How to Develop a Marketing Plan: 10 Essential Steps

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How to Develop a Marketing Plan: 10 Essential Steps

Marketing-Plan1-300x179One of the biggest mistakes marketers make is focusing on the tactics of marketing – the new website, direct mail campaign, or Facebook promotion – without first developing a marketing plan.

Though a comprehensive marketing strategy for a large company can be a big undertaking, nearly every marketing plan involves these 10 essential steps:

1. Set your objectives.

Start with some basic questions: Why are you doing marketing? What do you want to achieve? Most marketers want more leads, sales, traffic, and/or awareness. Identify what success would look like for your organization and set goals you can measure.

2. Assess your situation.

Evaluate your marketplace to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors and find your best opportunities. Profile your customers to learn who buys from you and why. Review past marketing initiatives to see what’s worked and what hasn’t.

3. Determine your market positioning.

How do you want to be perceived in your marketplace? What sets you apart from competitors? Clarify or establish your brand identity and market positioning by focusing on the unique value you deliver and how that value differentiates you from others who do what you do.

4. Identify your prospects.

Who are you targeting with marketing? In most cases, your best prospects look a lot like your best customers. Understand who they are, what they care about, and how your products and services solve their problems.

5. Select your marketing channels.

Choose marketing channels that will reach your targeted prospects effectively and efficiently. Most marketers use a combination of paid media, such as advertising direct mail, or trade shows, social media, and proprietary media – the channels you own, like your website or retail store.

6. Gather your resources.

What resources do you have for marketing? You’ll need an internal staff or a marketing agency to help develop your plan and create marketing campaigns. You’ll also need to budget for production and deployment of marketing tactics and for paid media.

7. Develop your marketing messages.

What do you want prospects to understand about your company and what you offer? Develop core messages that describe what you do and the value you provide. Always focus on how your products and services benefit customers.

8. Choose tactics and plan campaigns.

Select marketing tactics to deliver your messages and integrate those tactics into campaigns that will be executed over a specific time period. A retail traffic generation campaign, for example, might include such tactics as advertising, direct mail, email, mobile marketing, social media, in-store POP merchandising, and website promotions.

9. Create and deploy campaign tactics.

Develop the creative for the tactics you’ve selected: Write the copy, select the images, design the layouts, and program the web ads and e-promotions. Then, produce and distribute your tactics as scheduled in your plan.

10.  Evaluate results.

Review your results v. your goals. Did you achieve your objectives? Recognize that some marketing objectives — such as higher awareness, increased market share, or brand preference — must be achieved over time.

The Bottom Line: You Need a Map to Reach Your Destination

As a marketing consultant, I always advise my clients to think strategically about marketing before jumping into tactical execution. Investing the time up front to plan your marketing will help you use resources more efficiently, deliver high-impact messages that resonate with prospects, and achieve better results.

  • Colin Dawson

    You have included some great points in here!

    I thoroughly believe that some internet marketing strategies should be an integral part of most if not every marketing plan. We are all witnessing the “disappearance” of the high street, and the online market is taking over. Businesses simply won’t survive if they don’t implement some foundation of internet marketing and online presence.

    Clearly this begins with the creation of a website. However, creating a website is just the starting point, it is no use having a website if you are not going to use some techniques to generate traffic towards the site and once you receive that traffic, to be compelling to the viewer. (As I learnt the hard way in the past)!

    Not many people are aware of the wide range of techniques that you can use to generate traffic to your site and in turn achieve a higher search engine ranking and secure leads.

    Coincidentally, I have just received a mailing from a company called Intellimon, which specialize in website design software and traffic generation services. And in this mailing, they are offering a module from their Complete Guide To Traffic training course completely free for Thankgiving. I redeemed my free module last night from a choice of 30, and have learnt so much, and am already applying these techniques to my site. The link they provided was to their Facebook page, I totally recommend you check it out, as you can never have too much knowledge on this subject area.

    November 21, 2012 at 9:00 am
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