How to Develop a Marketing Plan


A sound marketing plan is vital to a business success, but it is also the aspect most commonly overlooked. Many new and established businesses limit their marketing strategy to a few paragraphs they penned as part of their business plan and trust that their website or a few local advertisements will bring in business.

Marketing plan formats can vary within product type and industry, but when writing your individual plan, you should take care to accomplish these essential goals. Here's your first marketing plan template

Sample Marketing Plan Template

Identify your target market
Defining your target market involves more than knowing that your plumbing supply business, for example, caters to homeowners. Take time to research the demographics (age, gender, geographic location, and household income) as well as the psychographics (buying habits, beliefs, and culture characteristics) of your customer base. Then establish numbers of potential customers in your service area based on those criteria. Demographic data is available through your county recorder or the US Census Bureau; psychographic information may require more intensive research. Knowing these figures will not only help you project your sales goals, but it can also tell you if your market segment is too broadly or narrowly focused for success.

Establish objectives
What do you hope to accomplish through your marketing? Be specific. “Increase sales” is too general to be helpful, but “Increase sales by 10% by the end of Q2” is both specific and measurable.

Define strategies
These are the methods that you will use to accomplish your objectives. A strategy can be a broad overview, such as “Utilize social media” or “Implement e-mail campaign.” There are dozens of different strategies that can be employed for any given goal, so it may take some time and research to determine those that will help you accomplish your objectives.

List your tactics
Tactics will be the specific methods within your strategy that will help you accomplish your goals. Working from the social media strategy already mentioned, you might list “Offer exclusive coupons via Facebook and Twitter.” This type of tactic is ideal in that it not only has the potential to increase business, but by offering different coupon codes for each venue, you will be able to measure the success of the tactic via each individual channel.

Establish metrics
In order to determine if your objective has been met, you will need to establish a benchmark for tracking your success. This can be the number of new Facebook friends, the response rate of your direct mail campaign, or the number or dollar amount of sales from new customers. These should directly relate to your objective, though it is helpful to have secondary metrics as well. If your main goal was to increase sales by a specific amount, and you didn’t meet those goals, you may want to know how many potential customers contacted you with inquiries. This would tell you that your strategy was successful in producing leads, but you need to implement additional tactics in order to convert those leads to sales.

Project return on investment and break-even point
Before you implement any strategy or tactic, it is important to calculate the cost of a campaign and the income that is required to break even. When possible, you will want to use figures that relate to the metrics you established above. If you find that your target market will not support the sales you need to reach your break-even point, you may want to revise your campaign plans. In some cases, however, the cost of a campaign should be considered in terms of the lifetime value of a new customer or potential exposure in a difficult market segment.

There are, of course, other areas to consider in your marketing strategy, and your basic campaign structure can be expanded as your customer base and budget grows. By including these essential elements in your plan, you can be assured that all your marketing activities are deliberate and focused with the end goal in mind.

You may want to read about marketing budget

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