A marketing plan is a roadmap that explains how your business will generate more leads and sales. It includes every key strategy that will affect your marketing results from your brand positioning and pricing to your promotional efforts.
Below you will learn everything you must include in your marketing plan so you can effectively grow your business.
Sections to Include in Your Marketing Plan
Your marketing strategy and plan should include 11 sections as follows:
- Executive Summary
- Target Market Segments
- Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
- Pricing and Positioning Strategy
- Distribution Strategy
- Marketing Materials
- Promotions Strategy
- Online Marketing Strategy
- Conversion, Referral and Retention Strategy
- Financial Projections
Each of these sections are explained in detail below along with examples.
An executive summary is the first to appear and last to be written in a marketing plan. The contents include a condensed version of all the findings of the rest of the marketing plan. Keep it brief and to the point so anyone who reads it immediately understands the salient points.
Target Market Segments
To successfully market something you first need to analyze the market’s needs to figure out where the right opportunity exists. Unless you have this information, you will be shooting in the dark and your marketing ROI (return on investment) will suffer. So, start with a detailed analysis of your target customers and their wants and needs.
What are their needs? In the above case, their primary need as related to your product could be to convey an attractive and professional appearance. Other needs for different products or services could include safety, convenience, ambience, price, variety and exclusivity. Finding out the key problems of your target audience will effectively direct all other marketing decisions.
You also must note the 80/20 rule when creating your customer profile. The 80/20 rule states that 20% of your customers will generate 80% of your revenue.
The point is this….clearly some people who buy from you will not fall neatly into the detailed description of your target customer. That’s ok. By focusing on marketing to and serving your core customer, you’ll get more of the 20% you want and thus much more “bang for your marketing buck.”
Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Your product and/or service’s USP helps put them ahead of similar offerings made by your competitors. Therefore, it is vital that you create a strong and memorable USP that will make your product and/or service more desirable. A USP could be physical in nature like a product’s form, quality, durability, design or features. It could also be the additional services you provide when a customer buys your product like delivery, customer service or installation. Your target market research will come in handy here as it will tell you exactly the kind of products and services your target group needs and desires the most.
Here are some more USP examples used by local businesses:
- We are the only car repair shop that will buy your car if you are not 100 percent satisfied (USP of customer service)
- Delivered in 30 minutes or less (USP of speed)
- Our recipe is so secret, only three people in the world know it (USP of exclusivity)
Pricing and Positioning Strategy
Your pricing strategy attempts to fulfill one or more of the following goals: improve sales, market share or profits, get ahead of a competitor or create barriers for any new entrants. Focus on what your most pertinent objectives are and formulate your prices accordingly.
Furthermore, the strength of your product’s USP also influences your pricing flexibility. More unique products can legitimately quote higher prices, while a product with a more generic USP will have a hard time doing so.
Pricing strategy can also influence the value of your business from a buyer or investor’s perspective. Companies that are able to secure ongoing revenue streams in the form of subscriptions or monthly recurring payments tend to generate higher valuations as there is greater revenue certainty in these models.
Positioning your product and/or service a certain way also will determine its perception among your customer base. For example:
Your distribution strategy details how customers will buy from you. It could include a brick-and-mortar store, an ecommerce site, wholesale distributors, retail stores, mail catalogs or some combination of the above. Base your decision on customer research. That is, find the methods or places your customers find most convenient to buy from and offer your product through those channels.
Offers like buy-one-get-one-free, discounts and guarantees are classic offers that when leveraged correctly attract new customers and maintain the loyalty of existing customers. Ideally you can position offers in a way that makes them a win-win for your business and customers.
You can use different marketing materials like official website, mail catalogs or brochures to help spread offers, identify what offers and marketing materials might resonate most with your target audience and spend your resources accordingly.
Your marketing materials include the visual and tactical representation of your brand. These items include your logo and other visual identity elements; your website and social media accounts; signage, brochures or other print collateral; and case studies and testimonials.
Having brand guidelines in place ensures that the look and feel of all marketing materials is consistent between the materials themselves and with your overall brand. This consistency means customers will recognize and feel familiar with your brand, whether they are walking into your brick-and-mortar store, browsing your mobile app or using your product.
Your promotions strategy will determine how you communicate with your target customers about your product and/or service. Your strategy could include advertisements on TV, billboards, radio, catalogs, product placements in movies and more Your choice of promotional channels must be influenced by who your target market is and how it likes to consume information. For instance, if your target customer base is adolescents then taking out an ad in a newspaper would largely be ineffective.
When detailing your promotions strategy, be sure to include a description of each tactic, the estimated cost involved and how / when you will evaluate ROI and determine whether to modify tactic or switch course entirely.
Online Marketing Strategy
Online marketing should be a central component of most any business’ marketing plan today as customers of all types increasingly spend time online transacting or evaluating potential transactions. There are several components to a successful online marketing strategy: your website, social media accounts and supporting paid and organic web traffic efforts.
Your website is an extension of your business and should be consistent with the spirit of your brand and easy to interact with. A clunky, cluttered website will quickly turn off customers, who seldom give second chances when it’s as easy as a click of a button to move onto a better option.
Maintaining an active social media presence or leveraging influencers in your space to promote your product enables you to reach broad swaths of prospective buyers. Your accounts must be engaging and attractive to your target market as well as content-specific to the platform itself.
These core pieces of online real estate are then supported by your paid and organic online advertising efforts. By including content-rich blog posts, articles or videos that include your industry’s key terms or words, you will boost your organic visibility in customers’ search results. Similarly, by investing in paid advertising you ensure that you appear in those same searches, but as an advertised result.
Conversion, Referral and Retention Strategy
In this section, you should detail each of your customer pathways and the resulting conversion from each path. For certain pathways (like an ecommerce site) this data will be more readily trackable and easier to discern. For other more qualitative efforts (such as the purchase of an ad in a magazine), it may be more difficult to quantify your conversion results.
Think through and identify how you might improve your conversions across various pathways. For example:
Also think through in this section what you can do to increase the conversions of referrals from past customers. Can you incentivize your happiest customers to leave you a great online review, gift a sample of one of your products to a friend or recommend you reach out to a family member who might benefit from your services?
All of the efforts outlined above will ensure you retain your best existing customers and build loyalty with them.
Every marketing plan must include financial projections that will estimate the overall cost of engaging in certain marketing strategies including the results of their implementation in terms of new sales, profits and customers. Even though these will just be estimates they will still highlight which strategies have the potential to gross the highest ROI.
Financial projections need to be revisited time and time again to assess how well the marketing plan has been implemented and what can be done better. Analyzing metrics like cost per sale, average ticket price and retention rates will help you understand which marketing tactics are working and which need to be revisited.
Marketing Plan Template
Below is a strategic marketing plan template to use. Simply answer the key questions below to complete your plan:
- Our target customers are:
- Our unique selling proposition is:
- Our pricing and positioning strategy is:
- Our distribution strategy includes:
- The key offers we will use to attract customers include:
- The marketing materials we will use are:
- The promotional methods we will use to attract customers include:
- Our online marketing strategy includes:
- The strategies we will use to increase our customer conversion rates, referrals and customer retention include:
- Our key financial projections from implementing our marketing plan include:
Use this marketing plan template and guide today to create a marketing plan to grow your customer base and company!