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How to Develop a Marketing Plan for Your Business

April 14th, 2008

business-plan.jpgThis article by Cheryl Frost provides some useful steps for developing a marketing plan that can be used by small businesses. As with her previous article Preparing Your Small Business for the Market, most of the basic ideas here can be applied to marketing on the Internet as well as in the “brick-and-mortar” offline world.


A good marketing strategy includes a good plan. Many less successful businesses jump right into advertising and promotional efforts, accosting every media source from office cork boards to national newspapers. These businesses have not thought things through and waste a lot of time and money on hit or miss tactics. If you plan your marketing strategy carefully, you can focus on the best media source for your business and the best way to lure in customers.

The following steps will help you develop an effective marketing plan, ensuring a successful and profitable return on your marketing investment:

Set Objectives

Know what your business objectives are before you start. Set objectives that are obtainable and realistic to avoid frustration and failure. Your objectives will sculpt your business image with goals such as high quality, fast delivery, or friendly customer service. Place a measurement on your objectives — i.e., five new customers per month or no more than one percent of product returns. It is easy to state that you want fast delivery, but how will you know if you’ve accomplished that goal unless you preset how long delivery should take? Don’t set goals that are barely within your reach. Start small and raise the stakes after you get a feel for what works best for you.

Analyze your business plan

Take a look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of your business plan. Consider how you might strengthen the weaknesses and promote the strengths. Opportunities should be weighed for value and return; meanwhile, take note or confront any threats to the plan. Simulate a variety of scenarios, imagining the plan in effect for a long period of time. Try to determine how your plan will be received by potential customers.

Formulate a tactical plan

You also need to plan for how to follow through with your marketing efforts. Take everything you know must be done and plan out how it will be done and by whom. You might take on your own marketing plan or you may decide to hire a firm to help. If you become your own marketing agent, lay out the steps to set the plan to action.

Review the plan

Give your marketing plan a one year test period. After which, review the plan, comparing it to sales data and any other feedback you receive. Reviewing how the plan actually works will help in your efforts to improve it. When you review, you can see the actual strengths and weaknesses, giving you the data you need to either revise the plan for next year or scrap your plan and start anew.

Like the other elements of small business procedures, marketing requires planning. Developing a proper plan will make a dramatic difference in the prosperity and success of your company.



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