9 Steps For Creating A Successful Marketing Plan For Your Online Business

Creating a marketing plan is a prerequisite for any person conducting business. Whatever business you are involved in, you need to base your marketing campaigns on a well laid out plan so that you do not lose track and run your business blindly. Have you ever created one?

Surprisingly, not many online marketers think about creating a marketing plan. They just begin their online businesses and end up jumping from one failed marketing method to another. But if you are a success-conscious marketer, you need to have a WRITTEN MARKETING PLAN to avoid doing things wrongly. In this article, I would like to share with you 9 steps for creating a successful marketing plan.

1. To create a successful marketing plan, you need to read to understand the different online marketing and advertising methods. If you are a newbie, you need most importantly to equip yourself with some knowledge on online marketing before you create your marketing plan.

2. Understand your market and competition. Find out first what the marketplace is, what happens in it and what its trends are.

Additionally, get information on your competitors by finding out who they are, what they sell, how they sell it, what their marketing methods are, what makes them stand out, how their websites are, what their weaknesses are and what they don’t offer that you could offer. You can easily get this information by searching on the internet.

3. Get to know properly your targeted customers. You should know who they are, how and when they buy, what their problems are, which solutions they are looking for, how they respond and find what they buy, what they say and what needs to fill the gap.

4. Discover the position of your business. Find out more about the product you intend to sell or promote and how you will position your business. Find out what your strengths and weaknesses are, your field of business and expertise, lives and challenges of your customers and the different niche groups in your line of business.

5. Develop your marketing messages. Your plan should entail in-depth information on what your brand is, what your unique selling point, strap-line and marketing slogans will be. Remember that your messages have to cause action to be taken. It’s a reason why you need to develop them carefully and strategically.

6. Set your marketing goals. A successful marketing plan clearly spells out the vision for your business, what you want to achieve, your specific achievable goals and your priorities. Your goals have to be stated clearly in that they are not only SMART but they are also SMARTER (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time bound, extended and rewarding).

7. Determine your marketing methods. Get to know the marketing methods competitors use and what works for you best basing on your strengths, knowledge, skills and ability. Focus on how you will get new customers and maintain old ones as well.

8. Develop your budget. When developing your budget, base on the marketing methods you have selected to determine the total cost of your marketing campaigns, the resources you need to invest in your marketing and what your return on investment will be. Having a marketing budget is a key to creating a successful marketing plan.

9. Map your marketing strategy. Creating a successful marketing plan requires you to focus on how you will progress in each and every aspect of your plan. You should focus on what is needed to set up your business and the steps and practical actions to be taken. Project your anticipated obstacles and deadlines and how you will track, evaluate and review your strategy.

Finally, having a marketing plan is a necessity for any success-conscious online marketer. Always have it written down and make it as simple as you can. Your marketing plan serves as your guide. It’s your commitment that helps you to walk your road to success in a systematic manner. If you have been doing things haphazardly, it’s high time you created a marketing plan for your online business.

Marketing Plan for Your Business Success

A quote that I use on a regular basis is “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” by Benjamin Franklin. In business, the most important plans to have are a business plan and a marketing plan. Today we will discuss the marketing plan. The marketing plan shows the direction of all marketing and advertising efforts. Remember, marketing is the total efforts of getting together buyers and sellers, whereas advertising is the types of communication used in marketing. Advertising includes TV, radio, online, print, and other mediums. Let’s go over some important parts of the marketing plan that will help your business succeed.

Situation Analysis – This is the current state of your business. It is where the question of why you are in business is answered. What products do you offer? What problem are you trying to solve? Also, how is your business different than others? The situation analysis is a look at the inner-workings of your business to identify product and service offerings, differences, and the main reason why you exist. Business owners can build a firm foundation for their mission and vision statement with this information and are better able to communicate their value to customers.

External Environment -The next part of the marketing plan is the external environment. What is going on outside of your business? Business owners should take a look at what is going on in the external environment or industry. Are other businesses in your industry succeeding or closing shop? Is the industry in a growth or declining phase? Could there be threats that could jeopardize your business operations? Industry information can be found online at http://www.sba.gov.

