Marketing Plan: Why It’s Essential and How to Make Your Own
For businesses, making a marketing plan helps answer the following questions:
- Which customers to target?
- Why target them?
- How to reach them and with what actions?
- How to position yourself against the competition?
- What performance indicators should be used?
Therefore, making a marketing plan will allow you to have a detailed view of all the steps of the marketing strategy that will allow you to reach your objectives.
In this article, we explain how to make a marketing plan, and how to make your own.
Marketing Plan: Definition
Here is the definition of the marketing plan that we can give:
The marketing plan allows translating business objectives into marketing actions on a market. It is a necessary passage for the implementation of marketing actions to be done with customers and prospects that you want to reach.
A marketing plan consists of organizing a project that your company intends to carry out over a well-defined period.
Whether it is :
- The launching of a product,
- A commercial operation,
- The creation of a service.
In short, the marketing plan is a roadmap that guides your marketing strategy. It lists the actions that you will implement to reach your objectives, in addition to quantifying them and defining the performance indicators to be used.
What Is the Purpose of a Marketing Plan?
Clear and concise, the marketing plan is a document that guides your marketing actions. It includes all the steps you will have to go through as well as their implementation.
The marketing plan includes :
- The actors who will participate,
- The marketing strategy applied,
- And the essential figures such as the duration of your campaign and the necessary budget.
It is therefore a roadmap. The marketing planning allows you to know which actions to undertake at which time, and thus to increase the chances of success of your projects.
In this regard, we can advise you on the best marketing agencies to carry out your projects.
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The 8 Steps to Build a Marketing Plan
Now that we know the definition and usefulness of a marketing plan, how do we go about building one?
We will answer this question in the following article, but in any case, know that a marketing agency can help you.
Internal and External Analysis of Your Brand
The basis of this step is the realization of a summary note about your company. Indeed, before launching yourself on any market, it is important to define :
- Who you are,
- Why you act,
- And what is your project.
The first step is to analyze your company, whether you are in b2c or b2b. What are its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats? Do you have specific competitive advantages?
Take stock of the current situation.
Knowing your business will allow you to define a solid basis for your plan. And for this purpose, an analysis toolbox exists.
This analysis allows you to determine the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities of an organization. In concrete terms, there is an internal and an external level.
This first level consists in analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of an organization. What are the advantages of your company? Do you have technical know-how, a particularly competent team, or a brand that everyone knows?
On the other hand, what are its weaknesses? Do you need to improve your advertising, your use of social networks, or strengthen your internal and external communication?
This first level consists in making a synthesis of the internal point of view of the company.
This second level consists of analyzing the opportunities and threats that a company faces.
For example, are there growth opportunities in your market? Is the policy of your country likely to evolve in your favor? And so on.
On the other hand, is your company active in a sector that is likely to generate negative media coverage? Is the demand for your product or service likely to be affected by a change in market direction? And so on.
Thus, the SWOT analysis provides a summary of your brand’s situation, both internally and externally.
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This analysis focuses on the external elements that can impact a company and its market share.
In concrete terms, each letter corresponds to a specific element:
This analysis allows us to assess the environment in which a company evolves.
Analysis of your competitors
Finally, the last practical tool to use is the analysis of your competitors.
Take the time to analyze the brands you are dealing with. Analyze their strategy, their publications, their messages, their website, their prices, and the services they offer. This will allow you to understand how they address their customers and what message they use.
This analysis will give you inspiration and ideas for your future marketing plan.
Define Your Objectives
The next step is to define your objectives. These should be based on the findings of your business analysis.
Based on what you have learned, what is the most relevant objective to move your business forward? Set the most appropriate one to grow your business, protect yourself from a competitor, take advantage of a new opportunity, etc.
Examples of marketing objectives
In concrete terms, a marketing plan can fulfill several types of missions:
- Increase sales
- Improve the results of a sales page
- Increase customer loyalty / a type of consumer
- Strengthen your brand awareness
- Improve the way your brand is perceived
- Get more traffic to your website
Set SMART goals
In any case, whatever the goal you want to achieve, set it in a SMART approach.
