5 Simple Steps to Build a Successful Marketing Plan

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” These are the wise words of Benjamin Franklin – writer, philosopher, scientist, politician, patriot, Founding Father, inventor and publisher. If you can’t trust a man who provided seventeen years of unprecedented wisdom to the colonies – the same man who discovered electricity – then who can you trust?

Plan to Succeed with a Marketing Plan

The Benjamin Franklin of modern marketing would embrace many roles to manage entire campaigns: marketing specialist, technologist, data analyst and more. You may already have a “jack of all trades” on your marketing team but these marketing professionals tend to be masters of none. Most marketing teams benefit tremendously from a strategic marketing plan, so let’s take a page from Ben Franklin’s book and plan to succeed in marketing.

A Glimpse into the Marketing Plan

Marketing plans can range from hundreds of pages to half a dozen sheets, depending on the size of the company and, of course, the size of its ambitions. The typical marketing plan covers one full year and keeps tabs on sales, marketing and performance on a quarterly or monthly basis. Marketing plans typically kick off with the first of the year or at the start of the fiscal year, a decision that falls on the marketing team.

Building a marketing plan from scratch is no easy task. The marketing industry is a moving target – things change, people leave, markets evolve and customers come and go. Most marketers adapt to the changing environment by focusing on the short term. Marketing plans rarely glimpse further than a year into the future.

Build a Plan in 5 Simple Steps

At Linx, we build marketing plans in five simple steps: position, brainstorm, listen, draft and track. A closer look at each phase in the marketing plan development process will set you up for success in the marketing world.

Step 1: Position

The marketing plan was designed to generate the interest and recognition that leads to the sales that boost profits. Every successful marketing plan incorporates one main goal: put the right product or service at the right price in front of the right customer. Always begin the marketing plan with the 4 P’s of marketing: product, price, promotion and place.

Step 2: Brainstorm

Never underestimate the value of brainstorming to define the appropriate marketing for your company. Meet with advisors you trust – formally or informally – including family, friends, staff and other professionals to explore answers to some of your most important marketing questions. Who are you selling to? What do those customers need? What distinguishes your product or service from the competition? Brainstorm, distill the best ideas and build from there.

Step 3: Listen

At this point, your marketing plan should clearly define everything that influences the purchasing decision: quality and price, service and delivery, image and brand. The next step is discovering what customers think about it. Make personal calls, send surveys via email and include incentives to encourage participation. Use the feedback to prepare a SWOT analysis defining the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the market.

Step 4: Draft

The first three steps prepared you with an overview of customers and market conditions. Now, you’re ready to flesh out your marketing plan. Start with a summary of your market position and goals: what you expect to accomplish in a specific time period. Include target markets with an appropriate strategy for each and define the marketing channels you plan to use to attract target customers. It’s always wise to share the draft with both your team and a marketing consultant.

Step 5: Track

No marketing plan would be complete without benchmarks. After all, how else do you plan to measure results and determine the time to rethink your approach? Start by comparing the category and cost of marketing communications with specific sales forecasts. Designate responsibility, set deadlines and hold people accountable to tracking the results of your marketing plan. Review the marketing plan each year to redefine any specific marketing goals.

Tips on Building a Successful Marketing Plan

Executing a marketing plan can be a challenge but most marketers struggle more with the concept of building one. Interestingly, the toughest decision for many marketers is what to do and how to do it.  The heavy lifting in the early stages of marketing plan development is quite demanding but it also paves the way to success further down the road.

The most successful marketing plans incorporate entire teams from finance to manufacturing, personnel, supply and more. The right mix of people can provide invaluable, realistic input on achievable goals and how best to reach them.

The same key people also add dimension to any marketing plan with valuable insights on potential yet unrealized marketing opportunities. Among the most valuable human assets in the process of building a successful marketing plan is the marketing consultant.

Linx is more than a marketing consultant.

In addition to a marketing plan, every company has a business plan – a vision statement declaring the ultimate goals of the company. There’s a relationship between the business plan and marketing plan, which allows both plans to flourish with the right strategy.  No marketing organization takes this strategic relationship more seriously than Linx.

Linx was founded on the philosophy to link your business plan to your marketing plan – it’s where we came up with the name Linx! More than “marketing advice” – we can test, pull back and adjust, perform risk/reward calculations and implement a plethora of our own market-driven business strategies.

Let us build you a marketing plan – strategically and creatively linked to your business plan – to change the way you see the world…and how the world sees you. Contact us today.