The Importance of Marketing Planning
The beginning of a new year is an excellent time to review, re-evaluate and prepare for success with a marketing planning session.
A key tool for every business is a marketing plan and in this article, we wanted to explain why marketing planning is important and the key steps to follow to produce a great plan.
Why do you need a marketing plan?
Marketing planning is vital to ensuring a good return for your investment and a successful campaign. I am always surprised to see just how many businesses on the Costa del Sol start work without producing a solid plan which can frame their marketing activities and offer a solid foundation. I would strongly advise all businesses to have a good marketing plan in place for maximum chance of success.
A marketing plan doesn’t just randomly allocate actions to marketing. If it’s done properly it should produce an invaluable document which should be put alongside your business objectives at the centre of your activity.
Marketing planning is an excellent way to fully evaluate your business to understand it from a customer’s perspective and issues brought to light by the planning process can be used to improve the company from a point of view of the product, service, positioning, price and promotion.
It is a document which should be regularly updated and reviewed and new plans should be produced for specific campaigns or changes of direction or focus.
What does a marketing plan include?
A Marketing Plan is a big document, which goes through a number of key steps to evaluate your businesses, pull out the benefits of our products and services and then establishes the actions we need to take to meet our objectives.
When we put together a marketing plan for our clients we use a tried and tested template, which guides our brainstorming session and ensures the plan includes everything necessary to enable effective communication.
Here are the key steps to take to produce a marketing plan –
Step 1: Desired Result/Objective – This should be SMART – Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound and sum up what you want to achieve
Step 2: SWOT Analysis – Evaluate your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats
Step 3: Competitor Analysis – In order to successfully compete with companies who are offering similar products or services to the same target market you need to understand who they are, what they are doing, how you differ, how you are the same and what differentiates you
Step 4: Overview of current brand and marketing materials – Review what you have now, involving online and offline marketing materials, check for consistency of look and message, review what it’s saying about your company and see if there’s anything you’re missing.
Step 5: Target Audience(s)- Who are you trying to reach? Try to picture your ideal customer in terms of their age, sex, location, interests, nationalities etc to make sure you really understand your customer and can target messages to them
Step 6: Company Personality – Try to define your company like you would a person, are you fun and funky, serious, professional, trustworthy, innovative, energetic or sophisticated?
Step 7: Product benefits – You can use this as an extension of your SWOT analysis, but specifically focusing on what it is that you’re selling and why it’s so good.
Step 8: Unique Selling Point (USP) – A USP is a simple statement which defines what makes you different from your competition.
Step 9: Communication – There are a large range of communication methods you can use to get your message across from an advertising point of view, all of which have different qualities. There are also other methods to consider if you don’t want to advertise, or to supplement advertising such as press releases, flyers, events, public speaking or online methods like blogs. Have a think about how you are going to communicate to the outside world to get your message across.
Step 10: Advertising – Do you need to use advertising as part of your strategy? If so what type and what will it achieve and how much will it cost?
Step 11: How will the success of the marketing be measured? – Measurement is key and there are many ways to evaluate the success. The first and most important is using the objectives you set at the beginning of the plan as a benchmark, but think about other ways you can accurately measure what you’re doing.
Step 12: Budget – How much do you have to spend and do you have any preferences on how to allocate it?
Step 13: Suggested Actions – This is the place to plan out the next campaign you are conducting. We suggest a minimum of 3 months, up to a maximum of 12 months. Create a plan of specific actions that you will follow using dates and budgets so you can use this as a practical document to work to. Of course things change and new opportunities will come around, so this is a document which evolves and changes over time.
Taking the time to undertake marketing planning for your company will pay off over the long term, as it will give you focus and clarity and give you all the steps required to achieve your objectives.
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