Marketing is an essential driver of business growth and success, but without a solid marketing plan it could end up costing you more than it makes. Below are five steps to consider when setting up a successful marketing plan that helps you get the results you want.

1. Set goals

Before you can create a plan, you need to have a clear idea of what you need it to accomplish. This is more than the basic ‘attract more customers to my business’; to be able to measure the success of a marketing plan, you need to determine some specific and measurable outcomes. This could raising your business’ monthly income by 20%, adding 500 subscribers to your mailing lists, increasing the average monthly number of visits a customer makes to your store by 50% – the key points is that the goals of your marketing plan should align with the goals you have for your business, and that you should be able to measure the success of the campaign against them. This also means setting a timeline for the goal, and a specific point in time that you will track the success of the campaign.

For more on goal setting, has some excellent advice here:

2. Understand your audience

As much as we would all like to sell something that absolutely everyone needs, for most of us, our businesses aim to sell to a specific type of customer. Understanding those customers, their needs and their behaviour, is essential to putting together a successful marketing plan.

When creating customer profiles, you will likely have several difference main customer groups, usually separated by demographic information such as age, gender and occupation.

For each group you determine, think about what they do – how they travel to work, where they go for their entertainment and how they spend their time plays a huge part in what types of advertising they will see. Think about their relationship to your business; what need do you help them fulfil, what problem do you help them to solve? All of this will help to shape your campaign and make sure that your message is relevant to your customers, and that your ads are being displayed where your customers will see them.

3. Know what makes you different

Every successful business has a Unique Selling Proposition, or USP. Your USP is what sets you apart from your competitors and gives you your edge – it’s the reason that your customers choose you.

Do some research and try to understand your closest competitors. Identify what they are selling, their prices, and the strengths and weaknesses each of them has as a company. Look at your competitors from the point of view of a customer, and think about what would make you willing, or unwilling, to give them your business.

Once you understand your competitors, you can determine your own USP. When putting it together, think of the things that set your products and services apart, about the benefits your customers can get from those products and services. Remember that what makes you unique is about more than just what you sell. Even if your products are identical to your competitors, you can still stand out in terms of service, convenience or the expertise of your staff.

4. Reach your audience

Now that you know who you are marketing to and what makes you stand out, you can start putting together your marketing message and choosing where it will be displayed. Your marketing message should consider your customer profiles, using the right ‘voice’ and the right imagery to appeal to the customers you have identified. Your USP should be included as a key piece of information, letting your customers know the reason they should choose you above your competitors.

When choosing where to place your advertising, again, look back to your customer profiles. Understanding where your audience goes for information and what platforms they use for entertainment will give you a clear idea of what marketing platforms will be most likely to reach the audience you are looking for.

5. Measure and improve

Marketing is not a once-and-done job. After your campaigns have launched, it is important to continue to monitor their success and measure the impact they have had on your business. Look back to the goals you set at the start of the planning process and track the numbers that you are looking to improve. Wherever possible, try to confirm the source of new customers and increased revenue. For online campaigns, these can be tracked using the analytics provided to you. For other campaigns, customer surveys or simply talking with your customers and asking how they found you can help to measure what has influenced their actions.

Once you have a clear idea of the effect of your marketing campaigns you can review, considering your goals and the effects of the campaign, and investigate ways that you can improve. This continual improvement will make sure that your campaigns operate effectively and help you to meet your business goals.

Thinking of refreshing your marketing plan? John Rowbottom Design and Marketing offer complete marketing and design solutions, from building a successful plan through to the creation and delivery of campaigns that drive results. If you would like to discuss how to drive the success of your next campaign, enquire at today.

Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

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