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Bullet-Proof Marketing Plan Template for Small Businesses

A marketing plan is the “how” of achieving your marketing strategy.

Without a well-thought-out plan you can’t achieve the goals you developed as part of your marketing strategy.

And by the way, if you don’t have a marketing strategy yet, we have a blog for this. It’s called 5 Steps to Building a Marketing Strategy Template for Successful Businesses.

Once you have your marketing strategy, you need a plan to implement it.

If you unsure where to start, this article walks you through the key elements of a marketing plan template that you can use for your business over and over again.

Start by Developing Your Marketing Mix.

Your marketing mix refers to the elements you’ll use to show prospects why your product or service is different and better than your competitors.

The marketing mix consists of the 4 Ps:

  • Product: Whether you’re selling antiques or acupuncture services, it’s important that you have a clear understanding of exactly what your product is and what makes it unique. For example, each product at your antique store could include an informative pamphlet, describing the history of that specific product.
  • Place/Positioning: This is the location of your business, and where else your products and services might be found. Think about the different ways you want to enable customers to get hold of your product; from other retailers or exclusively from your shop?
  • Price: How much will you charge customers for your product or service? For example, if you want your business to be known as the chosen brand in your industry, having too low a price might make your product seem cheap and thus perceived as inferior quality.
  • Promotion: Here you are telling prospects about your products and why they should buy it. This step includes elements like advertising, social media, public relations, video marketing and more.

For example, adventure site, Go Outdoors, is a one-stop-shop for all your activity needs. They are constantly communicating their promotions and price reductions on their website.

go outdoors

Image Source: www.gooutdoors.co.uk

If you’d like more information on how you should use these 4Ps in your marketing strategy, then read our article.

Now, let’s move on to the “what” and “how” of your marketing plan.

Get Your External Marketing Communication Going

External marketing communication is the process of delivering targeted messages to your customers and prospects at the appropriate time.

There are predominantly two ways you can communicate your message to your target market:

1. Online: It’s important that you match your marketing message with your buyer’s journey. You’ll need to create a marketing funnel. This is when you map out a customer’s journey from when they are a complete stranger to when they become a lead. You can then communicate with them at each touch point to encourage them to move through this funnel.

2. Offline, preferably via word-of-mouth marketing. This lets your customers do the marketing for you and is pivotal to your ongoing business success. People start talking, telling other people and the word spreads. Nothing can replace word-of-mouth marketing and the powerful effect it has on your business.

You can ignite this initial chain reaction and keep the fire burning by:

  • Telling everyone you know. The first marketing step is to tell all your friends and family about your new business and the type of products available.
  • If you’re providing a service, call every tradesman and retailer you know and tell them what type of business you are available for.
  • Run contests to encourage people to tell their friends about you.
  • Offer an amazing service that keeps your customers coming back.
  • Ask your customers for help. Be real and explain what you’re trying to do, transparency is key.

It’s not about choosing one approach over the other but rather applying both.

Develop Your Marketing Message

Don’t try to tell your customers everything about your product or service.

Narrow your message and be specific so customers will receive one important message.

Your first step will be to identify your target market’s problems. Then you need to present your product or service as the solution.

This step is important because most people won’t take action if the solution seems too complex or unlikely.

For example, if you own an antiques business, and you know customers are wary of fakes, making them uncertain about their purchasing decision, your message might look something like this:

Authentic Antiques: Even experts get duped – avoid fakes and get peace of mind when you purchase from us. Each unique piece comes with its own confirmation of authenticity.

The Problem: Potential customers aren’t completing their purchase, because they don’t trust you.

The Solution: Demonstrate trust by providing tangible proof; a certificate of authenticity.

Wiggle.co.uk provides customers with a clothing comparison chart, solving their problem of indecision by helping them make an informed decision.

the solution

Image Source: www.wiggle.co.uk

Pick Your Marketing Channels

If you don’t have a large budget and you’re trying to market your products, don’t worry.

Plenty of companies have succeeded in the past without spending massive amounts of money on marketing. Here are some ways you can do marketing for almost free.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is a great way to get new customers to engage with your business, as well as maintain relationships with existing customers.

It’s extremely cost effective and one of the most powerful marketing tools available to a small businesses. This is because it provides predictable results and costs little or nothing to use.

Email marketing is still one of the quickest and most direct ways of communicating.

Remember to continually collect contact information to grow your database and follow-up on a regular basis. The kinds of emails that get the best response include:

  • Emails that educate.
  • Emails that share content offers.
  • Emails that help people improve themselves or their circumstances.
  • Emails that ask questions which prompt responses.
  • Emails that promote an event, promotion or sale.
  • Email that are personal and address individual needs.

