When planning a road trip, what’s the first thing you do? You consult a map. Similarly, before embarking on any marketing initiative, you should create a marketing plan — your virtual “road map.”
But how do you create a small business marketing plan, and is having one really all that important?
Business Plan Objectives
Before you start crafting a marketing plan, you need a basic business plan. This serves as the foundation of your business; the bread and butter of your success. In order to create a business plan, you first need business plan objectives.
What are business objectives?
Close your eyes and picture your business one year from now or five, ten years from now. Where do you want to be? How big do you want your business to be? How much revenue do you want to be bringing in? Or, do you want to be lying on a beach somewhere, already having cashed out your business?
Write your business objectives down, then consider what finances need to be available in order to achieve those objectives. Parse those long-term business goals into monthly or even weekly objectives. Be realistic, and don’t get carried away with your ambitions. Make it possible to accomplish your objectives with hard work. Try to tilt your business objectives towards things actually within your control.
These objectives should be quantifiable — for example, your objective could be to sell 10 units of your product each week. You can then increase that number to 15 after say, a month. You see the picture.
Ultimately, remember: don’t be afraid to start small. Realistic business objectives that you can actually meet are far better than lofty ones that never get achieved.
Marketing Plan Objectives
To better understand how to craft a marketing plan, you should know its elements. A marketing plan consists of several key pieces of information that can be divided into sections based on your preference. If you’re not sure where to begin, you can always talk to your marketing partner to get some ideas.
As you create your marketing plan, keep in mind the following steps:
Conduct a situational (or SWOT) analysis.
A situational analysis is simply a snapshot of your company’s current situation. List your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (also known as a SWOT analysis).
When trying to determine your strengths, ask yourself what your company’s competitive advantage is. In what ways is your product notable or superior to other products? Do you have access to a more or less untapped market? Are your customers particularly loyal? Is your customer service exemplary? Use a similar process to analyze your weaknesses, and be honest with yourself. Opportunities are self-evident; what potentials can you positively exploit in the future?
Define your target audience.
It’s absolutely key that you identify your target audience. If you don’t have your target audience outlined already, you can start with a little guesswork based on your current customers. Then, back up your hypothesis with data from various sources like Google Analytics, your social media sites, and more. You’ll want to have a clearly defined picture of your target audience, including their interests, demographic information (age, sex, location, etc.), lifestyle (healthy, sedentary, etc.), and more. Once you determine your target audience, you can figure out the best channels for your marketing in order to reach your ideal customer.
Outline your marketing strategies.
Which marketing methods and outlets will you use to promote your products or services? Are you going to be using social media networks? If so, which ones? If you’re using Facebook or Twitter, will you also be using paid advertisements? Consider other forms of marketing you may not have considered: print advertising, promotion via influencers and bloggers, event sponsorships, etc.
Set a budget.
Every successful business has to have a marketing budget. You should dedicate a percentage of your projected gross sales to your monthly or annual marketing budget. If you’re a small business or just starting out, this may mean paying out of pocket or borrowing at first, but it’s well worth it.
Remember: marketing is absolutely essential to the success of your business. Don’t think that marketing is out of your budget — with so many different marketing tactics available, including digital marketing, you can find a mix of strategies to appease even the tightest budget.
What Are Marketing Objectives?
A marketing plan is not just a document piecing together various bits of information. Your marketing plan will be useless unless you set time-marked objectives. Marketing objectives are short-term achievements to help you achieve longer-term goals. They should be set on a weekly or monthly timeline. These objectives help a business set out what a business wants to achieve from its marketing strategy.
How do you come up with good marketing objectives? An effective marketing objective meets the SMART criteria. SMART is a common business acronym.
What is SMART?
- Specific: This should detail exactly what needs to be done. It should be concise and to the point.
- Measurable: Your objective needs to be quantifiable. That is, you need to have some method of checking your success.
- Achievable: You need to set reasonable objectives. There’s no point in setting objectives you cannot meet.
- Realistic: Do you have the proper resources and staff to achieve the objectives you have set? You have to be honest with yourself when you’re creating your goals — or they might not be achievable.
- Time Specific: You need to define a timeline. Each objective should have a deadline.
What Are Marketing Goals?
Marketing goals are not the same as marketing objectives. Marketing goals can be long or short term and are larger achievements to be had by succeeding with your objectives. Marketing goals should fit in with your company’s financial objectives, which can be expressed as:
- Sales dollars.
- Units sold.
- Market share.
- ROI on advertising expenditures.
- Sales conversion rates.
Remember: marketing goals are long-term achievements. Objectives are the smaller steps within marketing goals. How do you set marketing goals? It’s about dreaming realistically. Consider what you can achieve, how motivated you are, and what resources you have at your disposal. Motivation and capability are key to setting realistic, achievable goals and turning your small business idea into small business success.
Need some help creating your marketing strategy and identifying the right marketing objectives and goals? We can help! Reach out to one of our marketing experts today.