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How to create the foundation for a great “marketing plan” (4 questions)

Many business owners and marketers find it challenging to write a marketing plan because they think they have to outline every possible scenario and every step imaginable. This is not true; a marketing plan doesn’t have to be extensive or address every likely situation. In fact, the longer the marketing plan is, the harder it is to get everyone to buy into it.

With that in mind, if you answer these four questions thoughtfully, you will have a solid foundation for a great marketing plan.

1. Where is your business/organization right now?

All marketing plans start with an honest look at your current business, competitors, and your market position. Thinking about your current situation and writing it down will establish an important baseline.

Key areas to think about:

  • Revenue
  • Segmentation
  • Customer information
  • Positioning
  • Market share (% of a market controlled by your business)
  • Competition
  • Competitive matrix (portrait of your competitive landscape and your position in the marketplace)

Also, this is an excellent time to perform a SWOT analysis on your competition (look into Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats).

2. Where do you want your business/organization to be?

Different businesses have different goals, so there is no right answer. However, good goal setting practices apply to all types of goals. Make sure your goals are ambitious and SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound).

Key areas to think about:

  • Goals (short and long-term)
  • Financial (e.g. revenue goals)
  • High-level strategy to achieve these goals
  • Branding
  • Positioning (e.g. reposition yourself as a premium offering)

3. How do you get there?

Coming up with goals is the easy part, but thinking about tactics (how you will achieve those goals) and then successfully implementing them is difficult. You don’t have to get all your tactics right, because a marketing plan is a living (not static) document. Whenever conditions in the market change, you will likely have to update your marketing tactics as well.

Key areas to think about:

  • Value Proposition
  • Segmentation
  • Targeting
  • Digital Marketing channels (website, social, ads, search, etc.)
  • Pricing (product or service)
  • Promotions
  • Timeline & Milestones
  • Financials (budget & forecasts)
  • Resources (who is responsible)
  • Marketing Automation Tools

4. How will you measure your progress?

All marketing efforts have to be tracked and measured. How else will you know if your marketing investment is paying off and creating enough value?

In simple terms, value = benefits (business benefits created by marketing) – cost (marketing investment).

Key areas to think about:

  • KPIs (key performance indicators)
  • Milestones (typically quarterly)
  • Data & Analytics

In summary, don’t focus on the marketing plan structure and how many pages it may be. Try to answer these four questions instead, and you will naturally create a strong foundation for a great marketing plan.

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