By Amanda Purser
A business needs a marketing plan just as much as it needs a business plan. A marketing plan helps your company understand the how and why of bringing in leads, building brand awareness and becoming seen as the best in your field. Developing these plans can be daunting to a company that doesn’t employ a person with a marketing background.
To make the process smooth, here are four sections that should be included in every successful marketing plan:
1. Your Unique Selling Point (USP). Start here, because this should be the easiest to write about. What sets your business apart? What makes it different from your competitors? Your first thought may be that you’re local and have been in business for decades. But can you also say the same about your competitors? If so, then it’s not unique.
2. Competitive Analysis
Who are your biggest competitors? What are their USPs? What sets them apart and what do you feel would make a customer choose them over you? Take some time to research the competition. Look at their services or products, website, social media platforms, advertising or marketing. This is not so that you can copy them; it is so that you can gain a better understanding of your industry and who your customers see.
3. SWOT Analysis
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. After the first two sections, you should have a pretty clear understanding of these. It might help to draw a 2 × 2 table to fill as you go.
Strengths and weaknesses are representative of internal factors such as personnel, product, service, communication and price. Strengths are the characteristics of your business that give you an edge; weaknesses are the factors that give you a disadvantage.
Opportunities and threats are the external factors. Examples of external factors are the economy, technology, legislation, competition and socio-cultural changes. Acknowledging these is vital. Many businesses discount the effect or control of external factors and take a laissez faire attitude toward them (“We can’t change the economy, so why worry about it?”). This could prove detrimental.
Opportunities are those factors that your business can exploit to its advantage; threats are those that could cause harm or trouble to you.
4. Ideas & Recommendations
Using all of the information gathered up to this point, there might be some glaring ideas and recommendations to implement. Dive into the information you’ve compiled. Get together with your team and spend some time looking at the facts to develop ideas for marketing, advertising and even adding or deleting services or aspects of your business.
If all of this is still overwhelming, call us to help put together your marketing plan. Our team determines who you are—and your challenges—and then uses our experience and expertise to develop recommendations. Visit www.liquidcreativestudio.com to look at some examples.
Amanda Purser studies English and public health at the University of North Florida. She is a copywriter for Liquid Creative Studio and a freelance writer focusing on management, customer service and fitness. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.