marketing plan

What is a marketing plan, and do I need one?

A marketing plan can provide the structure and focus to help you identify, reach and connect with more customers. If you want your business to help more people or to be more sustainable then this needs to be in your plan. Having a plan is like having a map and without it the things that are important can get diluted or you could lose your way.

Many businesses focus purely on marketing their marketing outputs such as branding, web design and may feel like slaves to social media but they fail to really look deeper into their purpose and what they need to do to really connect with their customers. Many businesses have tiny budgets and so may be doing some of the marketing or you may be outsourcing some aspects or they may have the luxury of a trainee of a member of staff who can do some marketing. A plan can help you work smarter rather than harder but without a plan and clear communication across staff or freelancers of the key messages or direction the results can be inconsistent and unfocused.

Having a marketing plan that includes a strategy around what is important to the business – whether it is to be greener or to help more customers requires goals, targets and an action plan to be effective. This joined up approach will keep your marketing laser focused. It should help simplify and define the right messages, to the right customers, in the right manner and at the right time. A marketing plan will help you take a step back and see the bigger picture so that your marketing is more powerful.

So what is included in a marketing plan? A good marketing plan will lay out the strategy required to help you achieve the goals and objectives that are important to you. It should include:-

  • Who are the target market customer segments?
  • Which of these segments the business wants to grow;
  • The positioning and key business messages for each segment, and
  • The route to market.
  • The channels and platforms for promotion

It should lay out the business:-

  • Mission,
  • Vision,
  • Values

And it should include a strategic roadmap that outlines the online and offline tactics needed to implement this strategy.

Many businesses then create more focussed action plans off the back of this overarching strategic marketing plan such as a content marketing plan, digital marketing plan, public relations plan, social media plan and advertising plan.

A marketing plan needs to be tailored to be effective because your business is unique. There is never a one size fits all. Having a strong purpose is key and your plan should outline your mission, vision and values, as well as any financial goals and objectives you need to reach. It should set out the strategy the business will take to help it achieve its objectives, a plan of action and its marketing budget. Not all small businesses have a marketing budget, but this will help a business control the costs of marketing and ensure spend happens in the right places. Finally the plan should examine how success will be measured.

In summary the following sections make up a marketing plan:

  • A situation analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
  • Mission, vision, and values
  • Goals and objectives whether financial or otherwise
  • Strategy to achieve objectives
  • A plan of action including key marketing tactics and messages relating to target segments
  • Budgeting and how to measure success so you know if you are on track

Although there are a lot of free and paid for marketing plan templates and resources to help build a marketing plan we advise creating a plan that is tailored to you, your purpose and what you want to achieve. We offer a fast-track strategic marketing planning service that will give you the clarity and strategy needed. We also offer marketing coaching sessions to help you either create the plan or stay on track. With an independent view a marketing consultant can challenge your thinking and can use their experience of what has worked for similar organisations to recommend strategic actions and tactics that may not previously have been considered.

Marketing can be a powerful force for good and our mission is to help heart-led, ethical and sustainable businesses market their business with passion, ease and grace. In ways which never push or try to make customers do anything they don’t want to do but instead attract people through content that has a deep connection, that is authentic and congruent to their values and beliefs. If you’d like to know more about how we can help you why not book in for a chat – contact Rebecca on rebecca@littlegreenmarketingcompany.co.uk

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