Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur Contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur United States, an international franchise from Entrepreneur Media.
Formulating the right components of a marketing plan is critical to helping business owners set goals, convert their target audience into stable and loyal customer bases, and create a guide for organizing and structuring priorities. Within a marketing plan, it is important to implement practical marketing strategies that can create a stable foundation for the overall flow of the business.
Understanding the need for a marketing plan will ultimately help business owners minimize risk factors and set actionable goals that will ultimately help advance the company's position in the marketplace. This also applies to established companies, because there is always room for improvement.
Now let's see what components make a good marketing plan. Of course, some of the specifics vary by type of business and industry, but ultimately, here are some key elements that business owners should consider.
Related: The Ingredients of a Small Business Marketing Plan
Objectives and procedures
Strategic marketing plans should list the company's goals and procedures. These goals help justify the resources in production, sales and marketing, while the procedures help turn certain goals into reality. For example, a goal may encourage the intent to refine a company's public brand or image, while the strategic processes serve to distinguish the most pertinent formulas and techniques required to achieve those beneficial results.
Additionally, these goals and procedures must be clear and concise so that employees can easily understand and implement them.
Define your target market
Breaking down your target market allows a company to study and explore the fundamentals needed to maximize the company's sales and overall growth. This helps in developing effective marketing communication strategies to promote the needs and traits the company must have in order to reach the right audience.
Take cleaning tools or disinfectant sprays, for example. While a traditional household benefits from a clean home, commercials and advertisements are usually aimed at the female head of the household. This strategy doesn't always work, however, as it is often the individual who benefits from the product itself that the company should focus more on.
We can also look at the example of children and toys. While the parents ultimately have the final say on whether to buy a toy, the child plays an essential role in persuading them. So if the target audience is geared towards children, the likelihood of purchase also improves. Therefore, the detailed analysis of the target group is of great importance for the development of the company as a whole.
You can start with market research, then analyze the demographics that they belong to, and from there you begin to understand the habits, needs, desires and lifestyle of the consumer. Following your market research, you can test your results and validate the demand. That way, you can more efficiently outline your marketing tactics and then focus on developing the product or service and ultimately promoting the business.
Related: Why Gratitude Is The Best Marketing Plan Ever Made
Develop a strategic marketing process
Strategic marketing processes are the applicable methods used based on a categorical marketing plan. This plan describes how a company intends to enter the market, which avenues it is considering to acquire and use, and which key components of the company will be affected by any type of marketing effort or initiative. These processes essentially transform your marketing plan into a series of steps that will help you identify and achieve your broader marketing and sales goals.
This may involve identifying and defining your mission statement, which sets out the core principles of the company's branding. You can expand even further by sketching an accompanying vision statement. This, in turn, helps convey the company's purpose and value proposition: the number one reason a consumer should consider buying a product or service from you.
Determine the ultimate channels for advertising
This is probably one of the most important aspects of your marketing plan that you want to promote your product or service. You need to understand the needs and expectations of your customers so you can address them anywhere, whether it's at home on the Internet, in the car while listening to a radio commercial, watching a commercial on TV, or in a store.
It is not important to focus on all possible channels. It focuses on the right channels to maximize your business growth. Some channels like this one can include, but are not limited to, websites, social media, print or online magazines, pay per click marketing, email marketing, SEO, press releases, chatbots, webinars, seminars, and word of mouth.
Follow your marketing budget
While most business owners know that setting a marketing budget is key to any business's survival, staying on budget is even more important. Sometimes business owners analyze the competition by aggressively investing in expensive media ads, commercials, or billboards in hopes of competing with their larger competitors. However, such potentially irrational decisions can do more harm than good to the company. It is much safer to maintain a more conservative marketing budget that is spread out over time and stays within the boundaries of the company's marketing allocation, which helps keep the overall operating budget on track.
All in all, an effective marketing plan is critical to the success of your own business. While these points are nowhere near all of the steps a business owner needs to focus on to help a business stay intact, the plan itself helps the business owner and management team make more informed decisions that will enable the business to do so grow and increase the potential market share and profitability. It provides a roadmap for aligning the company's functional activities, thereby increasing operational efficiency. It forms the foundation of a company.
When a company expands, especially in the midst of ever-changing industries and world markets, the likelihood that it will grow steadily depends on the strength of its foundation and structure. So, with a solid marketing plan in place, the stability of the company remains grounded and prepared for any obstacles ahead.
Related: 10 Marketing Strategies To Promote Your Business Growth