Marketing plans- Here's what to include
A marketing plan lays out how you will attract new customers and investors. It will cover what you want to communicate, to who and how, along with how you are going to measure the effectiveness of your activities.
Without a plan and metrics to measure against you can do all sorts of activities but have no idea what they are contributing to your business objectives.
The marketing plan and business plan are tightly linked so you shouldn't really create one without the other, but for the purpose of this blog we are focussing on the marketing plan. This should be a living document, one you review regularly, to ensure you are on track and as you employ some of the tactics and measure their effectiveness you will amend the plan accordingly.
What are the main areas to cover in a marketing plan?
This section will typically include the companies mission, vision and Values. We covered these in an earlier blog if you want to review these. These are important to the marketing plan as they set out how you want the company to be represented.
Then a SWOT analysis with a marketing focus so think specifically about the elements you currently do well in marketing, or put you in a good position such as your focus on one area of medicine when your competitors are larger and more general (strengths) what you don't do so well in marketing or put you in a weaker position to market compared to your competitors, maybe small marketing budget (weaknesses). These two should focus internally. Opportunities and threats are more externally focussed so again think of these with a view to marketing rather than the business as a whole at this stage. An opportunity may be you are the first company in your segment to get CE marking and a weakness could be you are using a new technology that isn't widely accepted in this area currently.
Some ideas can feel like they fall into both an opportunity and a weakness, the last example above would be a good one of these. Being the first to market is a weakness as you need to raise awareness of why this technology is good to use but you will not be fighting with lots of competition so it's also an opportunity. Don't worry about this too much, the idea of a SWOT analysis is to brainstorm so you can see where to focus your efforts.
This should include a brief paragraph on the overall goal of the company but then break this down into 2 or 3 marketing objectives to help reach that goal. Like all objectives they should be SMART and so remember to include a specific description of the objective, how it will be measured and over what time period. As a marketing plan is a living document this is typically 12 months.
You now need to identify your customers and those you need to influence to make the business a success. Remember depending on the stage of your business this may include investors as well as customers. These are typically defined as buying persona's and will help you develop the channels you will use for marketing and the tone of the messages you will give. We covered this in an earlier blog if you want a refresher.
It's now time to look at your competitors and understand, what products they have and what they do well in marketing them. A short paragraph on the products then focus on how they market them, do they use blogs, make great use of LinkedIn? Note any keywords they use or hashtags that you can include in your content. Are they part of any forums or groups you can look to join or start your own on other appropriate platforms.
A marketing plan is there to help you maximise your efforts not be a document to sit on a shelf or hard drive so, though you may have many competitors try and identify your top 3 or 4 at this stage.
First you need to look at the market landscape and identify and issues your product addresses. Is there a decrease in the workforce and you product focusses on reducing human interaction.
What is the market size, is it shrinking or expanding and is this the case in all demographics. This will allow you to identify the countries you will target. This is important as it will affect a number of things.
The language and imagery you use
The timings of your posts
Now we move into the 5 p's of marketing
What makes your product different from the competition and how does it address the issues we identified as part of the buying persona's and the market landscape. This will help form the key messages you will use to the different target audiences on different platforms
How much are you selling the product for, is this comparable to the market price currently, if not why not? Can you justify a higher price what higher benefits do you bring to make it worth this price. How does price and sales roll up into the profit, if you need to communicate to investors this is important information to be able to share with them.
How will you promote this product/ your company? Think about what messages will drive value and ultimately profit more than the specific tactics these will be covered later.
Who will deliver this marketing plan? If you are a small start up company you probably don't have a marketing team, you may not even have marketing skills in house. Consider with your other roles what you can achieve and what you might need to have outsourced assistance with. The timeline created towards the end of the plan might help you see times when you have a overload of work and need assistance.
This piece refers to how you get your product or service to your customers at the right time, at the right place, and in the right quantity. It includes distribution channels (e.g. via a shopfront, online or a distributor), location, logistics, service levels and market coverage.
Now you have identified your key customers and messages you want to give to them you need to consider the channels you will use. These can be digital such as social media, website and physical such as publications, Exhibitions and Journal Advertising. for each of them decide what the channel is being used for and how you will measure its effectiveness.
So an Exhibition could be used to raise awareness of the company and the product. The measure could be to collect 100 solid leads at the exhibition.
Now we need to identify the specific tasks that need to be carried out.
This will cover which communication method will be used, how it's going to be used and the purpose. so going back to our exhibition. The exhibition is the channel we are using, it will be used to raise awareness of the company by having a booth, offering a lunchtime seminar and targeting hand surgeons attending the exhibition, ahead of the exhibition there will be an email campaign inviting them to the seminar and advertising in the exhibition pack all attendees receive. Now you have your activities you can plan when they occur in the year for maximum effect. All these activities should be put into a Gantt chart so you can see any areas where you have too much going on to manage and any time in the year where you could improve your communications.
Now we have our list of activities we need to carry out we can assign a budget to these and ensure it is in line with the companies financial plan. If it isn't and needs to be reduced we can review the activities and the expected impact on the business to decide which to cut or delay until later in the year. Without this plan you would be guessing as to the impact removing a particular activity would have on the overall aim.
Finally its a good idea to keep within the document a list of marketing tools you use, for what purpose and who is admin for them. This way if you have changes in personnel or any long term sickness you know what in the plan is effected.
We hope you found this summary of a marketing plan useful, as always if you have any questions please get in touch. If you would like help in developing your marketing plan, or carrying out the tasks identified please let us know we are happy to see how we can help.