Your startup’s marketing plan should lay out all the strategies you will implement to reach your sales goals. As simple as it sounds, there is more to it than that. There is a big difference between creating just any marketing plan and creating a winning marketing plan.
With the following five steps guiding you, it’s much easier to create a marketing plan you can trust.
1) Analyze the Market
You won’t fully understand how to market your startup until you analyze the market. Answer these questions:
- What are your competitors doing?
- What aren’t they doing?
- How have other companies achieved their sales goals?
- What can you do to set your startup apart from the competition?
It goes without saying that your business plan addresses many aspects of your startup’s market. Use this data to take things one step further, focusing your resources on learning how other companies are marketing their products and services.
2) Who is Your Target Audience?
Hands down, this is one of the most important questions you can answer. You don’t want to overcomplicate this process. Instead, describe your target audience in a one to two paragraph brief. Make sure you also touch on details such as:
- Challenges/pain points
As you dive deeper into this question, a perfect picture of your target audience, i.e. buyer personas will become clearer. At that point, you’ll know exactly how to reach them and push for engagement.
3) Set Goals
When creating your business plan, it’s likely that you set goals in regards to growth, revenue, and profit. But did you ever stop to think about how you will reach these goals?
To keep it simple, write down two short and long term goals. Examples of short term goals could be:
- Map out an editorial calendar and content development process to help generate leads.
- Setup social media profiles on all major platforms buyer personas are on.
Long term goals look at the bigger picture, including things such as:
- Reach 10,000 Twitter followers within 12 months.
- Generate 500 high-quality leads within the next 12 months.
Tip: your goals should be measurable, as this will help keep you on track.
4) List Out Your Strategies
As you know, there are thousands of ways to market your business. Content marketing and social media marketing are all the rage. These may be part of your marketing plan, but you don’t have to stop there.
Here is a great list of 25 of the best free or cheap ways to market your business. You may not do everything on the list, but even if you implement one tactic it could have a profound impact on your startup.
Note: the marketing strategies you use today may not be the same ones you rely on next year. It’s important to adjust your approach to keep your startup in front of your target audience.
5) Set a Marketing Budget
In a perfect world, your startup would have an unlimited marketing budget. But in the real world, this isn’t true for most. You need to bootstrap while making sure your marketing budget is stretched as far as possible.
Be clear from the start on how much money you have in your marketing budget. It’s easy to get carried away, so stay focused on this number as the month wears on.
A great approach to take is to start slow. Once you begin to generate revenue and the desired results, you can increase your marketing budget to accelerate growth. Doing so, ensures that you are spending wisely where you’ll gain the most with the least amount of marketing dollars.
Avoid these Common Mistakes
Now that you have a better idea of how to create a winning marketing game plan, it’s time to focus on some of the mistakes that have sunk other startups before you.
- Spreading yourself too thin. Every marketing strategy has its benefits, but you need to focus on a few and do those well.
- Spending more than you can afford. There is no guarantee that any strategy will generate results, so don’t spend more than you have in your budget.
- An unwillingness to change. It doesn’t matter what happened in the past, you must be willing to change in the future. For example, search engine marketing in 2010 is nothing like it is today. You have to change with the times.
Even though marketing can be a trial and error process, you can learn a lot by examining the mistakes of other startups.
With the right marketing plan in place from day one, you will feel better about the future of your startup. This isn’t a task you should rush, all because you want to put it behind you. It is a big part of your success, and for this reason it deserves your attention. You may not create a winning marketing game plan the first time around. It may take some trial and error and tweaking to settle on something that generates serious results.
Can you think of any other steps for creating a startup marketing plan? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.