The Elements of an Effective Marketing Plan

Writing a Marketing Plan

Whether your business is a start-up or existing, marketing plans are a crucial component to sustained financial success. Careful planning will ensure successful implementation, leading to intended financial results for your organization. This planning begins with the development of a marketing plan.

Before you begin, it is important to establish a completion date for the initial draft, to identify important parties that will contribute ideas for the plan as well as the responsibilities of individuals to implement the plan and the annual marketing budget. Once you have set the stage for writing and completing your plan, you can begin its creation.

Follow these 7 steps when writing a marketing plan:

1. Setting the Objectives- What are your organization’s marketing objectives? What is required to achieve your annual revenue goals? How many customers do you need to acquire? How much revenue should be generated from existing customers? For existing businesses, a beneficial exercise to complete is a S.W.O.T. analysis. Identify your organization’s current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This analysis will enable you to develop key insights into the drivers of your business and what changes need to occur to reach your annual targets.

2. Research-Conducting market research and market analysis can allow your business to understand where your customers are currently coming from. This information can allow you to set focus areas for new client acquisition as well as up-selling opportunities for your current customer base.

3. Define Strategies-How will your business compete against your competition? What are your target markets? What price offerings will give your business the greatest competitive edge?

4. Develop a promotion plan- Outline which marketing communication tactics are needed to achieve your strategies such as advertising, PR, search engine marketing, events, etc. Choose a few tactics under each strategy to implement.

5. Build Measurements for Each Tactic-Outline how you plan to measure the results achieved for each tactic. How will you track and measure ongoing results? What metrics are crucial for your results to be obtained? I.e. # clients acquired, total sales volume, product mix.

6. Develop a Strategic Plan- Outline step by step the concepts and ideas that are needed to achieve results. Set weekly, monthly and quarterly goals, identifying the individuals responsible for each task, as well as which metrics will be achieved and tracked.

7. Implement, Track and Modify the Plan- Now is the most important piece of the marketing plan- implementation. As you implement your marketing plan, be sure to track all results. If you have a team working on the marketing plan, be sure to update them to results experienced by the entire team. As things require attention or modification, be sure to change the plan accordingly.

How to Develop Your Own Marketing Plan

If you’ve been around the Internet trying to earn a living for a while, then you know how many marketing systems there are available to buy. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry wants to teach you how to make money for a price. However, what works for one marketer may not work for another, so you need to know how to develop your own marketing plan.

But this doesn’t mean you can’t learn things from other people who have been successful. It just means you really shouldn’t copy them completely. Leave some room in your marketing plan to add some of your own style into the mix.

What this implies is, you should begin developing your marketing plan as a blueprint rather than using a “cookie cutter” system. A blueprint is like an outline of components that gives you your own step by step of how your particular business will run, while at the same time giving you clearance to add yourself into it.

Then, as you work out how each component fits into your plan, you can determine how much time and effort each one should get.

For example, do you want to spend a great deal of time and expense on web site design, or does your marketing plan allow you to go with a simple blog system like WordPress? Are you planning on lead capture for email marketing, or does you blueprint call for more pay per click advertising?

Naturally, this would depend on what you’re planning to market.

In any case, a healthy portion of market research and testing can give you a better idea of how to bring all the components of your marketing plan together.

Let’s say you’re thinking of getting into promoting to various niches. Market research will tell you if a certain niche market is more prone to buying products off the shelf, or if they prefer information.

Promoting products to a niche more likely seeking information would obviously be a waste of time. But they may be inclined to sign up to a mailing list, or join a membership for a nominal fee if they would get the information they desired.

So as you can see by this one example, there really isn’t a cookie cutter way to promote to every market. Each market has its own variables to consider, and doing your own research to find out what each niche calls for is the only way to reveal it.

However, there are sure fire ways to do the research you’ll need. Thus if you’re going to use methods from successful marketers, learn how they did the research and follow their lead in that.

Market research is especially important because, regardless of what plan you come up with, or how much of someone else’s plan you incorporate, the most unique variable going into your plan is “you.” You see, every successful business always has a personality of its own, and so you become that personality for your business whether you intend it to be so or not.

This might mean your market plan is better suited for certain markets, while not so much for others. Or it might mean you need to add more or less of your emotional qualities in some, while driving home your knowledge and expertise in others.

It all comes down to knowing your markets, and knowing what you’re capable of adding to them. Doing the research and then testing how you and your market react to one another will give you a relatively safe marketing plan to go after and expand on.

So yes, use what you’ve learned from other people, especially successful people. But develop your own marketing plan by adding “you” into the mix, then do the research and testing needed to see whether you want to invest more time and money into it. Not all markets will be a match made in heaven for you, but knowing which ones are will get you on your way to success.

The Essential Restaurant Marketing Plan

Why do you need a restaurant marketing plan? For the same reason that a builder needs blueprints to build a house. A goal without a plan is just a wish. Are you wishing for success or do you have a plan in place for success?

A comprehensive restaurant marketing plan should be created once a year, where you take the time to assess your current business condition, and make goals for the next 12 months to map out where you want the business to be a year from now. A complete plan contains an in-depth analysis of where you are, what the conditions are in the market, and identifies your opportunities for growth.

Many restaurant operators believe that a marketing plan is essentially an advertising calendar. “We’re scheduled to be on the radio this week, followed by a coupon mailer next week, then some TV ads plus a newspaper insert.” While an advertising and promotions calendar is useful and should be a part of your marketing plan, it is not the plan itself.

Following is an outline of the main sections of a marketing plan.

• Executive Summary: This is an overview of what’s to come, the “Cliffs Notes” version of your restaurant marketing plan. Consider this as the condensed elevator speech that summarizes what’s contained in the following pages. The Executive Summary should be written last, after all the other sections are completed.

• Situation Analysis: This section includes a Market Summary, presenting your Target Markets, Market Needs, Market Trends, and Market Growth. This is followed by a SWOT Analysis of your business, which looks at the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats to your restaurant business. Follow this up with a look at your competition, and your service offerings and keys to success.

• Marketing Strategy: Start this section with your Mission Statement, followed by your marketing objectives and goals for the coming year. This leads into a look at your Financial Objectives because marketing should be an investment that brings a return for the company. The next sub-sections deal with the nitty gritty of your marketing. Who are you targeting? How are you positioning your restaurant? What methods are you using to reach your target audience? Follow it up with any marketing research you may have available.

• Financials, Budgets, and Forecasts: This section provides an overview of the financial aspects of your restaurant as they relate to the marketing efforts, including break-even analysis, sales forecasts and expense forecasts.

• Controls: This final section breaks down how this plan is being put into action. Lay out the timeline of the important milestones for your marketing initiatives. This could include dates for planning, production, implementation, analyzing results, etc. plus budgeting information.

Creating a comprehensive restaurant marketing plan takes some time and effort, but you will enjoy many benefits by having a plan. You will have a better understanding of your business; it provides an opportunity to really think about where you currently are; and it helps identify what direction your company needs to go to really grow. The restaurant marketing plan is the roadmap to turn your goals into a reality.