A structured marketing plan takes time and thought to complete, but when it’s finished, it acts as a detailed roadmap for meeting your marketing goals. Whether you want to increase sales, build brand and customer loyalty, or find new customers, the plan outlines what you need to do on a continuous basis to grow your business.
It gets tempting to change tactics and tools when business seems slow, but a structured marketing plan helps remind you of the direction you’re headed and why. In the absence of a structured marketing plan, you may feel tempted to make advertising decisions without thoroughly thinking about them. When you use your marketing plan as a guide to advertising and promotion, you rely on that, instead of impromptu decisions, to make choices about where to spend advertising dollars. This saves money while keeping your marketing team focused on completing tasks that make the most sense in reaching your company’s goals.
Finding ways to stay competitive and gain a share of the market is key to growing your company. By including an analysis of all of your competitors in a marketing plan, you know what they do and how they do it, so can determine the factors that make your company stand out from them. The competitive analysis section of your plan also helps you review your products and services to find ways to make them different than competing companies so you gain market share.
The target market to which you sell your products and services is key to making sales. A solid marketing plan provides a detailed look of the demographics of your target market, such as age, location, education and needs. You can use the plan to outline the characteristics of specific segments of your target market that offer the most potential for making sales. Your plan then acts as a reminder of where your best markets are and the most effective ways to approach them.
The promotional, advertising and publicity tactics you outline in your marketing plan act as a guide for the activities you need to implement. Most marketing plans set up a course of action for 12 months, giving you a way to stay on track to meet your goals. The most detailed marketing plans assign responsibilities and timelines for each marketing task so everyone knows what they’re doing and when.