The thought of developing a company marketing plan can seem daunting, especially for small and medium sized businesses without a dedicated marketing or communications department.
However, marketing is a crucial part of sustaining and growing a business and should never be an afterthought or a reactionary measure.

Having a strong marketing plan with measurable goals, clear strategies, and a built-in evaluation process will take dedication up front but can save your company time and money in the long run. Here are five tips for developing a marketing plan for your company.

  1. Create an executive summary
    It’s hard to know how a marketing plan fits into your overall mix of company activities unless you know what they all are. As a Business News Daily article recommends, “Marketing campaigns should not be considered individual functions. Marketing is the story of your brand as told to customers; like any narrative, its tone and characters should remain consistent. An executive summary details your marketing goals for the next year and helps tie each campaign together.”
    By creating this high-level, overarching summary, you will be better able to ensure your day-to-day marketing efforts align with your company vision and direction.
  2. Set SMART goals
    When you’re talking about SMART goals, you’re not just talking about a synonym for intelligent. SMART, in this case, is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-driven — meaning that you’re not just saying you’d like to be better or greater, but you’re setting a specific window of time in which you accomplish a goal you can measure numerically, that is within your reach, and defined. It’s helpful to make your goals SMART goals, because it allows you to track your progress and have a specific target and window of time for achieving your goal. Whether that’s a target goal concerning customers and leads, or just getting a project like an new, improved website done within a specific time, SMART goals will help get you there.
  3. Identify your target audience
    Not every company can be all things to all people. When you’re looking to create a marketing plan, you want to make sure you have a target audience in mind. As AllBusiness reminds marketers, “A marketing campaign may be good but off target, rendering it ineffective for its intended purpose.” Hitting the target market effectively is the true indicator of how well marketing budgets were spent, so it’s important to evaluate if you’re too broad or too narrow in your marketing so you can adjust accordingly. That means that while the message you go with is essential, the medium is also worth evaluating.
  4. Define your competitors
    Your company won’t be marketing in a vacuum. To create an effective marketing plan, you need to know your competitors and how they’re marketing to the same target customers you might be looking to reach. Business News Daily advises, “Small business personnel seldom take the time to study their competitors in depth or pinpoint companies outside their industry that are just as capable of luring customers away. Knowing who your competitors are, their core competitive advantages, and how they might respond to your offerings – like price cuts or increased communication – helps you devise strategies to combat such losses.”
  5. Don’t be afraid to change it up
    While it’s important to evaluate your marketing plan to gauge its effectiveness, you also want to make sure that you have the flexibility to change what you’re doing and how you’re marketing if you do determine it’s not as effective as you’d like it to be. That means that a marketing plan shouldn’t be a “set-it-and-forget-it” type of exercise. Ingrained in your plan there should be regular check-ins and evaluations so that you can assess progress and identify next steps.
    How much, and how many people that process involves, is totally up to you, but it should be robust enough to allow for whatever change is needed.

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