6 Key Components for a successful marketing plan

6 Key Components for a successful marketing plan

You’ve established  that your business idea has legs, you’ve written your business plan and now you’re ready to start marketing. However, to do this effectively and not leave anything to chance, you need a sound marketing strategy and you need to identify and implement the right tactics.

At the composite level, marketing consists of a number of identifiable promotional activities implemented to connect and start a conversation with your target audience with the ultimate goal of driving sales. The best way to ensure success is by writing a Marketing Plan. This is an actionable reference document that outlines what steps will be taken to achieve your goals, including the allocation of budgets.

A good Marketing Plan provides a framework for you to integrate your total marketing effort in support of your Business Plan.  It is an ongoing activity that needs to be continually monitored and evolved depending on the business results that are being delivered. Unlike a Business Plan, a Marketing Plan focuses on meeting short to near term objectives.

Including these 6 key components into your Marketing Plan can help you develop an effective strategy for marketing and scaling your business.

Components for success

Your Marketing  Plan should help you provide answers to the following key questions. After all, if you cannot define who you are, what you are selling and who you are selling to, do you even have a business?

  • How unique is your product or service?
  • Can you clearly define your value proposition?
  • What differentiates it from others in the market?
  • How do you stand out against your competition?
  • What product gap or service need does it fill for your customers?

Whilst there is no hard and fast rule, at a minimum, the following 6 key components should be included in your plan:

1. A Business Overview

This provides a clear status of your current business, including where you operate from, your mission statement, your business goals and objectives, the products or services you offer and who will be responsible for the implementation of the marketing plan.

2. Analyse Your Market

Understanding your competitors is a critical part of the groundwork for a successful Marketing Plan. It helps you distill the essence of your SWOT analysis which clearly defines your business strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and helps you establish your unique point of difference.

Research, whether paid for or unpaid, can provide further validation for your value proposition. Similarly, it can highlight both unexpected opportunities or uncover potential shortcomings in your assumptions. Most importantly however, it will help you articulate and validate your unique point of difference.

3. Profile your customer

Having a thorough understanding of your customer or target audience is a critical requirement to ensure success. Who are they? And what problem are you solving for them? Where do they live? What do they read? The more you know about them and what makes them tick, the more chances you have to influence their decision making process directly. Examples include:

Demographic information:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Gender
  • Geographic Location
  • Income status

Psychographic information:

  • Their interests
  • Possible challenges they may be facing?
  • Values

4, Define your Strategy

Whilst your overall marketing strategy provides a high level overview of how you will bring your product or service to market, it should also address the broader objectives you have set within your business plan. A key consideration is understanding where your product or service is within its life cycle.  Are you:

  • Entering a new market?
  • Launching a new product
  • Expanding your distribution of an existing product

Here you will provide answers to the 4 main “P’s” of marketing:

  • Product: What products you are selling?
  • Pricing: What price points you will be charging
  • Place: What your channels of distribution will be – online, instore, wholesale
  • Promotion: How and where you will promote it to your audience

Understanding these components will enable you to define the Unique Selling Point of your product or service. It should identify how it will be different and what unique need it will be fulfilling for your customers

Additional considerations can include:

  • People: Who will be responsible and accountable for implementing the strategies and tactics
  • Process: How your product or service will be delivered to your customer
  • Physical Evidence: How do you reassure your customer that you product or service is reliable and has value?

5. Define your tactics

Your marketing tactics detail the promotional actions which will be taken to create awareness of your product or service.

These tactics will be implemented to ensure that you are reaching your target audience optimally and can include advertising, social media, sales promotions, direct marketing or referrals.

6. Set your Budget and Control Measures

Your budget provides you with clear guidelines of how your money will be allocated across the promotional activities you have identified. This is not a set and forget activity. It needs to be monitored and evaluated continuously to maximise your return.

Whilst developing a good Marketing Plan requires research, time and commitment. It is a very valuable process that can give you clarity of vision and can greatly contribute to your business success. Without it your marketing efforts will simply be hit and miss, like taking shots in the dark.