A marketing plan is the blue print that outlines how your company will capture its share of your target market. The process of formulating a marketing plan can be broken down into 3 phases: Analysis of Company, Analysis of Business Environment, and Goal Setting.
Analysis of Company: SWOT Analysis
S: Strengths are internal factors that add value to your company. For example, superior financial position, patents, innovation, strong brand.
W: Weaknesses are internal factors, necessary for optimum performance that you lack. For example: Disadvantages compared to competitors, weak leadership, and poor technology.
O: Opportunities are external events that your company can capitalize on. For example, loosening of regulation, demographic shifts, removal of international trade barriers.
T: Threats are events or forces outside your control that may negatively affect your business. For example, natural disaster, market entry of a new competitor, social, economic trends.
Analysis of Business Environment
First analyze your INDUSTRY, what are the current trends? What problems exist? Then, research your direct and indirect COMPETITORS. What makes them successful? Use free tools like allaboutbusiness.com, bizstats.com and SBDC.net. Learn the habits of your A customer: Your A customer: is profitable, has a high conversion rate and is approachable. Look into their: demographics/location, preferred communication channels, interests/hobbies and concerns. Lastly but most importantly, know your UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION. What do you bring to the market that is new/better? Always express your unique selling proposition, this is the crux of your brand.
Create short term (12 months) and long term (5 year) goals. Your goals MUST be Specific: Be clear on what you want to achieve. Measurable: include observable actions. Actionable: focus only on things that are within your control/influence. Relevant: prioritize on goals that fulfil your mission by closing gaps identified in your SWOT analysis. Timeline: include a target date of completion. For example, one of your 12 month goals could be: to increase revenue from $200,000 to $300,000 by December 31st 2016. In setting your goals, start with the end in mind. What is the purpose of your company’s existence? Most entrepreneurs start a business to gain TIME & MONEY and contribute positively to the world.
Create objectives: STEPS/ACTIONS that must be taken to achieve each goal. Objectives must detail who, what, when and where of the activity and be linked to a goal. A good practice is to schedule objectives on your calendar to ensure completion. Include your team members in the process early on so that everyone has a stake in execution. Lastly, remember that your marketing plan is a dynamic document, measure your activities to see what’s working. Be flexible to make adjustments when necessary. Marketing is the life blood of your company. As you achieve goals, set new ones so that you continue to improve and grow as a business.
About Author: Maria Asuelimen, Managing Partner of AMA Consulting is a business leader with over 13 years of management experience in various industries and federal government contracting field. Her wealth of experience has been a great resource for small businesses in the Washington DC Metro Area, to include the U.S Small Business Administration where she managed a portfolio of 100 8(a) small businesses. If you’re interested in more information on AMA Consulting, please visit www.amaconsultonline.com
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