Monday, May 12, 2014

Starting a New Venture: Marketing Plan Basics for Entrepreneurs

Guest Post by Christina Motley, Christina Motley LLC

You have a great idea, business plan and investors for your start-up company, and you’re ready to hit the ground running. So why spend time developing a marketing plan? Because according to the Small Business Administration, 80% of small businesses close their doors within the first five years. This is due in part to poor or no marketing efforts.

Many business owners think
marketing is easy and fun. While many small business owners attempt to do their own marketing, it’s more important they specialize in what they do best – operating the business and developing new opportunities. Smart business owners recognize this fact and choose to partner with marketing firms or advertising agencies to drive their marketing efforts.

Marketing should not be an afterthought when building a business. Developing a strategic marketing plan is as essential to your business’ success as having a business plan. If you don’t know your desired destination, how are you going to get there?

Similar to business plans, marketing plans are not set in stone. The marketing plan serves as a roadmap and should be revisited annually and updated as needed. This plan is also a powerful tool because it keeps a business focused and true to its vision. Everyone within the organization needs to be aware of the plan because one person or department doesn’t own marketing. It’s a shared responsibility.

Where do you start to develop your marketing plan? While marketing plans range from simple to complicated and vary based on business needs, every plan should include the following:

  1. Market research, which may include primary, secondary, formal and informal research.
  2. Competitive assessment of the marketplace and specific industry, including best practices.
  3. Evaluation and analysis of the business. This part of the plan identifies:Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT)Competitive advantage/unique value proposition
    Target audience(s) and personas

    Mission, vision, brand attributes and key messages

  4. Clearly defined short- and long-term goals. These goals should include key performance and success metrics to measure, evaluate and make adjustments as needed.
  5. Specific strategies (the what and why) to achieve the goals, including measurable objectives for evaluating progress.
  6. Specific tactics (the how) and a step-by-step plan (who is responsible for which tactic) to achieve the goals.
  7. A realistic budget (usually 5-10% of revenue, but varies by industry) that supports the goals, strategies, objectives and tactics.
  8. Identification of one person to oversee and manage the plan.
With these elements in the marketing plan, you can begin implementation and execution of the tactics. Keep in mind that part of the implementation includes measuring results and reporting progress to the entire organization.

You know the saying: First impressions are often lasting impressions. In the ever-expanding business world of increased global competition and tough economic climates, a start-up business’ first impression can make the difference. And a business that develops and implements a strategic marketing plan is poised for growth and will make a positive, lasting impression.

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate Christina for sharing such handy notes about marketing plans in this guest post. It's really a worthy allocation and I've enjoyed reading it through. For entrepreneurs this post will be very educative indeed. Thanks.