7 Steps To Develop a Marketing Plan That Actually Works

Don’t forget the before-and-after aspects of marketing when making a budget.

Many small businesses make the mistake of limiting their marketing budget to marketing communications costs such as advertising, public relations, direct mail and promotions. A true marketing plan includes the upfront planning, communications expenditures and ongoing monitoring and tracking of your marketing efforts. Include all three components of a marketing strategy in your budget plan to spend your dollars with maximum efficiency and generate maximum sales. Here is a a 7-Step Guide to Creating a High-Performance Marketing Plan

Step 1Create a list of the different segments of your marketing efforts. Include research, testing, creative production, communications and tracking.

Step 2Estimate the costs involved in gathering market research. Market research includes efforts such as developing a customer profile and examining your competitors. Include administering surveys, buying research studies and hiring a consultant.

Estimate the costs of testing different marketing strategies. Include product giveaways, focus groups, creating different versions of your product, selling new items in limited locations and follow-up surveys.

Step 4Estimate the costs of a communications campaign. Include the costs of creative design for packaging, ads, websites and other collateral materials. Calculate the costs for your desired media buys, such as print ads, website banners and TV and radio commercials. Include expenses for direct mail, trade shows, public relations, contests, promotions and the cost of building and maintaining a website.

Step 5Estimate the costs of tracking and monitoring your communications efforts. This might include the purchase of a website statistics package, visiting retailers who sell your product or conducting customer mail or telephone surveys.

Step 6Add up the total estimated costs. Determine whether you can afford the total price of your marketing plan. If not, review each category to see where you can cut back.

Step 7Create a spending formula that ties your marketing budget to a percentage of sales. If your marketing plan is working, then the more you sell with it, the more you should consider spending on your marketing efforts. If your sales drop, a spending plan tied to sales will put in a place a brake that will alert you to reexamine each aspect of your marketing plan.

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