When it comes to developing a marketing plan, there are tried-and-true marketing plan basics that should be followed – if you want a marketing plan that truly does your business some good.
We at DeWinter Marketing & PR have been developing marketing plans for clients for the past 20+ years. We’ve also reviewed our fair share of marketing plans from other sources.
We’ve found there are universal mistakes that can be avoided in developing your marketing plan, which will contribute to a more successful new business year.
Why You REALLY Need To Craft A Marketing Plan
There are a lot of reasons why developing a marketing plan is one of the most important business activities that will positively affect the growth and success of your business.
In simple terms, a Marketing Plan:
- Provides a solid framework and action plan for growing your business
- Provides specific actions to take in a specific sequence, so there’s no guessing on what to do next
In addition, plenty of studies over the course of many years show that businesses with a realistic marketing plan accomplish more in terms of growth and progress than businesses operating by the seat of their pants.
Marketing Plan Basics: The Biggest Marketing Plan Mistakes & How To Avoid Them
Marketing Plan Mistake 1: Don’t BUILD a marketing plan
The antidote for this mistake is quite simple: take the time to build a plan.
Marketing Plan Mistake 2: Don’t FOLLOW your marketing plan
Another mistake is to build a marketing plan and then not follow it. Over the years, we’ve seen business owners get excited about some new marketing opportunity, and lose their focus on the marketing plan. The questions we always ask about marketing activities not in the marketing plan are:
- Has the business changed in any way that dictates course correction in the marketing plan?
- Does the new idea support the business goals in the marketing plan?
If the answers to these 2 questions are “No,” then the team needs to stay the course and implement the existing marketing plan.
Marketing Plan Mistake 3: Don’t set specific GOALS
For a marketing plan to be effective and measurable, it should be tied to specific, realistic sales goals. Examples include:
- Increase the business’s annual revenue by 10% (Note: The average business growth per year is typically between 4-5%.)
- Gain 10 new customers
- Expand into a new market that offers growth potential
When you set specific monetary goals, it gives your marketing team the ability to reverse engineer how many leads you really need, based on your sales closing rates. (Sales closing rates = How many customers do you have to contact and pitch before you get a sale? For example, if you close 4 out of 10 prospects, and you want 40 new customers, you’ll have to pitch 100 prospects.)
Marketing Plan Mistake 4: Develop a really LONG marketing plan
Based on the marketing plan samples we’ve seen, most marketing plans are too long and full of BS language & marketing jargon. Your marketing plan should be fairly short, organized in an outline with bullet points, and clearly detail the action plan in a logical sequence. A marketing plan for a small business should be no more than 10 pages. If the marketing plan for a small business is more than 10 pages, it’s probably got too much non-essential language in it.
Marketing Plan Mistake 5: Develop a marketing plan that YOU CAN’T AFFORD
For small businesses, especially those in industries with tight margins, your marketing dollars have to be used as strategically as possible. It makes no sense to develop a marketing plan of pie-in-the-sky activities that you can’t afford. The best way to avoid this scenario is to set a specific marketing budget, and then develop a marketing plan that makes the highest and best use of a realistic marketing budget.
Marketing Plan Basics: The Top 5 Elements That Should Be In Every Marketing Plan
Element 1: Situation Analysis
This section should include simple bullets of the situation the business is currently facing. Examples include:
- The market has changed, and we lost money this year.
- A new market has emerged for our product because of market conditions, or an industry or government mandate.
- A competitor has declared bankruptcy, creating a business opportunity to pick up new customers.
- A new version of our product or service will be available, creating opportunities for marketing.
Marketing Plan Element 2: Stated Budget
You should be able to clearly state how much money you will spend consistently every month. On a practical note, it is FAR better to market consistently every month rather than blowing your wad of marketing dollars in one big push. In the case of marketing success, CONSISTENCY of marketing is every business’s friend.
Marketing Plan Element 3: Realistic Business Goals
- Determine how many new customers you want and can handle.
- Then determine how many leads you need to get to obtain the number of desired new customers.
- Other items that can be added here include new products or services you want to introduce, facility goals such as add more brick-and-mortar space for selling, production, or storage of products.
Marketing Plan Element 4: Develop an Ideal Customer Profile
Customer profiling is key to be able to accurately target the right prospects for your marketing programs. Define who these people and businesses are that need your product or service. What is their size? Location? Business circumstances that dictate they need what you have to offer. This will drive the development of the marketing action plan section.
Element 5: A Step-by-Step Marketing Action Plan
This section should include a step-by-step plan for the marketing activities you will deploy to achieve your goals, in a sequenced order of what needs to be done, first, second, third, etc.
Learn More About Marketing Plan Basics!
Want to learn more about how to develop an effective, affordable marketing plan? Visit the DeWinter Marketing & PR Knowledge Center & read this expert article on marketing planning.
Marketing Plan Basics: Summary
I will be frank. EVERY business on this planet needs, and should have, a marketing plan in place. If market conditions change suddenly, as was the case in 2020 due to the pandemic, a marketing plan can be modified. But a marketing plan is a necessity for every business, every year.
Need help developing an effective, realistic marketing plan? Contact DeWinter Marketing & PR! We help businesses develop marketing plans that are grounded in reality, make the best use of your marketing dollars, and help you thrive and grow.