How to Write a Marketing Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide

July 21, 2022

Do you want to increase sales for your business? If so, you need to develop a marketing strategy by putting together a marketing plan. A marketing plan is a document that outlines your marketing goals and strategies. It helps you stay organised and focused on your marketing efforts. In this blog post, I will provide a step-by-step guide on how to write a marketing plan. Let’s get started!

1. Define your target market

Before you can start marketing to your target audience, you need to first define who your target market is. Ask yourself: who are my ideal customers?

When it comes to marketing, it’s important to know who your ideal client is. An ideal client profile is a detailed description of your ideal customer, based on information like demographics, interests, and pain points. Creating an ideal client profile can help you focus your marketing efforts and attract the right kind of customers.

To build an ideal client profile, start by collecting data about your current customers. Look at things like their age, gender, location, and job title. Also consider their interests and hobbies, as well as any pain points they may have. If you are targeting businesses, not only will you want to define the ‘persona’ you wish to reach, but the business: sector, size, growth rate, location, or a user of particular product, for example. Once you have this information, you can start to build a picture of your ideal customer, their needs, behaviours and attitudes.

If you don’t have enough data about your current customers, you can also conduct market research. This can involve surveys, interviews, and focus groups. Once you have gathered this information, you’ll be able to create a more detailed ideal client profile.

Building an ideal client profile is an important part of effective marketing. By knowing who your ideal customer is, you can attract more of the right kind of business. More importantly, you can start to filter out who isn’t a good prospect and therefore, who you should avoid wasting your time and money on reaching.

2. Research your competition

It’s important to know who your competition is and what they are doing. This will help you create a marketing plan that differentiates you from your competitors.

To research your competition, start by searching for them online. Check out their website, social media accounts, and any other online presence they have. Then, take a look at their marketing materials. What do they say about their product or service? What aren’t they saying or emphasising less (cost, quality, speed, particular benefits or features, for example). How are they positioning themselves in the market? This research will give you a good idea of what you’re up against.

3. Create a messaging strategy

Now that you know your target market and your competition, it’s time to create a messaging strategy.

Your messaging should:

  • Address the needs of your target market
  • Differentiate you from your competition
  • Be clear and concise

Some things to keep in mind as you’re crafting your messaging strategy:

  • What are the benefits of your product or service?
  • What makes you unique? Often described as a USP (unique selling proposition), you’re trying to establish in the minds of your ideal client what problem you solve better than the competition. 
  • Why should your target market care about what you’re offering?

Answering these questions will help you develop a messaging strategy that resonates with your target market.

TIP: Choosing your growth strategy using the Ansoff Matrix

The Ansoff matrix is a strategic planning tool that provides businesses with a framework for making decisions about product and market development. The matrix was first proposed by Igor Ansoff in his 1957 article “Strategies for Diversification.” The Ansoff matrix helps businesses to identify and assess the risks associated with various growth options. The matrix has four quadrants: market penetration, product development, market development, and diversification.

Each quadrant represents a different growth strategy with different risks and potential rewards. 

  • Market penetration is the least risky growth strategy, as it involves selling existing products to existing markets.
  • Product development is slightly more risky, as it involves developing new products for existing markets.
  • Market development is more risky still, as it involves selling existing products to new markets. 
  • And diversification is the most risky growth strategy, as it involves developing new products for new markets.

The Ansoff matrix can help businesses to make informed decisions about which growth strategies to pursue. It is a valuable tool for managing risk and maximising growth potential.

4. Outline your distribution channels

Most novice marketers confuse marketing communications with ‘marketing’. Yet you only get this steps and do it successfully once you’ve created all the previous steps.

Assuming you have your messaging strategy in place, only now is it time to think about how you’re going to reach your target market. This brings us to the next step: outlining your distribution channels.

There are a number of ways to reach your target market. Some common distribution channels include:

  • Social media
  • Email marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Paid advertising
  • Event sponsorship

Think about where your target market spends their time online and consider which channels will be most effective for reaching them. Once you’ve identified your distribution channels, you can move on to the next step.

5. Set goals and marketing objectives

The next step in writing a marketing plan is to set goals and objectives. This will help you measure the success of your marketing efforts. When setting goals and objectives, be sure to make them SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

Some examples of SMART marketing goals and objectives include:

  • Increase website traffic by X% in the next six months
  • Generate X leads per month from our email marketing campaign
  • Achieve a Y% conversion rate from our paid advertising campaign

6. Establish a budget

Once you’ve set your goals and objectives, you’re almost ready to start executing your marketing plan. But first, there’s one more step: establishing a budget.

Your budget will depend on a number of factors, including the size of your target market, the channels you’re using to reach them, and the goals you’re trying to achieve. As a general rule of thumb, you should allocate about 3-5% of your revenue to a marketing budget (including salaries).

Now that you know how to write a marketing plan, it’s time to get started! Use the steps outlined in this blog post to create a plan that will help you achieve your marketing goals.

BONUS TIP: Stick to the vision, test the tactics

The importance of consistency in your marketing efforts cannot be overstated. Now you know how to write a marketing plan, it’s important to stick to your overarching objectives. This will help you measure the success of your marketing campaign and make necessary adjustments along the way.

Marketing is an ongoing process and it takes multiple touches to ‘warm up a market’ and win over their attention, understanding you and their trust, so be prepared to revise your plan as needed. And, most importantly, don’t be afraid to experiment. Trying new things is the best way to learn what works for your business. A marketing plan needn’t be a huge document that sits on a dusty shelf. It’s better if it’s a shorter, working document that you can refer back to regularly to track your progress along a timeline.

When it comes to marketing, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. But by following the steps outlined in this blog post, you’ll be well on your way to developing a marketing plan that works for your business.

Mark Britton

Mark Britton has over 20 years' senior leadership experience applying marketing strategies and software to grow small businesses.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}