging and instil confidence that your investment is directed at the right audience.
Creating a marketing plan for your business
Know your market
- What is the history, current size and projected growth rate of the market?
- What stage of the business lifecycle is the market in – starting, growing, maturing or declining?
- What trends, legislation or wider factors (social, political, environmental) might influence the market?
- What are the key factors for success in this market – price, product range, credibility?
- What are the barriers to your business’s success in this market?
- What’s your current and target percentage market share?
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Think about your market – what are the key factors you’ll need to know?
Identify your target customers
The clearer your understanding of your customers the more successful your marketing will be. This is important to consider during uncertain times as your customers’ demands may have changed or still be changing. Consider questions like: who has a need for your product? Out of this group who has capacity to buy it? Make sure you validate your decisions on potential market share and likely demand, with solid research.
It is 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 them by turnover, market share, longevity in the market and number of employees – factors that may have been affected in the current environment. If your customers are the general public, define your target by factors such as gender, age, income, location.
Outline the parameters you can use to define your target customers.
Research your competition
Understand what your competitors offer and who they are targeting, as well as how your product compares. Try the Australian Bureau of Statistics, industry bodies, your local Business Enterprise Centre or council to understand the competition. For free benchmarking data, try ANZ’s Business Insights to find out about your competitors.
Use this research and knowledge to help make your business stand out.
Define your competitive advantage
With customers being more conscious of how they spend their money, 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.
Think about what makes your business unique in the market?
Develop an action plan
Start with important dates like the times of the year or week when your customers are more likely to be looking for your product or service. Also look to understand advertising deadlines so you can schedule enough time to develop items well in advance.
- Targets: who is your target audience and how many sales do you need to make?
- Channels: how are you going to reach your audience?
- Message: what message will catch the attention of your audience?
- Budgets: what is your budget to achieve your business’ targets?
- Suppliers’ help: which suppliers will you use and at what cost?
You might not want to commit too far in advance, so you can flex as you go.
Set out the steps you’ll take to realise your marketing plan.
Revisiting, evaluating and updating your plan
Measure your results to learn what’s effective. As well as sales, look at indicators like Facebook likes, re-tweets, blog comments and website page views.
It’s normal for some marketing efforts to be less effective, especially to start with. Compare results with spend to measure marketing efficiency, and schedule regular times to evaluate progress and fine-tune your calendar based on what you’ve learnt.