Without the right marketing, your business can never reach its actual potential. Without an effective marketing plan, your marketing just cannot be right. Before getting into the how-to of a cohesive marketing plan, it is essential to understand what a marketing plan is, its purpose, and its uses.
A marketing plan is basically a detailed outline of marketing goals, activities, and various strategies to achieve those goals. Ideally, marketing goals align with the organizational goals, and identifying these goals is the most important step in creating a marketing plan.
What is the Purpose of a Marketing Plan?
A marketing plan is a very important business document. It not only outlines the activities of the marketing department but helps the department co-ordinate with the other departments of the organization.
There can be various purposes of a marketing plan; an example may be: Business A aims to increase its product A sales by 10% in a month. In this case, the marketing plan will be designed to reach this particular goal, and may have strategies like ‘20% discount on product A’s selling price to increase sales’.
Uses of a Marketing Plan:
A marketing plan may be used for one or more of the following:
- Launching a new product into the market: A plan with this purpose would focus on increasing awareness and recognition of the brand in the target market.
- Moving to a new market: A brand looking to shift its focus to a new market segment or a new market altogether will use a marketing plan that focuses on how to adapt to the new market.
- Achieving goals: The most important use of a marketing plan is to achieve the organization’s short-term and long-term goals. These may range from survival to profit maximization or anything in between.
There are more uses of a marketing plan, too, but the above listed are the most common ones.
Tips to Create a Cohesive Marketing Plan:
Now that you know the importance and usage of a marketing plan, here is what you need to do in order to create a cohesive marketing plan:
- Highlighting Your USP (Unique Selling Point): First things first: know your brand. It is important to identify why your brand is sell-able, what makes it different, and what is its benefits. Knowing your Unique Selling Point can help you convince the market why your customers should buy your product. Once you know how to flaunt that one point that makes your brand stand out, your customers will see it too
- Identify and Understand Your Target Audience: This point cannot be stressed enough. If you don’t identify and target the correct audience/market, it would be like waiting for a train at the airport, or like trying to sell hair dye to a bald person. Your target audience can only be identified by thorough market research and analysis. It is only after the understanding of the audience that you can decide or plan other aspects of your business. Understanding your target audience includes making a ‘persona’ i.e. a profile of the potential customer that includes their gender, social class, age group, interests, dislikes, geographical details, and other details. By following this ‘persona’, you can then set the brand’s marketing tone and language. For example, if your customers are likely to be Social Class A’s businessmen or highly-educated men, your marketing tone would be more formal, precise, and strictly professional. On the other hand, a youth-oriented brand would communicate rather freely, with an engaging, informal, conversational tone. Other aspects of the marketing plan including designing, colors, etc are also determined by this persona.
- Alignment of Goals:
- Organizational goals, as mentioned earlier, must be aligned with marketing goals. If the two are not aligned, the company is unlikely to have any signs of progress. Hence, the marketing plan should outline SMART goals i.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-specific. Goals that meet this criterion are likely to allow a better plan.
- Choose the Right Mediums: There are various platforms available for advertising and promotion of businesses now. To name a few, you have SMS marketing, email marketing, TV commercials, digital media and so on. Which platform you choose depends on your audience, your budget, and a number of other factors. For example, a product for the elderly would most likely need a TVC or print media promotion, while a younger audience is more easily reachable on social media platforms.
- Go for Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL): Instead of focusing your team’s energy on generating new leads or approaching cold leads, target qualified leads i.e. people who have already shown interest in your product/service.
There is a lot going on on a marketing plan – how you organize it makes it an effective and cohesive marketing plan.