One common attribute of small businesses is that they don’t plan their marketing. This is dangerous. If you want to do the right marketing activities, the right way, you must start with a marketing plan. Without it, your marketing risks being reactive, inconsistent and probably ineffective – wasting time and money.
A good marketing plan gives you a clear indication of what you need to do to get to where you want to go. An excellent marketing plan makes it a journey you’ll want to take.
When I talk about a marketing plan I am not referring to those academic exercises found in university marketing books or the often complicated and indecipherable templates found in business planning software. I will not be asking today. My guess is that you have no time or need for such complicated analysis; you just want to figure out how to get more customers.
The marketing plan I am talking about is a simple (in many cases one page) document that specifically answers who you are, what you do, who needs it, how you plan to grab them by the throat, and when you plan to do it; in a way that everyone in your organization, network, and client base can clearly understand. It is a written document that summarizes what you have learned about the marketplace and indicates how you plan to reach your marketing objectives (by incorporating tactical guidelines for the marketing programs).
A MARKETING PLAN FORMAT
There are dozens of approaches for creating a marketing plan, but as in almost everything in life, the simplest is usually the best. You don’t need to kill a tree to create a successful plan for your business in just one day. How? By employing the guerrilla marketing planning method. They start with a one-page plan that consists of seven sentences.
- Sentence one explains the purpose of your marketing
- Sentence two explains how you achieve that purpose by describing the substantive benefits you provide to clients.
- Sentence three describes your target market(s)
- Sentence four describes your niche
- Sentence five outlines the marketing weapons you will use
- Sentence six reveals the identity of your business
- Sentence seven provides your marketing budget.
If you have a marketing plan, take another look at it using the above as a yardstick. Does it address each of the seven pieces? If not, draft another one incorporating these seven sentences for your business.
Let me explain this with a hypothetical company – Yotomi meats
STEP ONE –
- The purpose of YOTOMI MEATS’ marketing program is to make the company the leader in selling beef to the residents of Magodo Estate, Lagos.
(Set Sales and Marketing Goals—Goals are critical to your success. A “wish” is a goal that hasn’t been written down. If you haven’t written your goals, you’re still just wishing for success.
When creating your goals use the SMART formula. Ensure that your goals Are, (1) Sensible (2) Measurable, (3) Achievable, (4) Realistic and (5) Time Specific.
Your goals should include financial elements such as annual sales revenue, Gross profit, sales per salesperson etc. however, they should also include Non-financial elements such as units sold, contracts signed, clients acquired, articles published etc.)
- This will be accomplished by positioning YOTMI MEATS as a seller of the freshest and most hygienic beef in Magodo area.
- YOTOMI’s target are the residents of Magodo area, and the key among these residents are the wives and mothers
- The firm’s niche is to provide the highest segment of the target area with beef that will meet the strictest hygiene conditions
- The marketing tools the company plans to use include:
- Dropping of well-written flyers and direct marketing by our sales representatives at banks, churches, hair-dressing salons and other places frequented by women in Magodo;
- A medium size bill-board with a most compelling graphics will be erected on the main access road into Magodo;
- Our meat will come in two attractive package sizes: 500 Naira and 10,000 Naira
- All major cold rooms in our target area will be supplied with our products (with generous margin to them);
- Utilize facebook extensively;
- YOTOMI MEATS will be seen as a provider of highest quality, fresh beef. To achieve this, all our marketing will reflect class ….
- The marketing budget will be 15% of profit.
(It should be noted that your marketing budget can be developed several ways depending on whether you want to be more exact or develop just a simple and easy template. It’s good to start out with a simple calculation and then to support it with further details. First, if you have been in business for over a year and tracked your marketing related expenditures you could easily calculate your “cost to acquire one customer” or cost to sell one product” by dividing your annual sales and marketing costs by the number of units (or customers acquired) sold.
The next step is to take your cost to sell one unit or acquire one customer and simply multiply it by your unit sales or customer acquisition goal. The result of this simple computation will give you a rough estimate of what you need to invest to meet your sales goals for the next year)
Once you have that one-page plan, you can develop a marketing roadmap that highlights the marketing weapons you’ll use and when you’ll use them. It could be something as simple as simple as the example below:
|TASK||START DATE||TO BE COMPLETED BY||ON DATE|
Some obvious parts of a marketing plan like SWOT analysis, competitor analysis, 4Ps, and target market are left out of the showcased template not because they are unimportant but, because these subjects will be dealt with in details in the subsequent chapters. After which you can incorporate them into your marketing plan.
EVALUATE YOUR MARKETING PLAN
How do you know you have developed an appropriate marketing plan? The following questions by Tim Berry and Doug Wilson provide the ultimate formula to answer this question:
- Is the plan simple? Is it easy to understand and act on? Does it communicate its content clearly and practically?
- Is the plan specific? Are its objectives concrete and measurable? Does it include specific actions and activities, each with specific dates of completion, specific persons responsible, and specific budget?
- Is the plan realistic? Are the sales goals, expense budgets, and milestone dates realistic? Has a frank and honest self-critique been conducted to raise possible concerns and objections?
- Is the plan complete? Does it include all the necessary elements? Does it have the right breadth and depth?
There you have it, The Seven-Step, One-Day Marketing Plan. It’s simple really. Of course, you’ll need to study up a bit more about your marketing medium(s) of choice, their appropriateness for your message, and their associated costs. But try not to make the development of your plan a laborious, drawn-out task. My advice is to make sure you set aside uninterrupted time to develop your important document to which you and your team members will ever refer.
One last word, a marketing plan can become quite complex, using marketing jargons, formulas, and lots of analysis. It would be self-defeating if you place heavy emphasis on the word “plan” and little emphasis on “implement”. If you are a small firm, you know that it is important to plan, but you must also not become paralyzed by planning. And most importantly, you must implement your plan.