During the busy holiday season, many companies focus on Christmas sales or getting things cleaned up before the end of the year. In their haste, the next year’s marketing plan gets put on the back burner when actually, it should have been planned in November. Successful companies know that a well thought out marketing plan helps create, guide and coordinate their marketing efforts for the next year.
Think of a marketing plan as a road map which will help you set and realize goals while keeping you on course. The marketing plan is a crucial element of a business plan. It includes information about your company – its products or services, marketing objectives and strategies, and your method for measuring success. Typically, it outlines the marketing activities you’ll undertake during a designated time period (generally six months or one year). In it, you’ll document the costs of your planned marketing activities as well as the measurements to determine success.
Before you sit down to create your marketing plan, make sure you have a clear understanding of the following:
- your products or services and their benefits and features
- your target market and their buying habits
- competing products or services
- the problem, need or desire your product or service solves
Savvy business people know that marketing objectives should lead to sales. They should be distinct, measurable, and have a time period for accomplishment. If you have multiple objectives, ensure they are consistent and don’t conflict with each other. Also, be sure that all parts of your marketing plan – from strategy to budget – support these objectives.
If you don’t have your marketing plan done yet, get to it right away. It will make your life much easier and help your business.