Why is a marketing plan important?
Defining your target customers and identifying their needs are fundamental procedures of a successful business. It is impossible to design a product or a service without being aware of who is going to buy them. The questions that should arise are: Who needs my product? Whose needs will it satisfy? What are the benefits of using it? What are its advantages, the features that make it unique?
In order to define your target market you need to conduct market research. Business investors want to see real data and this data is also going to help you implement the marketing plan.
The target or niche markets include potential groups of customers. Your business may address consumer markets or industrial markets. The consumer market segmentation considers geographic, demographic, psychographic and behavioralistic customer characteristics. In industrial markets segmentation is based on different criteria, such as location, company type and behavioral features .
Link your marketing objectives to your business strategy. Understand your strengths and weaknesses, as well as the business environment. Use the SWOT analysis to highlight the internal and external factors that are going to influence your business.
When you describe your services it is very important to determine the staff needed, the level of expertise and the costs that will be required for these services to be provided.
Identify those promotional strategies that best match your target market. Prove that you know your industry sector trends, read case studies but also interact with your clients as much as possible.
Competition has to be identified and defined. Find out who your existing direct and indirect competitors are, list their advantages, their strengths and compare them to yours. Try to predict who your future competitors may be, for example, some companies using similar technology.
Your goals should be quantifiable. For this purpose, you need to be realistic and practical. You will need a certain number of customers and a sales volume to generate the desired revenue. Frame your objectives within a time period.
The four Ps, that is, product, price, place and promotion, should be considered in order to transform your marketing strategy into reality. Moreover, you need your key-tasks and operations to be scheduled.
In the end, you will make an evaluation of your marketing initiative. Your marketing campaign is successful if you have reached your goals, if you were able to correctly determine the ROI, if potential inquiring customers were converted to real ones, if a significant customer relationship management program was established.
You goals need to be clear and measurable, with realistic deadlines included, each marketing activity will have a separate budget and a person or more responsible for executing it. Progress will have to be also monitored and reviewed, as mistakes are likely to appear in a fast-changing business environment, and the plan will be constantly updated and improved.