BuzzFeed uses awesomely written subject lines and preview text to support their marketing efforts. They are always short and punchy. For example, if the subject line is a question, the preview text is the answer. Or if the subject line is a command (Get up! Get up Now!), the preview text seems like the next logical thought right after it.

buzz feed

Image Source: Pinterest.com

Content Marketing

Content marketing is a low-cost marketing solution for effectively explaining products or services in an interesting way.

The more valuable content you give away the more deals you’ll close.

If you want to increase your conversions, then start captivating your target audience by providing them with the information they’re seeking.

  • Start a blog and blog regularly. Blogging will help your business stay top of mind by putting out regular content. Host the blog on your domain name and write good content, making sure to respond to each blog comment.
  • Commenting on blogs is a great way to get your brand some needed exposure. For this to work, you have to leave comments on blogs that are related to your website, and the comments you leave has to be insightful.
  • Write beginner’s guides to help build credibility. Guides are detailed and fairly long pieces of content. Guides can be helpful when harvesting email addresses: “I’ll give you this awesome beginner guide when you register your email address”.

Fine+Rare uses their blog to educate prospects and customers on fine wine.

fine_rare

Image Source: blog.frw.co.uk

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing tools and techniques provide business owners the best chance for beating the competition and increase business growth.

Digital marketing is the promotion of products or brands via one or more forms of electronic media.

  • Apply online for business awards: This is a cost-effective way to garner some good PR for your products and services. It also validates who you are as a brand, as well as adding credibility to your business.
  • Google Local should be used to claim the location of your offices so that when customers are searching for your business online, they can immediately see where you reside. This gives them peace of mind, knowing you are a “real company”.
  • For a relatively small fee you can use digital ads to help you more effectively target potential customers.
  • Reviews: Considering many people read online reviews before trying a product or service, it makes sense for you to set up a free account on directory sites such as Yelp and Citysearch.

Video Marketing

Using video, especially “how to” videos, will help engage visitors for a longer period of time, allowing your brand message to sink in. Take a look at our blog telling you all about Video Marketing.

Video is very searchable and shareable, increasing the likelihood of your website content being found, and shared.

How to use video in your marketing plan:

  • Use video tutorials to show how your product and/or service adds value.
  • Put videos on your product page to demonstrate how your product works.
  • Use video customer testimonials to increase trustworthiness.
  • Add a call-to-action on your video.
  • Add your video to YouTube and optimise it for search engine optimisation.

Leverage Social Networks

Besides having a website, you should use popular social networking sites to distribute your message and create brand awareness.

Twitter and Facebook are invaluable for describing existing products, introducing new products, offering promotions and announcing sales.

Focus your efforts on networks that hold the key to your target audience and objectives. Read our ‘5 Steps to Building a Social Media Strategy’ for a more in-depth information.

junipe

Juniper, a UK-based training business, utilises the power of Facebook and digital marketing to spread their marketing message. In the screenshot above you can clearly see their location, immediately establishing credibility with possible customers.

Measure Your Marketing Plan Success Using Analytics

Finally, make sure that the plan you’ve built using the marketing plan template actually works.

By using the data gathered from the marketing channels above, you can gain deeper understanding into your customers’ behaviour and tailor make marketing messages to suit their wants and needs.

This will also assist you in positioning your products and services to sell.

4 Google Analytics Reports You Should be Using

Google Analytics is a great source of customer data.

There are four categories of reports you need to constantly review – each one is the key to understanding certain insights that impact the performance of the message you’re trying to promote:

  • Audience reports: Understand who your audience members are, what their interests are, and how they interact with the marketing messages you publish.
  • Acquisition reports: Glean insights on the search terms visitors are using. This will help you discover their pain points, and the specific solutions you can provide.
  • Behavior reports: Evaluate the actions of your site visitors, uncovering ways to improve their user experience, and optimise the engagement potential of your marketing efforts.
  • Conversion reports: Determine if your messages are helping your business achieve its marketing goals, and discover which messages are achieving the best results.

google analytics

Tah-Dah! Here’s Your Marketing Plan Template

marketing template

Conclusion

This marketing plan template will help your customers understand why your product or service is better and how you can uniquely solve their problem for them.

If your first attempt at a marketing plan doesn’t turn out great, don’t get discouraged. Go back to our marketing templates and determine what you can do better.

We want to hear from you. Tell us what you thought by leaving a comment below.

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