This means that your goal must meet certain criteria and be :
This will allow you to have a very precise objective, which you can easily measure and reach within a defined period of time.
Break it down into concrete actions, and then plan each of these actions according to a specific schedule. The idea is to help you know when to do what action to get closer to your goal.
Analyze Your Target Market
This step consists in clearly identifying the buyer persona and keeping it in mind in all phases of your marketing planning.
Indeed, the more your marketing actions will be targeted and oriented in the right direction, the more effective they will be.
It is therefore at this stage that you must clearly define the market segment you are targeting.
Questions to ask yourself
In concrete terms, there are two types of questions to ask yourself:
- Who is the ideal customer for your product or services?
- Which market segment is most likely to provide a good return on your marketing investments?
Criteria to use
You can use several criteria to answer these two questions:
- Socio-demographics: age, gender, income level, education
- Geography: Place of living, places of leisure
- Psychography: Opinions, lifestyle
The idea is to define the profile of the target that is likely to become a customer. This is who your marketing actions will be aimed at.
Once you know your target market, you will be able to better define the positioning that your offer should adopt.
Define Your Product Positioning
You know your company, your objective, and your target customer. The next step is to define how to position your product to reach your target, and therefore your objective.
How can you position your product to meet your customers’ expectations? What is the strength of your product that you can put forward?
In concrete terms, this means knowing your offer perfectly, to know how to put it forward in the best way.
The challenge is to find the alignment between what speaks to your audience and the strength of your product.
Choose your marketing channels
Logically, the next step is to choose the marketing channels that will allow you to present your offer to your target, in order to reach your objective.
There are many types of communication channels you can use. That said, depending on your target and your objective, some channels will be more relevant than others.
Generally speaking, we can make a distinction between two types of tools.
- Blog posts / Website
- Social networks
- Inbound marketing
- Adwords / Display campaigns
- Mobile marketing
- Influencer marketing
- Public relations / press articles
There are many possibilities, and a communication agency can advise you on the most relevant channels to use according to your strategy.
Choose Your Distribution Channels
Beyond reaching your audience with your messages, it is also necessary to plan the channels you will use to distribute your products and services.
Indeed, distribution is the sinews of war and the success of your business depends on it. You must succeed in creating the smoothest possible shopping experience for your customers.
Depending on your company, your sector (b2b or b2c), and your product, this can be done via :
- An online store / E-Commerce website
- Marketplaces (Booking, Amazon, Etc.)
So take the time to know how you are going to reach your customers physically, beyond simply reaching them with your messages. Research the best combination of channels to use.
Establish Your Marketing Budget
The second to last step before concluding: define your budget. Specifically, what budget will you need to carry out your plan?
It will be necessary to quantify each of your actions on a document. Each marketing channel and each distribution channel constitutes an expense item.
Therefore, take the time to quantify your plan to avoid unpleasant surprises.
Measuring the Performance of Your Communication
Finally, the last step to follow: define how you will measure your performance.
Indeed, using marketing only makes sense if you are able to evaluate its impact. For this, it is necessary to use well-defined indicators.
We have an article dedicated to key performance indicators. Do not hesitate to consult it.
That said, remember that the best performance indicators depend mainly on your objectives. In the end, the whole point of these indicators is to know if you have reached your objectives or not.
For example, if your objective was to improve your reputation, you can look at how the reach of your posts on social networks has evolved. Or, if you wanted to increase your sales, look at its evolution before and after your plan.
And depending on your results, you can improve your planning as you go along.
Again, a marketing agency can help you with this.
You have mastered the theory, you have studied the market, you have developed objectives and defined concrete actions. You know how to make a marketing plan and all that’s left is to put it into action.
Once you have put your plan into action, keep an eye on your project, observe its evolution and its effectiveness.
Also remember to synchronize it with the rest of the company’s activities so that they do not conflict.