For many new or uninitiated entrepreneurs, business may start organically and they fly by the seat of their pants. This can work for a while, but for sustainable and profitable growth, solid marketing plans are essential.
Whether you’re writing a marketing plan for the purposes of yearly planning, the need for a specialised strategy or simply gaining a better understanding of the business, fortunately there is very little that’s new under the sun and there are plenty of sample marketing plans at your fingertips to help you formulate your own.
List of sample marketing plans
To get started, here is a list of resources for sample marketing plans:
- Entrepreneur’s Sample Marketing Plan Template
- Marketing & Sales Plan Pro: Sample Marketing Plans List
- How to Write a Marketing Plan
Sample marketing plans: The Fundamental elements
Across the board, well-written marketing plans are basically a comprehensive blueprint of a business’s marketing efforts.
This means they demonstrate solid understanding of all aspects of the business’s functions, from its target market, its competition, and its solutions and offerings, to expected customers and financials.
Sample marketing plans: 5 Must-haves
1. An executive summary
Also known as the ‘company description’, this is the who, what, when, where, why and how of the company. This is the opening opportunity to begin selling to the reader.
2. A situational analysis
This section outlines the marketing environment in which you operate. A SWOT analysis clearly demonstrates the business’s strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
The situational analysis also includes marketing demographics, needs, trends, growth, competition, marketing offering, keys to success and critical issues. This exercise alone will give you much greater clarity about your business and its place in the market.
3. The marketing strategy
Here you describe your business’s mission, marketing and financial objectives, target market and positioning, your marketing mix of products/services offered, price, promotions and distribution strategy, and of course market research to substantiate.
4. The all-important financials
Ideas are great, but does the money reflect the same? Here you will describe a financial overview of how the business in relation to market activity.
Required elements are a break-even analysis, sales forecasts, expense forecasts, and how these link to the market activities. Always be conservative when forecasting as it’s best to be conservative and happily surprised than unprepared and in hot water.
Here consider who makes up your marketing team, their roles in it and their ability to implement the described marketing plan. Also include contingency plans and any other issues to take into consideration such as difficulties and risks (whether software or immature markets – think of it all).
Top Marketing Trends For 2019
When you reflect on marketing trends that have taken centre stage in 2018, what stands out?
Maybe it’s the proliferation of Instagram stories or influencer marketing? Or the fact that video content has become even shorter and simpler with the rise of GIFs.
The real question is how have you incorporated these trends in to your marketing strategy, and what should you focus on in 2019? Here are six up and coming trends that you don’t want to miss:
1. Say hello to the social CEO
Customers want ‘real’ brand stories and to know what drives them. Leaders who are successful on social media show their companies’ human side and give their brands’ credibility and personality. This builds loyalty and, in some cases, an emotional connection that goes beyond the product or service.
Customers who feel this connection may even go on to become brand ambassadors.
Tip: Share stories that demonstrate your leadership style as well as company culture.
2. Initiate conversations
While 2018 brought the chatbots, the trend for 2019 is really using these bots to gather information about consumers by engaging with them on a personal level and steering them towards a sale. Bots are being trained to be authentic and sound more like people than the robots they are.
For example Facebook Messenger becomes more and more useful for brands as the platform allows customisation of automated messages and the ability to initiate a conversation at the right time.
Tip: You can also integrate this with Facebook shopping and increase conversion rates by enabling the bot to sell products to a consumer through the Facebook platform.
3. Keep it local
Influencer marketing can be short lived or a little superficial. So try to identify and partner with local influencers that are happy to work on long-term campaigns. Also use multiple touch points including podcasts, YouTube and Snapchat as well as Instagram and Facebook.
Tip: Before you reach out to an influencer, follow them and learn a bit about the way they represent brands and engage with their fans to see if they’ll be a good fit.
4. Try Instagram ads
As Facebook ads continue to dominate our feeds, advertisers are looking for a new place to stand out and get noticed. Instagram ads are on the rise, according to the Merkle report that showed that while Facebook ad spend grew 40% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2018, Instagram ad spend jumped 177% in the same time period.
Tip: Do some A/B split testing with different styles of images and calls-to-action.
5. Personalise email communication
Make sure to use automation and personalisation to really make your customers feel that you are listening.
Using hyper-segmentation, you can target very specific parts of your market. This will ensure that they receive personalised emails based on what they have expressed interest in or actions they have taken with regards to your brand.
Tip: Use automated campaigns after a first purchase; to request a review on social platforms; or just thank customers for shopping and remind them to share their purchase online.
Related: Free Sample Marketing Plan Template
6. Post in real time
In an effort to bring offline marketing into the online world, Instagram TV or IGTV allows brands to create a place for consumers to watch live events or brand content in their own time.
