Steps to Developing a Marketing Plan & Creating an Effective Plan

If you want to increase sales, and you think that you are doing everything right, think for a moment whether you are doing the correct things. Do you really know your customers? That’s where your marketing plan comes into play.

Do you have any idea why customers buy your product or service? Or how competitive are you on the pricing front? Do you simply cut down your price by few percentages when your competitors do?

To take control over your situation, you need to have an effective marketing plan. For this, you don’t need high-end consultants; you can do it yourself. A marketing plan will show you the path that you need to follow to get where you want to be.

Even if you have a rough idea of what you need to do in your head, a formal marketing plan will show you how to connect with your customers and the concrete steps that you need to take to be successful in this area. When it comes to success, a marketing plan will help you get there even faster.

Below are 5 steps to creating an effective marketing plan that works!

1. Effectively Position Your Product

You need understand the difference between marketing and message channels. Promotions, advertising and public relations are various methods of communication, not marketing. Marketing is usually defined by the four P’s-

  • Product– Positioning your product correctly in the market.
  • Price– Pricing your product in a way that makes your customers feel that they are getting a good deal.
  • Promotion– Promoting your product through various channels to let your customers know about it.
  • Place– Distributing your products in a way that it becomes easily accessible to your target customers.

These steps can be used to compel your customers buy your products. The aim should not be to blindly increase your business’ sales volume, but to make a profit. To make sales in a manner that will boost profits, you need to have an effective strategy in place.

2. Tap Your Brains

This can be done by having brainstorming sessions with people you trust. These could be friends, families, staff, or even other professionals. Meetings can be formal or informal, but don’t expect 100% results in the first meet itself. You need to organize a series of these meetings to reap the benefits.

The questions that you should seek answers to are: Who is your target market? What are the needs of your customers? Where do you want the company to be in a year – or three years? You can either create notes, or tape these sessions. Everything should be on record, and then you can filter out the good ideas.

3. Listen to Your Customers

More often than not, your customers will be ready to talk to you, if you are ready to listen. Take surveys from your present as well as prospective customers to know what they expect, like and dislike about your company.

Accept honest feedback, and try implementing what you think will be profitable for your business in the future. Prepare a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis on the basis of what you learn form your customers. This will help you to develop a new approach for marketing purposes.

4. Draft a Plan

Once you have a general view of your customers and the market conditions, you should chalk out a plan for your company to move ahead. Though it is not absolutely necessary to have a formal document, it should be in writing. This document should cover all the aspects needed to move your business forward.

5. Tracking Results

Any plan, no matter how effective, requires effective execution. To ensure this, you need to track your results, and compare it with certain benchmarks to determine if you are on track. You need to have certain milestones to look back on your success, and chalk out strategies for the future.

When it comes to marketing, your small business needs a plan. If you have put it off because you didn’t know where to start, follow the tips above – and get started right now!

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