Step 1: Begin with a snapshot of your company’s current situation, called a “situation analysis”
This first section defines your company and its products or services, then shows how the benefits you provide set you apart from your competition. AKA Business Plan.
Step 2: Describe your target audience
Developing a simple, one-paragraph profile of your prospective customer is your next step. You can describe prospects in terms of demographics—age, sex, family composition, earnings and geographic location—as well as lifestyle.
Step 3: List your marketing goals
What do you want your marketing plan to achieve? For example, are you hoping for a 20 percent increase in sales of your product per quarter? Write down a short list of goals—and make them measurable so that you’ll know when you’ve achieved them.
Step 4: Develop the marketing communications strategies and tactics you’ll use
A good marketing program targets prospects at all stages of your sales cycle. Some marketing tactics, such as many forms of advertising, public relations and direct marketing, are great for reaching cold prospects. Warm prospects—those who've previously been exposed to your marketing message and perhaps even met you personally—will respond best to permission-based email, loyalty programs and customer appreciation events, among others. Your hottest prospects are individuals who’ve been exposed to your sales and marketing messages and are ready to close a sale. Generally, interpersonal sales contact (whether in person, by phone, or email) combined with marketing adds the final heat necessary to close sales.
Step 5: Set your marketing budget
You’ll need to devote a percentage of projected gross sales to your annual marketing budget. Of course, when starting a business, this may mean using newly acquired funding, borrowing or self-financing. Just bear this in mind—marketing is absolutely essential to the success of your business. And with so many different kinds of tactics available for reaching out to every conceivable audience niche, there’s a mix to fit even the tightest budget.