What should you include in a Marketing Strategy/Business Plan?

Do you have a documented Marketing Strategy? Or a marketing section in your Business Plan? Most small businesses don’t. Maybe because they haven’t made time to think it through and write something up. Perhaps because they don’t know where to start.

If you are lacking a Marketing Strategy, or have one that needs to be reviewed and updated, here are my top 10 aspects to cover:

1. A summary of your business vision and mission and brand values

What is the bigger purpose for your business? What kind of change are you looking to make for your team, your clients, your community, the wider world? What is important to your culture and ethos? You can read more about what I like to call the Purpose, Passion and Principles that form the core of your business brand on another post I wrote here.

2. An outline profile of your target markets/ideal client

You can segment your target market in different ways, but ideally you will identify the criteria that define your ideal clients, and segment by shared characteristics and needs – e.g. by demographic and/or psychographic profile, problems faced and solutions/benefits sought, and/or past buying behaviour. Click here, here and here to read more about this in previous posts I have written.

3. Competitor/Collaborator analysis

You will benefit from having clarity on the other key players in your market and how you are going to position yourself as being different. Also investigate who are your current/potential allies – e.g. introducers/referrers or enablers/partners for bigger projects?

4. SWOT Analysis

What are your unique Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats? Identifying these will enable you to focus on maximising your strengths, realising the potential of opportunities and mitigating against your weaknesses and the risks posed by potential threats to your business.

5. Customer journey mapping

How will your marketing collateral and activity support your entire sales and service operation from end-to-end? You need to identify how you will acquire new clients (through a lead generation and nurturing strategy), how will you optimise sales conversions (through your sales process), and how will you increase loyalty/retention/satisfaction levels. Click here to read another post I wrote about how to do this exercise.

6. Key Messages

What are you really selling? How do you communicate the specific value you offer and how you are different? What is the look and feel of your brand personality and tone of voice?

7. Pricing

How will you price your products/services? What is your discounting policy? Any special promotions you plan to run?

8. Marketing Channels

Which marketing communications will you focus on using to reach your ideal clients/target markets (e.g. social media, press/media, exhibitions, email, blogging, public speaking, networking). This is where it gets more tactical – most businesses jump straight in here without thinking through everything else first.

9. Targets & KPIs

How much revenue do you need to generate? Number of clients? Average order value? Decide what are the key metrics you need to track success, and set aside a regular time to review them.

10. Budget/resource

What are you going to put in to achieve the results you seek (people, time, skills/training, tools/systems/software, money)? What kind of return on investment and rate of return do you want?

Developing your marketing strategy may also involve undertaking a product and service review using an Ansoff or Bostonmatrix to evaluate what has the most potential for growth and profitability. I’ll cover this in a future post.

Ultimately, creating a marketing strategy, whether as a standalone document, or as a part of your Business Plan is crucial to create a foundation for success and growth.

The process you go through to create it will involve answering some big questions which are fundamental to understanding who you are as a business, and who you want to become.

It’s a journey of self-discovery and requires as much reflection on what you want to create with your business from a personal or internal perspective as it does looking outward into the market to understand what your clients and prospects want from you.

Navigating this process alone is challenging for most business owners as it requires a huge amount of discipline to make the time to undertake it when there are a million and one other things on your To Do list which may seem more pressing. Developing your Marketing Strategy is what Stephen Covey (author of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) would call an ‘Important but not Urgent’ task.

It might be something you’ve had on your To Do list for some time but you keep getting distracted with other more ‘Urgent but less Important’ tasks.

Another reason you might be putting it off is that you’ve not done this before and even with my pointers here don’t feel confident going it alone.

Or you may just feel too close to your business to see things clearly.

If you’d value my expertise and objectivity to guide you through the process and make this the year that you get a well-thought-out Marketing Strategy in place to grow your business, please get in touch.