The world of advertising is almost unrecognisable from even as recently as ten years ago – rather than finding products and services through print adverts or traditional media, people are far more likely to be influenced by social media, which means that your marketing plan needs to adapt accordingly, even if social media isn’t really your thing. But what is a marketing plan and do you really need one?
A marketing plan is something which a business will use to outline their marketing strategy for the year, setting out a budget, key dates in your businesses calendar and what you want to acheive in the coming months. Having one isn’t a concrete rule, but winging it without one could see your marketing going totally off-piste, leaving your small business flagging.
Identify your ideal client
The best place to start is by identifying your audience – who are your customers, what age group do they fall in and where does their money come from? If you’re selling something which appeals to pensioners, then recruiting an Instagrammer to advertise your wares is going to fall very short of the mark! Equally, if you’re aiming at a younger audience, then a punchy, visual campaign is going to be a wise direction for you to head in.
As well as analysing your target audience, you’re going to want to look at the broader market too – who are your main rivals in your area of business and how does their business perform? Having an in-depth knowledge of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (or SWOT for short) will give you the best foundation from which to build your business.
Creating a calendar for your marketing strategy is often a good place to start, as this will allow you to pinpoint key dates, and help you to map out what you want to happen and when. It’s also important to keep your marketing plan up to date, as and when things change both with your business and key trends – something which might seem relevant to your business in January might be totally obsolete by June, so it’s a good idea to allow wiggle room within your plans otherwise your advertising could fall very flat.
Money doesn’t always talk, strategy does
It’s worth bearing in mind that a realistic attitude is important when making your plan. Throwing money at social media advertising in the hope you’ll hit paydirt when something goes viral isn’t a solid basis for a business and overspending to make something happen will only be detrimental to your bottom line in the long run. Unless your finances are a bottomless pot of gold, you’re going to want to be careful about how you allocate your resources!
Finally, don’t be afraid to get creative – or turn your ideas over to someone else who’s creative! Working alone when your business is your baby will cut down on costs but it won’t give you the most subjective overview of what you’re dealing with and short consultation with a marketing professional can ensure that you’re on the right tracks without wasting money on marketing which simply won’t work for you.