Marketing simply is the business of promoting and selling products or services. Traditional marketing utilizes strategies such as direct sales, TV, radio, mail, print advertising (magazines, coupon books, billboards) and printed promotional materials (catalogs or brochures).
Digital or online marketing can be an inexpensive, effective and measurable marketing tactic to drive customer traffic and improve your overall business. Digital marketing includes social media, online advertising, content marketing (blog, email marketing, social media) and of course a website. It is recommended that businesses follow the 80:20 rule when allocating funds between online:traditional marketing.
Developing a marketing plan is an important first step for businesses. A marketing and/or communications plan should be included in a company’s Business Plan. Creating, following and updating a marketing plan can help you to sustainably grow your business. Marketing is highly important because it is the mediums that put you into contact with your customers. A well thought out business plan will allow your company to:
- Keep your company speaking with one consistent voice across a multiple platforms, products, regions, and customer interactions.
- Standout from your competitors.
- Consistently resonate with their target markets.
- Plan your marketing tactics, campaigns and budgets to save time and money.
- Conduct and manage market research.
All companies can build their marketing effectiveness by thoroughly understanding the:
- Target markets
o It is best to create customer profiles
- Who are your existing and potential customers? What is the best way to communicate with them?
- Buying, selling, and communications processes
o How do your customers prefer to buy? How are you set up to sell? What tactics or channels best facilitate buying and selling?
Your marketing plan should at least discuss the following sections:
- Objectives: What should result from your marketing plan and activities?
- Buying and selling process: Your customer’s buying process are the steps that customers follow when making a purchase. Your selling process is the set of steps that your sales team goes through when making a sale.
- Messages: What do you want customers to know? How do they want to receive your messages?
- Tactics: What tools or channels should you use to convey your messages?
- Budget and schedule: How much do your tactics cost? What is your budget? When should you run your campaigns?
An effective marketing plan must begin with market research and a thorough understanding of the areas mentioned above.
It is very important for companies to track and measure their success. This means tracking your Return On Investment (ROI). The more quantifiable the metrics (e.g. a 5% increase in sales/market share or lead generation) – the better your future plans will be.
Your plan should create a plan that addresses each step in the marketing and communication process. Realistically, limited budgets will require prioritization. Typically new markets, products or services will require more work and therefor a larger budget.