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Without one, you are operating by "seeing what sticks"—not the optimal way to market your business.
These are the employees who engage with your customers on a daily basis, and their feedback will give you valuable insights about your customers and prospects.
Fill any gaps by talking with your employees and researching publications from trade and professional associations specific to your industry. Are any recent major developments affecting your distribution channels? Once you have the specifics down, consider what you can do to reduce the impact of these threats.
It's important to know that a properly developed, comprehensive plan isn't something you'll finish in one or even two sessions. You don't need to come up with a perfect plan, either.
You're deciding what you need to do to grow your business and how you're going to go about it. Marketing plans are not, and should not be, written in stone.
It will help you understand yourself and your customers.
Writing it down forces you to think through tough problems, come up with repeatable solutions and positions you for success.The best plans are flexible, letting you make adjustments as you gain experience, data and insight into what works.Before you can sit down to write, you'll need to do some market research.In marketing parlance, marketing strategies fall within what's known as the four Ps: product, price, place (distribution) and promotion.For a typical small business, promotion will form the bulk of your strategy.The marketing plan is a powerful tool that belongs in your small business arsenal.If you've been making do without a plan so far, or using a "play it by ear" approach, you're missing out on boosted revenue. A plan focuses your best efforts on activities that move your business forward.Once you've gathered market research, it's time to prepare your Market Overview section. What strategies are they using and how are they positioning themselves in the market? What kind of an impact do they have on your business? Now that you've described your current market situation and analyzed how various aspects of it affect your business, it's time to set your marketing objectives. Think of your marketing objectives as answering the crucial questions: What is my plan going to accomplish? Some examples of common marketing objectives include: It's a good idea to make each objective conform to the SMART goal criteria.Begin this section with a description of your market as it currently stands. Include details about sales, prices and gross margins. SMART = Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. To align both you need clear, measurable objectives.This is the first thing someone sees when they read your marketing plan but it is the last thing you write. Once you have a basic overview of your current market situation, it's time to take a closer look at your market environment. First, identify those trends that might present you with challenges. There will also likely be market trends that provide you with opportunities or benefit you in some other way.The Executive Summary outlines all the major points of the plan itself, so anyone in management can pick up the plan and get an idea about your vision. Identify these trends and describe the positive impact they could have on your business and how you can take advantage of them.