Writing a marketing plan is like crafting a game plan for your small business. It’s your guide on the path of success (and profit)! Without it, your marketing efforts run the risk of becoming short-sighted, confusing or too far-flung to ever become a reality. Sadly, many new entrepreneurs will procrastinate writing a marketing plan or put it off altogether--but you’re not like most business owners, are you? You know that you need a marketing plan and you just may need a little help figuring out what should go into it.
That’s what we’re here for! Check out our steps to assembling a marketing plan that rules.
3 Steps to Writing a Marketing Plan that Knocks it Out of the Park
Do a SWOT Analysis
We’re going old-school here, folks. SWOT is s’what I’m talking about (see what I did there?)! This OG marketing tool has been around since the Mad Men days, and there’s a reason for that: it really works. Before you ever start writing a marketing plan, you need to take stock of your business and it’s place in the competitive market.
What’s a SWOT Analysis, you ask? According to Investopedia, SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It’s a tool that marketers have been using for decades in order to create marketing plans that achieve a business’s objectives. That’s why I always recommend starting your marketing plan with a SWOT analysis. Just remember: honesty is key here−don’t sugarcoat your SWOT, you won’t be doing yourself (or your marketing) any favors. Be up front about what you’re great at, and blunt about what you could be doing better.
Create good goals
The next step in writing a marketing plan is to identify your company’s marketing goals (short term and long term). The key to writing an effective goals section is to make sure that they adhere to the SMART framework: goals should be specific, measurable, achievable within your existing means, realistic, and time-specific.
Let’s say your business is a dance studio for children. Here’s an example of a bad goal: fill up dance classes. Here’s a better one: Get fifteen children to enroll in hip hop classes. And here it is in the SMART format: Increase hip hop class enrollment by 25% and tap class enrollment by 10% in the first quarter of 2018.
See the difference? The purpose of setting goals is to be able to hold yourself accountable at a later date—don’t cheat yourself of that opportunity by creating wishy-washy or unrealistic milestones for your business.
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Strategy and Tactics
Alright, now it’s time to talk about the meat of your marketing plan. This section is your how-to guide to achieving your goals, so it makes sense that this should be the meat of your marketing plan. Go through all of your goals and assign a strategy to each. You’ll then list out all of the tactics that you are going to take to make it all happen.
Let’s go back to the dance studio example. If your goal is to increase hip hop class enrollment by 25% in the first quarter of 2018, then your strategy might be something like: run a new years sale to offer discounts to qualified leads. The tactics are the ways in which you plan to implement that strategy. So, for example, tactics might include: running a radio ad on your local station during the holiday season or offering a “bring a friend” discount to existing students who recruit two friends for your hip hop class.
It’s hard to say exactly how long your strategy and tactics section should be--the best strategy and tactics will be exactly as detailed as you need it to be. If you’re the kind of business owner who likes to paint in broad strokes, then a single page may suffice. If you prefer to plan in-depth, you may find that a step-by-step plan could take up three or more pages of your marketing plan.
One thing is for sure, though, you will definitely be glad that you’ve given yourself a solid foundation to work from!