Target Market – Based on research, the target market section defines the ideal customers for your business. Who and where are your ideal customers? It defines income, gender, and level of education for your target market. When defining your target market, business owners should look at census, demographics, and other secondary information. A clearly defined target market enables business owners to better use resources to obtain new customers.

Advertising Mediums – There are many options available in advertising mediums. For example, TV, print, billboards, email, flyers, social media, and radio are some common mediums. Business owners should consider different advertising mediums to reach their target market. If your target market has high usages of the Internet, then use online advertising mediums. Take into account your marketing budget as well when choosing mediums.

Marketing Budget – The marketing budget explains how business owners will pay for marketing efforts. A marketing budget should be based on a percentage of gross sales, advertising mediums utilized, and other factors. Some marketing expenses to include in the marketing budget are tradeshows, events, and sponsorships.

The marketing plan is an important part of growing a successful business. Essentially, you are planning how customers get to know your business. A marketing plan doesn’t have to be 20 pages long to help your business grow. I have found some that are one page long that are just as effective. Click the link to download one or both one page marketing plans http://smallbiztrends.com/2008/06/one-page-marketing-plan.html.

Planning Effective Business-to-Business Marketing Communications

Many years’ experience has resulted in the development of two standard planning documents, the Product Marketing Strategy (PMS) and the Marketing Communications Plan (MCP). When properly completed, these documents – in particular the PMS – will be of great value not only within the organization but also for informing and impressing potential investors, lenders, joint venture partners, agents, distributors, etc.

The function of the PMS is to help the person responsible for marketing the product or service to produce a written specification of the task to be done, in a standard and logical format.
Some of the statements in the PMS may seem self-evident, but remember that you will have been living with this project for some time and what may be obvious to you may not be so obvious to others. The purpose of a PMS is to explain clearly to everyone who reads it what the company’s objective is and what its strategy is to reach this objective. As such, the completed document is company confidential information. You should note that the PMS requires answers to be given from the customer’s viewpoint, not only yours.

You may think this too is obvious, but some years ago an exercise was conducted with the top international management of a Scandinavian hi-tech company. After a long discussion of their new product, the people involved were divided into two and put into separate rooms. One group was asked to make a list of what the company was selling; the other group a list of what their customers were buying. Each list had ten points, and to be worthwhile everybody had to play it for real. They were very shocked when the lists had only two points in common, and a valuable lesson was learnt.

A properly completed PMS fully documents everything one needs to know in order to undertake a product launch, marketing and sales campaign, and post-sales support.
The second document, the Marketing Communications Plan (MCP), must be ignored until the PMS is complete, approved and signed off. The purpose of the MCP is to define (and cost) all the different marketing communications activities required to implement that aspect of the PMS. To avoid confusion, the various types of activity are divided into categories – advertising, PR, etc – which are defined in the document. Not every category may be relevant to every product or service.

The MCP cannot by definition be worked on until the PMS is complete; after all, if you don’t know what you are trying to achieve and why, you cannot possibly say what is required to do it. The MCP has another advantage in that it defines each individual item and activity and puts a cost to each one, resulting in a total MC budget. If the result is too high, then rather than just saying ‘cut 10%’, you go through the MCP and choose to manage without specific items. You can decide not to produce an ad, or run it fewer times, reduce a brochure from 12 pages to 8, print a datasheet in black-and-white instead of colour, and so on. In each case you know how much you are going to save, and what you will have to make do without in order to achieve this saving.

In general, the PMS should be reviewed after a year, and updated if and as required. Then a new MCP is produced to give next year’s MC budget, and so on each year. This is not a one-off exercise, to be forgotten once it has been done. This system of PMS+MCP really does work; several clients have found it most valuable in making them think through in detail exactly what they are trying to achieve and how, and then putting this down on paper so everybody involved is not only playing in the same match, but on the same side. Nobody can come afterwards and say they didn’t understand what they should have done.

The MCP similarly provides a specification of exactly what MC support the sales force will get, where and when, so they can plan how best to make full use of it. A well-thought-out MCP, professionally executed, can provide a good return on the investment, since it can improve the productivity of the sales force by reducing the number of sales calls required, and the time taken, to win an order and reduce the demand for post-sales support.