Free Marketing Plan Template and Guide
So you have a business - or you are just setting things up - and everyone says you need a marketing plan.
You kinda think getting everything written down and into a useful structure sounds like a good idea.
So you google 'how to write a marketing plan' only to realise that results are filled with complicated analysis and reeds of paragraphs on fancy theories your brain has no interest in.
Don’t worry, this just means you’re normal.
Being in business is challenging enough without having to sift through theory.
Besides, things have changed.
Most investors aren't even interested in lengthy market dissections and old school marketing or business plans.
Marketing strategies for a small business don’t need pages and pages of arduous analysis.
What you need is a modern marketing plan.
Something that gets straight to the point of what’s really important in marketing - what will really make a difference in your business.
But before you get started.
A good marketer will teach business owners what will really make a difference is to focus your efforts on your marketing strategy and then the marketing plan.
The problem with most marketing plan templates is they skip from goals to tactics with no real strategy.
Unfortunately, people generally find it easier to outline their tactics than their strategy, so the most vital piece of the puzzle can be overlooked or put in the too-hard-basket.
So what’s the difference?
Your marketing strategy is not defined by time, it’s for the long haul. It’s what your business stands for, the problem you solve, what makes you truly unique and stand out, a particular market you may serve or the different benefits you offer over others.
Your marketing plan on the other hand is how you are going to communicate with your audience in a specific period e.g. 12 months. How you will reach your audience, what channels you will use, what content you will write and what special offers you will test.
If a Chiropractor wants to grow her clinic by building up her client base (goal). She decides to achieve this by being the most trusted physician in town (strategy).
She might trial many different tactics to support her strategy; hosting a health expo, sponsoring sporting events, running educational training for parents, running industry networking meetings, hosting community meetings in her clinic, using her Facebook and her own blog to offer value and information to her clients, sponsoring a health column in the local newspaper and so on.
It doesn’t matter if a couple of her tactics do little for her business when others do well, so long as she doesn’t do anything that will harm her strategy; to be the most trusted.
Because it’s the strategy that makes your tactics work, not the other way around.
It’s the strategy that helps you select the best tactics you could try.
It’s the strategy that helps you work out what to say in your marketing.
And it’s the right strategy that creates deeper and lasting connections with your customers.
Creating a great strategy is crucial for new and existing businesses...
If you have been in business for a while and you don’t have the momentum in the market that you desire even though you’ve tried a number of different tactics, changing your strategy will have a much bigger impact than changing your plan.
Having an average strategy in your marketing is likely to create an uphill battle no matter how good your plan is.
But if you are just starting a business then having a really good marketing strategy can be the difference to ensure your risk pays off.
So, strategy first. Then tactics. Together this makes a powerful marketing plan.
And one more thing….it’s the process that counts as much as the outcome.
Yes, once you’re finished you’ll have something to use as a compass, structure to keep you in check and a tool to inspire yourself and the people rallying around you.
But the process of going through each step, reflecting on each question, contemplating the answers and making decisions on how your business should look is a really empowering one.
A good marketing plan can also...
Let you know what’s missing, what marketing ‘gaps’ need filling and what conversations you still need to have with your customers
Get the creative juices flowing, you might come up with something brilliant in the process
Set your intention for the coming months and get you excited about your cause
Help sell your vision to staff (if you have any), supporters and investors
Help you reconnect with why you set out in your business in the first place
And because you can’t do everything, it helps you focus on the important areas you will put your budget and effort into
Enjoy the process of being creative with your business.