A marketing plan is as important as your business model once your business is up and running. You might have a stellar idea and product and your company might have all the funding in the world but all of that is worthless if you do not have customers. You need a marketing plan to win and keep customers. A great marketing plan will have all the tools and strategies to help you achieve your goals. So let us get straight to how to create the ultimate marketing plan for your start-up.
Perform Situation Analysis
You have to begin with a thorough analysis of the current situation your company is in. Understanding of your target market has to be clear and precise, as only that can lead to the correct positioning for your product. Properly understand and define your strengths and weaknesses and analyse your opportunities and threats. You will be able to get a sense of how you can capitalise on your product and the current market scenario.
Perform Competitor Analysis
While you need to understand the features of your product, it is sometimes even more important to know and understand what your competitors are offering. Only then can you differentiate your product and decide its positioning in the market. What is it that you are offering that no one else is? Describe your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Your product can be better in terms of pricing or quality. At the end of the day, what you are offering has to provide better value than your competition.
Define and Research your Target Audience
In today’s world, the needs and wants of target audiences are very specific. The segments can be sharply defined and thus researching your target audience is of utmost importance. Use primary research methods such as telephonic surveys, emails, personal interviews and focus groups to gather as much as information as possible about your target audience. There are tons of secondary data sources that can be used as well. Create buyer personas that show all aspects of your target audience.
List your Objectives
What is it that you want your company to achieve? Is it profits that you are after or is it mind-share? Can you sacrifice profits in the short run in order to register significant growth in the long run? Make a list of all your goals – short term and long term, and make them quantifiable so that at the end of the day, you can measure how well you have achieved them. Your goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound).
Fix your Budget
Fix a certain part of your revenue for marketing expenses. Marketing can be the lifeline for a new business and setting aside a decent chunk for different channels can be a wise move. Even if you are constrained by the budget, with so many different methods available today to reach your intended audience, adjusting your marketing tactics can do wonders for your start-up and that too well within your budget.
Position your Product
Although conventional wisdom says that positioning follows segmentation and targeting, many brands position themselves and their products long before they even decide who they want to sell to. Positioning is nothing but putting yourself in the minds of the consumer. If you want your product to stand out, you have to position your product well. Learn how to create a winning positioning strategy for your product or brand here.
Develop Marketing Strategy
When your marketing goals, budget, target audience and positioning are all decided, it is time to get your hands dirty and get to the essence of your marketing plan i.e. the methods and tactics you would use to reach your prospects and achieve your objectives, be it advertising, social media marketing, public relations etc. Since there are various stages of a sales cycle, there should be separate strategies to address all the stages, as the requirements differ at each stage. Fine-tune your strategy to reach your target audience most effectively i.e. when they are at their most receptive.
Test your Ideas
Just like your product, your marketing plan needs to be tested too before you decide to execute your strategy. If it works out well, then you roll it out else you can learn from it and improve it without spending your entire budget on a failed attempt. Keep what works, chuck what does not.
You should never forget you will win and keep customers only with the right marketing efforts and effective marketing starts with a well thought out marketing plan. Your marketing plan needs to be constantly tweaked and improved with time for you and your product to stay relevant. While most successful companies tend to stick to the plan, you must also constantly review what you have achieved and where you need more help, as nothing goes as smoothly in reality as planned initially.
The Startup Process
We know how important your dream business is to you. Therefore, we’ve come up with an all in one guide: The Startup Process to help you turn your vision into reality.