Let’s be honest:
When it comes to marketing plans, many small business owners tend to wing it.
Who has the time to put together a 20-page marketing plan that no one is ever going to read?
Yet, a marketing plan is your guide to successfully promoting and growing your business.
A good marketing plan will help you answer key questions about your business, such as:
- How will you position your business in the marketplace?
- How will you differentiate from your competitors?
- How will you reach your customers?
- What are your sales goals?
- Where will you advertise?
All of these are important questions that, as a business owner and entrepreneur, you need to be able to answer.
Beyond that, however, a good marketing plan can help you to ensure that you’re using your resources most effectively.
This is especially important for your internet marketing, given that you probably don’t have too many resources to expend.
Rather than just jumping into social media or starting a blog, a marketing plan helps you to make sure that your digital marketing aligns with and helps to achieve your business goals. And in the end, isn’t that what you want?
The Parts of a Marketing Plan
A traditional marketing plan includes several key elements, such as:
- Situation Analysis: The situation analysis will provide an overview of your product or service and its place in the market. What is the target market that you’ll be reaching out to? What are the trends in your industry? What other competitors offer a similar product or service? How will you be different?
- Target Market: What age group will you be targeting – millenials, Xers, or Boomers? Will your product or service appeal more to men or women, single or married? The list goes on about the things that you could learn about your customers, but the important point is this: the more that you know about them, the better you’ll be able to connect with them in a way that will be meaningful to them.
- Marketing Strategy: The marketing strategy addresses the 4 P’s of marketing: product, price, promotion, and place. Basically, what is your service and how is it different, how will you price it, how will you promote it, and where will you sell it?
- Objectives & Tactics: Once you’ve identified your strategy, you need to figure out how to implement it. You can set objectives to meet and identify the tactics that you will use to meet those objectives.
- Sales and Budget: Your marketing plan can also include a sales forecast and an advertising budget. The sales projections will outline your sales targets on a monthly basis. Your budget will specify how much you will spend and when. The combination of sales and budget will allow you to be aware of how much you are spending on marketing and how much revenue you’re generating as a result.
Developing Your Strategic Marketing Plan for SEO
Those are the elements of a traditional marketing plan.
A plan for marketing your business online with SEO will be somewhat similar, but with a few key differences.
Like a traditional marketing plan, a marketing plan for SEO will include several key components such as:
- Niche and Ideal Client Identification: The days when you could be all things to all people are long gone. With all of the competition online, you need to clearly both identify your niche and your ideal client.
- Messaging: What is the message that you want to convey to your clients? You only have seconds to get their attention online, so you need to make sure that you’re clear about your message so that you can integrate it into all of your digital marketing activities.
- Content: Rather than just posting updates about whatever has your attention at the moment or putting content on your website that may or may not help your business goals, having a clear plan for your content is a must so that you can satisfy both users and the search engines.
- Links: However, having good content by itself is not enough. You need to actively promote it so that you can get links back to your site. The combination of links and content is the foundation of SEO best practices.
- Metrics: How will you measure success? This can commonly be done through Google Analytics, especially for your SEO.
Benefits of Creating a Marketing Plan
With a good marketing action plan, you’ll benefit from knowing that it is aligned with your business goals.
You’ll have done the work of identifying your target market and refining your message. You’ll have set clear goals and identified the SEO practices that you need to implement. You’ll also have chosen the appropriate metrics to help you track your progress.
In short, rather than just engaging in marketing activity that lacks focus, you’ll be working strategically.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of preparing a marketing plan, though, isn’t just the finished plan.
Through the planning process, you will also have engaged in a valuable process of thinking through important questions related to your business. This will serve you well as you navigate the daily challenges of running a business.