A marketing plan should be a statement of intent – where you are, where you want to go and how you are going to get there.
Building a marketing plan
Any marketing plan should include the four Ps of marketing;
Building a marketing plan also means setting down a blueprint for effective marketing. It can also be a useful way of ironing out differences between colleagues about where the business is heading and creating a common goal.
Product and Pricing
The key to this is research. The more thorough your marketing plan is, the better. If your business is going to operate within a specific locality will the market support it? For example, if you plan to open a restaurant, how many already exist, what type of service do they offer and what are their prices like? How do they position themselves – greasy spoon, haute cuisine or take away? Will the locality support another restaurant or is the area already saturated? Check out rivals’ prices, too, and position your product accordingly.
If you have already established a small business and want to introduce new products or expand into other markets are the prospects for growth viable? Is there a niche for the product/service or do competitors have the market sewn up. How do you plan to sell the service – directly, mail order or via an agency? What distribution method will you use, where will your office be and do you need to supply after sales service?
Positioning means creating an identity for your business. You want to stand out from the crowd and be distinctive so you need to develop a brand identity that is instantly recognisable. This will build a platform from which to launch your product.
A business name is important and should reflect the value of the product or the service. Ideally it should be original and punchy if possible. Avoid naff names – it reflects poorly on the business and gives it an unprofessional appearance. How many hairdressers do you know called Snips, Cut n Curl or Blow Dry? Too many.
Before choosing a name check the business section at your local library or get in touch with Companies House to make sure you are not planning to use a name that is already in use. To create the brand identity, find a good local designer who can come up with letterheads, fascia design, business cards and packaging. Designers can also be found in the business section of the local library.
Design is one those curious trades which everybody thinks they can do themselves. There is an element of truth in this but designers are professionals who can create a unique identity and professional appearance for your business.
A good local designer need not be expensive and is as likely to be a small business itself sympathetic to your needs and ambitions.
All of these considerations have to be factored into a marketing plan and will form the foundation on which the fourth P – and considered to be the classic marketing tool – promotion, is built.
Customer targeting is the first and most important step in planning any kind of promotional activity. Jeff Holden of the Chartered Institute of Marketing recommends asking the following questions to provide a clearly defined target audience:
By answering these questions you will discover who your customers are. The next step is finding effective channels to communicate your message. These fall into three categories, media advertising (above-the-line), non-media communications (below-the-line) and public relations.
Media advertising consists of television, radio, the press, cinema, outdoor and transport. Non-media consists of sales literature, direct marketing, sponsorship, sales promotion and point of sale while public relations involves a range of activities which attempt to create a positive attitude towards your company or products.