What to include in your marketing plan

Marketing plan is actually your how-to guide for your marketing, advertising and business development. This can be a few months or a few years depending on the purpose of the marketing plan and the company strategy so hang in there!

However you should be aware that not one universal marketing plan fits all businesses and all scenarios – Instead, I feel that the structure for any marketing plan for a business is based around the following planning elements:

Step 1 – The prospective target market or audience and the specific marketing objectives. In other words who your ideal customer is and what would you like to achieve – start as simple as that before you go into specifics of when, how often, where, how much etc.

Step 2 – The type and structure of your company will set the planning horizon as well as the marketing and business growth strategies and tactics.
For example, a small business requires a completely different set of tactics and approaches compared to a large global corporation that markets to customers in various market segments worldwide. The small business plan might be quite uncomplicated, specific and actionable in a few months because the small business is more flexible and adaptable whereas the large organization needs more time to change its marketing strategies because market development, product development, etc take months for bigger business. There is also the issue of internal communication i.e. the larger the organisation, the more the need for communication and “buy in.”

Step 3 – The market structure. You should carefully evaluate your key competitors and other stakeholders like vendors, legal, social influence…so that you have a clear picture of what you’re up against. Every market is full of “noise” so must know where to make yours and how loud!

The old adage of failing to plan mostly meaning planning to fail is very true when it comes to effective marketing.



Marketing planning and routes to market

Most small business owners know how important it is to have a business plan as a plan outlines your company’s course for success. However, one crucial element of that plan which is sometimes missing or hidden is the marketing strategy.

Marketing strategy can quite often be buried within the larger business plan and, as such, many small business owners may not give marketing the time, research and attention it deserves, assuming that they know their customer base and how to reach them. But an in-depth and detailed approach to laying out your marketing strategy can reveal opportunities from a new audience or potential product line, pitfalls in pricing, competition reaction, and potential reach.

In my previous post, I outlined 4 core tasks to consider when developing a marketing plan, but you need to figure out how you are going to reach that target customer. You need to identify a suspect, turn them into a prospect and then a client and quite often, your marketing strategy can just be to “sell” a meeting.

Anyway, aside from the 4 core tasks I touched on in June, there is also traditional print and broadcast media, but there are also two tech-driven marketing channels that many of today’s business owners utilise and hence, should be considered.

Social media
Social media has become an essential part of businesses’ marketing plans because every type of customer is on some type of platform, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and other networks. Small business owners can feel overwhelmed at the possibilities but should focus on the ones that can benefit them the most.
Brett Farmiloe, founder of internet marketing company Markitors, advised companies that are
just getting started in social media to get to know their customers and what platforms they are using.
“Figure out where your customers are spending their time, and set up shop on those platforms,” Farmiloe told Business News Daily. “Develop a content strategy that can be executed internally, [and then] execute your strategy by posting branded content on your selected platforms. While all three steps are key, the biggest one is really determining if your customers are on these platforms.”

Though email marketing may not be a new concept like social media marketing, it is an effective and popular choice for many small business owners. In fact, recent statistics show that 89% of millennial customers STILL prefer email as a communication route.
Companies can implement email-marketing techniques in a number of ways, including using newsletters, promotional campaigns and transactional emails. Companies such as MailChimp and Constant Contact make it easy for companies to manage their email campaigns.

With so many marketing routes to market, you’ll have to decipher the best ones to use via testing, but don’t discount anything until you’ve tried it and make sure that these routes are part of the larger marketing plan.

Internet facts for marketing

According to a recent Nielsen consumer survey:

  1. 86.3% of people indicated the Internet is now vital to their lifestyle
  2. 74% of people determine who to do business with locally using online computerised search engines such as Google and Yahoo
  3. 50% use Internet yellow pages to find new and existing products and services
  4. 65% still use printed yellow pages

The Internet is now the most popular way your existing and potential new customers use to find you. The survey also found:

  1. 67% prefer online yellow pages to traditional printed books
  2. 84% say using the Internet is a much faster way to find local businesses
  3. 63% say the business listings on the Internet are more current
  4. 86% had already used the Internet to find a local business
  5. 78% use the Internet more today than they did last year (Internet usage is still growing)
  6. 52% use the printed yellow pages LESS than they did two years ago
  7. Of those who indicated Internet use is vital, 90% had used the Internet to search for local businesses
  8. 80% of Internet users research their purchases online and 70% then buy within 20 minutes from home

Did you know that your existing clients and neighbours are using online directories instead of the yellow pages telephone book to look up phone numbers and find new businesses?

Get your business listed locally and reap the rewards!


How do you set about getting “leads?” How do you qualify them? How do you quantify them?
There is an equation that can help you in the decision process – Q x 2 – Qualify = ensure that they are in the target group to buy from you; Quantify = has their organisation the budget? i.e i the suspect a proper prospect?

If you are a new business then you might be able to draw up a lengthy and detailed list of companies you want to talk to. Constructing your “wish list” should be relatively simple in the early stages after all, you know your market, you read the local and trade press etc. But, remember the list can be long; 100 + names as a minimum so as to give yourself a broad target to aim for and to allow for the contacts who may well be unresponsive at the first attempt.

I don’t think it is possible to have too many leads. In my experience when working for News International and Miller Freeman, leads were aplenty. The stumbling block was actually having enough leads as your list will shrink!

So, consider purchasing a database. Many are available for sale, of variable quality. Then there are platforms like online and paper directories where you can research possible leads. Having said that, leads can come from anywhere. Networking, the press, sign boards, sponsorship of events and even job listings. The key thing is that you find out as much information as you can before you commence your marketing activity.

But what activity to undertake? Have a read of these other posts as they might help you decide……

When is it right to say no to new business?

I think it is fairly true to say that times are not exactly easy at the moment and that the process of attracting and subsequently winning new clients has probably never been tougher than it is in the current economic climate, but, I feel that there are times when a business should be strong enough to say no.

But….when it that time? When is it right (….or is it right) to say no to new business?

Well, I dont think there is a formula for taking this type of action, but I have just found myself in a position where I was approached by a great piece of potential business. The company in question wanted to launch a new business and required a logo and a website all done within a fairly short timescale so that he could attend a function where he had these marketing platforms in place.

All was going very well in the meeting as I was able to show the prospect examples of similar work already delivered for similar clients. However, when the conversation turned to money, the figure specified by the prospect was probably a third of what Bath Marketing Consultancy would normally charge…….and we are a very “cost effective” company compared to some marketing companies!

Having slept on things, I decided to politely decline the business. The reaction from the prospect was a little frosty and the words “well, I will go and talk to someone else” were used, but a month or so on, I know I made the right decision.

In a nutshell, there are plenty of organisations who “buy” business. These organisations seem to put very little value on their levels of experience, their service levels, their staff or even the end products or services they deliver relying heavily on their costing structure to acquire new business. I see this approach to marketing as one that can only totally devalue a brand. After all, what happens when someone else adopts that marketing strategy and simply undercuts you? I know that customers who are happy to pay a premium for service and the all round package another organisation offers are in decline, but if you do want to use costs as a motive for others to work with you, market this as a one off “sale” and put a time limit on it.

I saw a company on Twitter recently offering a similar package to Bath Marketing Consultancy’s “Marketing Tool Kit” (offer on until end of October 2012) at just over £500. I dont actually know how that is even possible not only sustainable!!

To me, cheap very often turns out to be very expensive and when it comes to your brand or your marketing message, you need to make sure prospects see the whole picture and really see the value in what you offer. In addition, I dont know anyone who would ask a service provider like a dentist to do a cheap job or a Solicitor to “bang out a will” would you??!!!!