How to create a marketing plan

Posted by Chris Porteous on 3 Jun, 2019
View comments Marketing
Every business needs a marketing plan in order to survive and thrive long-term. Here's how to create one that will work.

Marketing plan.

Marketing efforts simply can’t be fired from the hip if they’re to hit their target, so your company needs to extensively schedule out its entire marketing process from the get-go unless you intend to waste your money.

Nevertheless, creating a marketing plan is easier said than done, and doing it the wrong way can have disastrous results for your business.  Many entrepreneurs have little to no idea where to begin when it comes to forging a comprehensive game plan that will steer them to success.

In this article I'll show you how to create a marketing plan that will work - and the mistakes you’ll want to avoid along the way.

Plans help you meet deadlines

Before you can create an effective marketing plan, you must understand the importance of having such a plan in the first place. Chiefly, marketing plans help you meet deadlines while avoiding exceeding your limited budget, and businesses which fail to pay heed to their marketing plans are very likely to overextend themselves and eventually crumble inwards. As long as you’re taking things slowly and thoroughly plotting out your course before embarking on your business journey, your marketing plan will slowly but surely take shape in a way that’s commercially beneficial to your business.

Goals and how to get there

The first step will almost always be to clearly elucidate your goals and the means by which you hope to achieve them. If your company doesn’t know what it’s ultimately aiming for with its marketing efforts, how can you ever hope to reach a target audience that’s going to be receptive to your messages? You should be asking yourself what commercial target you’re hoping to hit, what kind of audience you’re trying to reach, and what you would ultimately define as “marketing success” if you were looking back at this current moment in five years’ time.

If you review a list of marketing strategies worth avoiding, you’ll notice that they’re universally devoid of extensive planning and foresight. Marketers who are living in the moment and refuse to keep an eye on the big picture are likely squandering their money and creative talent, whereas those marketing efforts which take their time and work towards long-term goals will succeed at a much higher rate. Take a close look at those marketing mistakes before proceeding if you want your own marketing plan to be devoid of such calamity-causing errors.

Market research

Now that you’ve defined your goals and learned what to avoid, you can get into the real nitty gritty details of your marketing plan. You should begin with market research, which is perhaps the most important element of any good plan; if you’re relying on bad intel, your marketing plan will fail to achieve your goals even if you have the best team in the world and execute it perfectly. Business owners who aren’t comfortable conducting market research should consider hiring a specialist or simply review a helpful guide for market research and analysis which can point them in the right direction.

You’ll need a timeline

For your marketing plan to work, you’ll need a timeline that helps you achieve your goals without overextending yourself. Having different “stages” of a marketing plan is increasingly popular in this day and age, too, as many business owners are waking up to the fact that successive marketing efforts built off one another are an effective means by which to reach their target audiences.

Having a timeline ensures there’s a sense of coherence to your marketing plan, and timelines can also be useful when explaining the details of your plan to co-workers.

Seek wider views

If you thought it was possible to craft a marketing plan with only the insights of your company leaders, think again; you need to take the feedback of your workers into consideration. Your marketing professionals who are working under you are a premium source for useful information relating to plotting out your future.

The importance of communication

You can’t loop in your employees to your marketing plan or impress clients with your business vision if you don’t know how to communicate your plan’s details. So it’s worth spending time studying how to successfully communicate your marketing strategy and plan to an audience that you need to win over or inform.

Remember that a plan which can’t be explained to others is, in effect, no plan at all. Furthermore, marketing plans which fail to identify the dependencies within your company won’t prove to be very useful. If your marketing plan doesn’t include input from your colleagues in sales or HR, for instance, you could be making a crucial mistake that ends up costing your company big. Remember that collaboration is always helpful, and that the feedback derived from non-marketing gurus is valid and worthy of your attention when forging a plan.

In conclusion

Once you understand that a marketing plan requires foresight, perseverance, and a touch of flexibility so that it can be altered if market conditions change, you’ll be well on your way towards achieving your commercial dreams. Taking ample time to read up on the mistakes of others is crucial towards your success, as you can only avoid their errors if you’re aware of them well ahead of time. Keep your marketing plan well organized and divided into actionable stages which can be measured in terms of how much success they generate, and soon your business will be soaring to new heights.