In addition, IGTV replaces the need for YouTube in some cases as brands are able to upload 10 or more minutes of footage directly to Instagram for consumers to watch as ‘episodes’.
This will become more prevalent in the years to come as businesses include this in their strategy. IGTV videos are less formal and will typically cost less than a traditional TV advert to create.
Whatever trends come our way, the key is to remain agile and adapt to how customers engage with your brand. And more than ever before, it’s important for all marketing touch points to align and communicate the same message.
4 Young Marketing Influencers You Can Learn From
Whether you’re a CMO or just trying to build your own brand, these influencers can help you reach your goal.
Today, social media is a very crowded and competitive ecosystem – it can be extremely difficult for brands to break through and spread their message to a large number of potential new customers.
Marketing via social media has become a necessity. According to a post by DMA, 45 percent of surveyed marketers are looking to increase brand awareness through social media. The same post stated that spending via social media is expected to increase 18.5 percent in the next five years.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
The Fifth P Is The Most Crucial
The reasoning is simple. If you don’t know your market, you will never be able to understand how the 4Ps apply to your potential customers.
The four Ps of the Marketing Mix (Product, Price, Promotion, and Place) have defined marketing campaigns, both successful and unsuccessful, for many years since E. Jerome McCarthy came up with the concept in 1960. And while there have been tremendous advances and innovations in marketing, the four Ps (4P) are still first on the list in any marketing course.
In the brand conscious society in which we live today, however, a fifth P has become the cornerstone to all marketing and branding exercises, whether you’re in the business-to-business or business-to-consumer market. The fifth P is People or is also referred to as Personalisation.
The reasoning is simple. If you don’t know your market, you will never be able to understand how the 4Ps apply to your potential customers:
- What products do they want?
- Where should you make them available?
- How to price your products to meet your market’s requirements and budget?
- How and where to promote your product?
The first step in defining your marketing strategy should be should be getting to know your customers. When you know who you are targeting and put people at the centre of the mix, you can more easily decide the optimal strategy that will deliver the most favourable results.
Airbnb has built a valuable brand by making the 5th P a focus of it’s branding activities. They typically target millennials born 1980-2000 and it’s understanding their traits (needs and principles) that has been the key to their success. Let’s look at how this impacts each subsequent P individually.
Spending with a conscience is core to most millennials and they tend to opt for products that allow for transparent traceability throughout the supply chain. Airbnb is not seen as a large corporate ripping off the little guy, but creates a community where everyone contributes and benefits from something seen as open, transparent and disruptive to the status quo. The company has no real assets, but its brand has the visibility of a Coca Cola or Starbucks in the millennial market.
While its market is cost conscious, Airbnb knows they place a higher value on products and services that have been designed and developed in a manner that is good for people and the planet. Hence, by consuming the brand they become“part of the solution”.
Airbnb is, more than anything else, including its multi-billion dollar valuation, a community organisation that includes everyone from anywhere. Add to that the lower costs and almost limitless offerings, in general, and you have something their market can’t say no to. Airbnb is a real part of their culture and value system, not some fake corporation pretending to be ‘cool’.
In terms of promotions, understanding their market is apprehensive of contracts and long-term commitments. Airbnb has none, you make a deal with an owner or someone looking to rent for a while and that’s it, no fuss. In an interview with Fast Company, Airbnb’s head of brand, Nancy King said one of the key reasons for Airbnb’s success “is all about emotional connection, and that is really the root of it”. She continues that,
“Iconic brands have a disproportionate share of cultural voice, and they hold the internal culture of companies.” And it’s clear that Airbnb has developed that cultural integration with millennial values.
Convenience and accessibility is important to most markets, but millennials place an even higher priority on it. They want information right away, especially for online sales, and once bought they want to know where their product is in the supply chain until it arrives at the door.
In the case of Airbnb, your booking information is available everywhere and anywhere, on any device. And as part of the community culture it drives, its biggest brand builders are the word-of-mouth promotions its customers created in the natural flow of conversation, online and offline
“Airbnb is an amazing example of how a brand is the value of a company, in this case valued in the billions of dollars ($38 billion at the time of writing, according to Forbes),” adds Rolfe. “This value is based on the value of its community, its culture and the way its partners (buyers and sellers) value what the brand can do for them, not the value of sales pipelines or fixed assets.
“This is a $38 billion valuation based on brand alone, based on the company’s ability to identify its market and create the community (not the business strategy) that appeals to them. In other words, the other four Ps are determined and led by a clear and intense understanding of the 5th P, the people who give Airbnb its value.”
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