How to make a marketing plan

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Marketing is the way in which you bring your product or service to the attention of your (potential) customers. With a well-thought-out marketing plan you reach new customers and realize your growth ambition.

You record your systematic approach to reach new customers in a marketing plan, also known as a marketing strategy. Stivan, marketing team leader, shares how to create a marketing plan for your company in 7 steps.

1. Make a SWOT analysis

If you haven't done a SWOT analysis during your market research , do it now. It gives direction to your marketing strategy. Use the conclusion of your SWOT analysis in the next steps. For example, to determine your objective (step 2), describe your target group (step 3), focus your distinctiveness (step 4) and choose your marketing mix (step 5).

2. Determine your marketing goals

What do you want to achieve? First, write down your dream for the long term. Writing down your dream gives you a purpose as a person, and inspires you. Are you in demand as a make-up artist and appear in a TV program? Or will you become a healthcare provider with the most satisfied customers?

Then write down your goal. That's what you want to achieve in the short term. Think of it as your first step towards achieving your dream. Keep in mind which phase of the purchase process your target group is in. Stiv. tips: "Make sure that what you want to achieve is measurable, such as turnover in euros, percentage of market share or number of new customers. Choose a time period between 3 months and 1 year for your goal. With the SMART method you set concrete and clear goals in your marketing plan."

3. Describe your target audience

Who is your customer? The better you know this, the better your marketing will perform. That's because you tailor everything to your customer. Think about who needs your product or service the most. Make your target group personal, even when you have companies as customers. You describe your target group as follows:

  • Describe demographic characteristics of your customer, such as gender, age, place of residence, education level or profession.
  • Map their social network, (media) interests, hobbies and purchasing behaviour.
  • Think about their daily activities and their worries.
  • Use your target audience knowledge in the following steps, in which you determine where, when and how you approach (potential) customers.

4. Create your brand

Determine how you want to be seen by your (potential) customers and competitors. If they know what you stand for, they connect with you more easily. It ensures recognition, and you distinguish yourself better from your competitors.

Research how you can distinguish yourself from your competitors. Check out your competitors' websites, request quotes or call them.

Then write down your findings in 1 sentence. For example: 'I want to be seen as a vegetarian butcher who makes the world a better place.' Or 'I want customers to see me as a company that is meaningful to society'.

Stiv. explains: "Your brand and the message you want to convey will later appear in your website or advertisements, for example. All the color, font, text and images you use are in line with your brand."

5. Choose your marketing mix

A marketing mix is ​​the combination of resources that you use to further flesh out your marketing plan. This consists of a number of P's, of which we will discuss the traditional 4 P's here: Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Under promotion you'll find an extensive description of online marketing channels and when you can best use them.

Product

What kind of product or service do you offer? Describe this and ask yourself what problem you're solving for your customer. Also state how your product or service differs from that of your competitor. Think of packaging, service, warranty conditions and appearance.

Price

What is your selling price or hourly rate and what do you base this on? Describe your entire pricing policy, including payment methods, payment terms and discounts.

Also include the competition in your research. Supply and demand for a certain product within a market influence the price you can ask for your product.

Place

Describe where customers can find your product or service. This doesn't always have to be where your business is located. Think of stores where your product can be obtained, a distributor or the internet. Your customer is looking for service and convenience. Ask yourself the question: 'how do I ensure that my customers can easily access my product or service?'

Make sure your location is appropriate for the type of business you have. Not only the village or the city itself, but also the location you choose for this. Such as a business park, outside the center, in the center or from home.

Promotion

Describe where you're going to promote your product, through which 'marketing channels' you want to reach your target group. Choose the channels on which your target group is active and that suit you and your company. Then also note how this channel contributes to your objectives of step 2. What result do you expect from a specific channel that makes your dream and goal a reality?

In addition to traditional media such as television, radio, magazine, bus shelters, advertising columns and newspaper, consider including the following online marketing channels in your marketing plan:

  • Search engines: Can customers find you in Google or another search engine? You can come up in the search results in 2 ways: paid and unpaid. Optimize your website to rank higher in a search engine for free. Or consider advertising in a search engine or using Google or Instagram Shopping. Almost every target audience uses search engines.
  • Social media: As a marketing channel, social media is characterized in that its users provide the content and there is interaction between users. This is ideally suited to start a conversation with your customer. You can also use social media paid and unpaid. You reach your own followers unpaid. You can reach new people through paid advertisements.
  • How do you know if your target audience is active on a social media channel? When you advertise, you enter demographics and interests of your target audience. You can immediately see whether your customer is active here.

    Stiv. emphasizes that online marketing through social media demands a lot from you. "Track, respond, advertise. Don't feel obligated to use social media because everyone else is doing it. Does it connect with your target group and do you enjoy doing it? Then choose a channel and go for it, don't do it halfway."

  • Email marketing: You can send news, offers or inspiration to your customers by email. Email marketing has the advantage that (potential) customers have already given you their email address. So you know they are interested. Pay attention to these 3 conditions when you send promotional e-mails. You mainly use this marketing tool for existing customers.
  • Influencer marketing: Influencers are role models with reach and authority. With influencer marketing you pay them to promote your service, product or company to their viewers or followers. Make sure that your target audience matches that of the influencer.
  • Affiliate marketing: A website (the publisher) promotes an advertiser's products through a hyperlink. As an advertiser, you pay when a visitor eventually makes a purchase. Think, for example, of a link in a blog to your webshop where the visitor purchases a book that he just read about in the blog. You can use affiliate marketing as a publisher or advertiser. You can reach any online target group with this.
  • Remarketing: This is a marketing tool with which you bring your visitor back to your website or webshop. With remarketing , you show visitors who leave your website a targeted advertisement on another website or on social media. This can be a text, image or video. This allows you to reach a target group that has already visited your website or webshop.
  • Content marketing: Do you like to write? Then you can start blogging on, for example, Medium for professionals and Reddit for the technical sector. You can share or inspire knowledge on these online platforms. Depending on your goal (step 2), this will generate brand awareness, leads or website visits. You reach a target group with specific interests.

6. Set your budget

Determine how much money you want to spend on marketing and over what period. Then you'll soon know whether your marketing yields enough to continue with it. In practice, there are 4 principles for calculating your budget. The first is preferable if you want to achieve your goals. These principles are:

  • Your marketing goals (step 2). What does it take to achieve these goals and how much budget do you need for this? Keep in mind that most of your budget is spent on advertising costs.
  • Your expected turnover. Reserve a percentage of this.
  • Your leftovers on your budget. See how much you have left over and allocate that to marketing.
  • Your competition. If you know how much your competitors spend on marketing, you can adjust your budget accordingly.

Stiv. tips: "In online marketing you never spend your entire budget in one go. Maybe you don't have the right target group or your message doesn't catch on. It's about experimenting, measuring and adjusting. For example, start with a budget of 50 euros per month for search engine advertising and a few tens for social media."

7. Make a plan

Finally, make a plan in which you write down when you'll use which advertisements, so that you achieve your marketing objectives (step 2). Also put the following appointments with yourself in your agenda:

  • See the results of your marketing activity on your marketing channels every month. These are the current promotions that you determined in step 5. Adjust if necessary.
  • Check every quarter (a quarter consists of 3 months) whether you're achieving the goals you determined in step 2. Now think about which statistics you're looking at to assess this. Send if necessary.

Stiv. estimates: "Online marketing takes time. Give yourself a week to devise your online marketing plan. Structurally, online marketing costs you at least 4 hours a week. After all, your website or social media profile is always on. During this time you update your website or social media profile, write texts, take photos, view the results and adjust your advertisements."

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