With all the daily tasks that need to be accomplished when operating an effective business, thinking ahead about future responsibilities and strategies can feel like it should be last on your to-do list. However, it’s smart to begin planning for the growth of your business now, so you can set your company up for success in the future.

An important element of looking ahead is creating a viable marketing plan. This document can go a long way toward making sure you promote your business effectively and reach your company’s goals over a 12-month period.

Here are six tips for putting together a concise marketing plan that will help you down the road:

1. Define your goals

Research has shown that goals are much more likely to be achieved when we put them in clear, specific language and write them down. When crafting your marketing plan, consider your company’s short- mid- and long-term goals. Maybe they’re increasing revenue and expanding a client base, or establishing a new office and rolling out a new process. The goals provide a framework and direction for your marketing plan.

2. Evaluate the market

Take some time to evaluate the market in which your company operates. Identify who your competitors are, how they’re performing, and whether they are any changes or trends in your industry that may affect your business’ performance in the future. It can be helpful to do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis here to gain a better understanding of your position in the market as it is currently.

3. Set marketing objectives

Once you’ve identified overarching company goals and evaluated the current state of your industry, you can set marketing objectives. Think about what you want to achieve with the services you offer – perhaps you want to do more business in your existing market, or expand your reach to target new markets. Also be sure to specify which specific demographics for clients, audiences or consumers you want to reach this year.

4. Craft marketing messaging

Next, draft messaging that appeals to your target audience and will help you meet your objectives. To do so, you should think about your company’s unique selling points, or USPs. These are the qualities that set you apart from your competitors. Develop strong and persuasive messages that respond to customer pain points while promoting your USPs.

5. Detail your strategy

Businesses today have a range of exciting marketing tools and methods available to them, including social media, search engine optimization, direct mail and email campaigns. Identify which ones will work best for your organization and its goals. The strategies you choose may be dependent on your budget. Specify what results you are expecting to see from these methods, and by when. Create a timeline for carrying out the campaigns and identify the internal teams that will be responsible for them.

6. Follow through

Once you’ve created your marketing plan, don’t file it away to be forgotten. Get the whole team excited by the strategy and then make an effort to keep it relevant. Review progress against your goals regularly. Remember, it’s okay to adjust your plan if need be. It’s better to plan well to achieve smaller goals than put too much pressure on you and your team to reach too-ambitious objectives and ultimately end up frustrated.

With these tips, you can create a marketing plan that can help your company have a clear focus and plan of action.

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