If you are launching a small business, you might not realise that a marketing plan is necessary, but it can help you build a strong and efficient marketing strategy. When you are keen to channel all available funds into growing your business, you don’t want to waste money on an expensive and ineffective marketing campaigns.
A marketing plan outlines the various ways you intend to promote your products and services. When you write the plan down along with cost estimates and a time-frame for results, so you can see how your target audience responds to different strategies and whether the strategy’s cost is returned by customer response. You can periodically decide how to modify or improve your plan as your business develops and you see how your target audience responds to various approaches.
CREATING YOUR MARKETING PLAN
You begin your marketing plan by defining your target market: who wants your product/ service and where does this target audience seek information or inspiration? If you are opening a new restaurant, your target audience is the local community; if you are selling spices over the Internet, your target audience would consist of chefs and food suppliers anywhere in Australia.
Next you want to ask yourself: who are your competition, and how does your product/service differentiate from theirs? Perhaps you are opening the only Moroccan restaurant in the district; or perhaps your spice blends are unique and accompanied by original recipes. Once you’ve identified your target audience, and established how to communicate with them, the next step is to write a list of goals and objectives.
So what is the difference between a goal and an objective? A goal is a general explanation of what you want to achieve; an objective is more specific and measurable. For example, your goal might be to build a customer base; this could lead to an objective to increase your customer base by 10%.
CREATING AN ACTION PLAN
Your marketing plan is simply a daydream unless you consolidate it with an action plan to achieve your goals and objectives. Look at each objective and ask yourself: how? What do you need to do to achieve this objective? How do you measure the success of your action? You can create your action plan by drawing up a simple chart with the following headings:
Action Timeframe Budget Issues Results
Your action could be a Facebook promotional campaign or an advertisement in the local newspaper. There would be a significant difference in budget between these two actions, so you need to be able to gather results to judge their effectiveness. The simplest way to gather results is to ask customers where they heard about your product/ service. If nobody is responding the newspaper ad then it is not profitable, so you could try another strategy, such as advertising in a local magazine or doing a letterbox drop.
For a marketing campaign to be successful, it must be profitable. An expensive print ad that draws a dozen customers is only profitable if these customers spend more than the ad was cost. Your time is also valuable, so if you are spending a great deal of time chasing new customers, you might want to consider a campaign that concentrates on encouraging existing customers to return.
If you are not sure how to tailor a business plan to your business, try seeking advice from experienced professionals. Silver Chef, the first and only hospitality funding business in Australia and New Zealand, has created the “ultimate guide to successfully starting the business of your dreams” entitled Starting a Restaurant for Dummies. The book covers all you need to know about running your hospitality business, from writing a business plan to composing a menu.