Developing an effective marketing strategy is crucial for any business that wants to have success. Every accomplished businessperson has heard about these important elements of a marketing plan. Sadly, many small business owners don’t take marketing seriously despite knowing how important it is for the growth of their company.
We have seen many smaller companies do their marketing in a chaotic manner – doing a little bit of branding, advertising, and sales here and there, but not having much of an idea about the impact of their activities.
Not having your marketing plan elements set up properly could lead to a waste of resources and money in the future. In marketing (and in business generally) it’s a good idea to have set goals, activities and ways of measuring your efforts.
When you are just starting to write a marketing plan, it is important to first focus on the main elements you want to address. Some of the marketing elements can be situational, but most of them are usually derived from standard marketing principles. Those principles stay true to any business, from a hair salon to an international logistics business.
5 Basic Elements of a Marketing Plan
Conducting market research can be one of the most tedious tasks at first, but it will pay dividends for years after. This part should take up the biggest chunk of your planning – sure, too much research and not enough action can be harmful, but in most cases, we see people not going in-depth enough and ending up paying expensive marketing companies to do their homework for them.
1. Market Research
1. Market Size
This is incredibly important for local businesses. What is the approximate market size for your product/service? For example, if you are selling cars: how many households there are in your area, that have a base income of over ____? How often do people buy new cars in your area?
2. Industry Standards
Current sales statistics in your industry, for example, average pricing, average turnovers and so on.
3. Market dynamics/seasonality
Are your products/services seasonal? When do people tend to purchase more and when less? This is incredibly important when planning your advertising activities.
4. Competition analysis
Who are they? How do they do their marketing activities? How could their activities impact your company? How does their product/service differ from others?
5. Product/service analysis
How does your product/service compare to others in the market? What are your main selling points? How does your product/service stand out? Are there any smaller things you could tweak to make a fast improvement?
2. Target market
Knowing your target market is a crucial element for any sort of marketing activity – otherwise, you could end up taking shots in the dark.
A good way to identify your target market is to look at the customer base you already have.
When identifying your target market look at the following data:
- Age: What is the average age range for your customers?
- Gender: Are your customers male/female or both?
- Language: What language do your customers speak?
- Interests: Are there any commonalities between your customers in terms of their interests?
- Stage of life: In what stage of life are your customers? For example, they could be college students or parents.
We recommend reading this article for more information on target market identification.
Setting the right goals will help you to define the most appropriate marketing strategies and budgets. When setting your marketing goals, you should first consider analyzing the goals of your business/organization.
Goals give businesses directions and ambitions – without them, it would be difficult to grow and expand.
Business goals could be, for example, increasing sales revenue, expanding the customer base, increasing customer satisfaction, increasing customer lifetime value and so on.
Knowing your business goals will help you to set appropriate marketing goals that will directly support your business.
Good marketing goals have one thing in common – they are measurable. Because of the nature of marketing, it is quite often difficult to objectively measure the impact of your efforts. Digital marketing has made goal tracking much more measurable then it was in the past, but often our marketing activities will still have effects we cannot see.
Your marketing goals could be increasing brand awareness, increasing the number of leads that your sales team gets, increasing in-store traffic and so on.
4. Marketing strategy
After doing your market research, identifying your target audience and setting your marketing goals the next important element is to develop a marketing strategy. Select what marketing or promotional strategies you want to work on.
Some of the most common ones are:
- Advertising in print media (newspapers, journals, magazines, directories)
- Advertising on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Tiktok)
- Advertising on Google (Google Ads, display network, youtube, SEO)
- Submitting press releases and gaining publicity
- Direct marketing letters, flyers
- Attending different trade shows
- Direct selling by calling prospects or e-mailing them
- Writing articles to different media outlets
And the list can go on.
Here are some other ideas and strategies that might help to get your imagination working:
- Depending on the business it is also possible to incorporate different offer strategies like seasonal offers, discounts or added benefits which will also assist your business goals.
- Easiest sales usually come from referrals. If you can find a way to get more referrals through your marketing work, you could bring in some fast results.
- Unconventional methods could also bring a lot of attention. These could be doing product demonstrations in unusual places, doing a flash mob in the streets, we’ve even seen companies put stickers in public places to get more attention.
One of the most important elements in your marketing plan is going to be your budget. The size of your marketing activities is going to be determined by the budget you can spend on different campaigns.
What things can you do by yourself – what services do you need to outsource? Which strategies are looking more promising?
When setting your budget, also think about what has worked for you in the past– if possible expand on that.