How to write a marketing plan - the absolute basics

Writing a marketing plan - the absolute basicsWriting and developing a marketing campaign can feel pretty scary if it's something you've never done before. But it needn't be, and just to prove it I've put together 5 steps to write a brilliant marketing plan. 1) What are you selling? It sounds obvious, but it's amazing how many marketing plans fall at the first hurdle by failing to define what they're trying to sell. Tempted to mention all of your services, in a mission to get the biggest bang for your buck? Don't do it - it will dilute your message and confuse your audience. Stick to one product at a time, and focus all of your energy on making it sound amazing.

2) Work out the segment of the market you want to talk to. Profile your target demographic: gender, age, geographical location, earnings, lifestyle, purchasing patterns... be as precise as you can. Think about your ideal customer - what are they like? What values do they hold dear? What does their family composition look like? Create a persona of your ideal customer and target everything very firmly at them - you'll get much better results for doing so.

3) Create a strategy. Spell out your commercial objectives - what is it that you're trying to achieve? Try to create measurable goals (for example, to sell xxx units of stock, or win xxx new projects) to create a benchmark for you to judge whether your campaign was successful. Find out what your target customers read, what they listen to and what influences them. Decide how often you need to expose customers to your message (and can afford to), remembering that repetition is key.

4) Commit to a realistic budget. There's no two ways about it: marketing costs money. That said, if you make the right choices, marketing should be an investment rather than a cost. After all, you're doing this to win more business, aren't you? I recommend working with your accountant to find a workable budget, and allocate funds each month to ensure there's always cash in the kitty to cover costs.

5) Decide upon the appropriate media. By now, you'll know exactly who your target market are, so let them (and your budget) determine the media you use to get your message out there. There are oodles of ways to reach your customers - consider traditional direct mail campaigns, magazine advertising, social media, blogs, radio, TV, events... the possibilities are as large as your imagination. Target your marketing as narrowly as possible to the platforms that will reach your best customers, and spend your money in that direction.

And finally - go put it into action! If your first campaign didn't get you the results you were after, don't be disheartened - garner all the feedback you can and adjust things for next time. Above all, have fun!