Writing a marketing plan is an essential task for every business of every size and shape. It will detail all the marketing activities you intend to do over a set period of time in order to generate more sales. Having a plan will make it much easier to budget, manage your time, predict sales and know in advance what, how and when you’ll be communicating with customers and prospects. This article looks at everything you need to consider - including a free marketing plan template download.
Marketing is the process of converting prospects into customers by:
Marketing should no longer be a one-way stream of announcements from business to the consumer but is a two-way conversation.
“People do not buy goods and services. The buy relations, stories and magic.”
Your marketing plan will set out how you’re going to achieve this - the channels, tactics, timings and budget that you will use - based on your marketing strategy.
There’s no set in stone way to write a marketing plan. It will probably be one or two pages long and it might slot into your business plan or be a separate document. Later you may want to split it out into more detailed plans for different channels - for example, a digital marketing plan, an email marketing plan, etc.
Marketers tend to write an annual plan - January to December, or April to March (alongside the financial year), but it’s up to you what suits your business and sales cycles the best. The most important thing is that you use it, update it and track what’s worked.
Before you plan how you’re going to get somewhere, you need to work out where you’re going. Your marketing strategy will decide where you’re heading, followed by the marketing plan which will say how you’ll reach it.
Your marketing strategy will include:
Your strategic marketing plan is designed to execute this marketing strategy and should be done with your brand, market research and customer knowledge at the forefront of your mind.
Review this list of channels and choose a few that seem to suit your business best (this will depend on your products/services, customers, resources, skills and budget). Straight away you can probably pick out the ones that appeal most or eliminate some due to practicality or cost.
|Channels||Best used for...||How to track||Typical cost|
|Digital ads (PPC - pay-per-click)||Driving more traffic to your website||Google Analytics||High|
|Search engine optimisation (SEO)||Driving more traffic to your website (longer term)||Web analytics/keyword tools||Low|
|Email marketing||A main channel of communication with customers/prospects and to drive sales||Email service provider analytics and Google Analytics||Low|
|Social media (paid and organic)||Growing a community of fans||Social channels analytics||High for paid, low for organic|
|Content/blogging||Showing that you’re the expert||Google Analytics||Low|
|PR||Newsworthy stories||Unique offer||Medium|
|Newspaper/magazine ads||Specific target markets if you know that yours match the publications||Unique offer/promo code/trackable telephone number or link||Medium|
|TV ads||High-value brand awareness and sales||Unique offer/promo code/trackable telephone number or link||High|
|Radio ads||Medium value brand awareness and sales - products that can come across well in an audio ad||Unique offer/promo code/trackable telephone number or link||High|
|Events/exhibitions||Putting your product/service in front of a new audience by exhibiting or speaking at events||Number of followers gained/data captured/sales||Medium|
|Printed leaflets/flyers||Geographically targeting||Unique offer/promo code/trackable telephone number or link||Low|
|Telephone||Contacting past customers for repeat purchases if you have their permission||Number of sales||Medium|
|Referrals/word of mouth||Encouraging enthusiastic customers to share their experiences||Number of referrals||Low|
|Partnerships||Two businesses with similar target markets but non-competing products||Number of sales/web traffic||Low|
|Sponsorship||Enhancing brand reputation by association||Web traffic||High|
The marketing channels that you choose to use will depend on your products/services, resources, skills, budget, and most importantly, where your customers are. Using a variety of channels will spread the risk so you avoid putting all your eggs in one basket. We looked at different small businesses and found out what channels worked best for them…
What marketing channels are best for dog groomers?
Pictures and videos of pets make the perfect (or pawfect!) content for social platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Try and create partnerships with local vets, pet shops, kennels and dog walkers for referrals, and then you can share each other’s social posts too.Find out more
What marketing channels are best for plumbers?
Trade-based businesses, perhaps more than any other business type, need to demonstrate their credibility and authenticity. This can be done by listing your site on relevant directories and encouraging customer reviews and feedback.Find out more
What marketing channels are best for online stores?
The first position on Google search results on desktop has a 34.36% click-through rate, so clearly being visible in search results is hugely important for any online-based business.Find out more
What marketing channels are best for foodie startups?
Events are key for foodie startups, even if you have premises it’s great to get out to new places and get your food in people’s mouths. Use Facebook Events to get the dates in people’s calendars and share mouthwatering photos of your food on Instagram.Find out more
Download your free marketing plan example and template here. This marketing planning template includes:
Small budget? No problem! Check out these 43 brilliant free or low cost marketing ideas.Read more
Before you start your marketing planning, make sure you have your marketing strategy in place.Read more
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