8 Components of a Marketing Plan

Do you have a good marketing plan?

When you started your business, you may not have realized that marketing and advertising yourself can be a full-time job in itself.

As a seasoned business owner, you probably spend as much time marketing yourself or your business as you do creating new services, products, or designs.

Think back to when you first started your business. One of the first things you did was probably create an Instagram account and start posting. You probably had a target audience in mind but really at that point, it was just about getting followers and noticed. As a seasoned business owner you now know that there's much strategy behind marketing than that.

Marketing is a catch-all word for other activities like advertising, branding, brand awareness, promotion, content marketing, social media marketing, packaging, positioning, promotions, and sales. Even customer service and product pricing fall under marketing. In large corporations each of these have specialist hired to execute.

A chief marketing officer or marketing director’s job is to make sure that all these hired specialist execute according to a set of objectives and goals.

There are strategy meetings with top executives where each specialist has to make sure they are developing marketing efforts that drive the results they want. When you think about your own business and all the marketing roles you have to fill on your own, it can be overwhelming. Especially if you don’t have a marketing background.

There are 8 key components to a marketing plan. As a solopreneur, or someone with a small team, you don't have the resources that a large corporation has, so you're either wearing many hats or you're executing many things.

8 Components of a marketing plan for creative business owners. How to create a marketing plan.
8 Components of a marketing plan for creative business owners. How to create a marketing plan.

Which is why it's so important to choose the marking activities that are going to give you the most results, executing a few of them, and executing those well.

Developing a marketing plan isn't just about knowing when you're going to launch a new product or service, and it isn't about just having a consistent blog or social media schedule.

The point of marketing is to keep your sales funnel full and remind people that you exist and to point them directly to where the purchase is made.

Marketing touches all aspects of your business and there is science behind creating a well-rounded marketing plan. As simple as it seems to just put stuff out there on social media, there’s a lot more to it that you need to think about.

Start with a solid marketing plan with these 8 components:

1. Market Research

First, you need to understand the environment that you are selling in by using tools like a SWOT Analysis. You need to understand and organize all the things you can find about your market and the products or services that you're selling. You probably have a good idea of market dynamics seasonality, your customers, suppliers and vendors, and what the current climate is like, but you definitely need to write this stuff down and use it as a benchmark and backbone to build your marketing plan upon.

2. Target Audience

Your marketing strategy starts with your customer and understanding their needs, wants, and problems. Once you've identified those you can develop a message should speak to them in a consistent way throughout all your media channels. It's important to have a ideal client description and you need to use it in your marketing.. It can be the most important in the most challenging part of developing your marketing plan because it forces you to define a niche market. The biggest mistake business owners make is to think that they can sell their product or service to a bigger market. If you don't understand who your ideal clients are, you'll dilute your brand messaging or product offerings in an effort to appeal to everyone - and virtually ensure that you actually appeal to no one.

3. Market Strategies

Knowing how you will market is also important. You need to know what your plan of action will be for your marketing plan in general. What will your pricing strategy be - will you be the higher-priced item or the low priced option? What sales channels will you use? You could choose between brick and mortar, online sales, in-person events, wholesale, etc.  What products and services will you offer? Will your strategy be to be the go-to and expert and Industry and therefore be able to sell your training programs or tools? Will you use content marketing to drive traffic to the point of purchase? All of these things are very important strategies to consider and you should choose the ones that you think will work for you and for your target audience. Once you chosen your market strategy, stick to it like glue.

4. Goals & Objectives

Marketing objectives, once defined, can be the key to your success as they act as a compass for all of your marketing activities. Even if it’s just you on your team, it’s important to remember you have a direction when things start to get tough. Or, if you have a team, it keeps everyone on the same page, using the same message, and working toward the same goals and objectives.

There is a difference in goals and objectives that I want to make sure we define. Goals are statements you make about the future of your business - they are forward thinking. Objectives are the steps you’ll take to reach those goals. They are current, measurable and quantifiable.  Your revenue projections and sales goals also fall under goals and objectives.  They absolutely must be strictly aligned with your marketing activities.

8 Components of a marketing plan for creative business owners. How to create a marketing plan.
8 Components of a marketing plan for creative business owners. How to create a marketing plan.

5. Media  & Tactics

You must know which media you're going to use to reach your audience.  First, do your research on your target audience and find out where they're hanging out and type of content works best on that platform.  Just because everyone is on Instagram doesn't mean that your target audience is there. Your target audience may hang out on Pinterest. Either way, understanding each media platform’s specific demographics will help you choose where you need to show up.  Only pick a few tactics that you know will work with your target audience. If you're new to that platform pick a strategy and try it out, adjust as you learn more and master it, and then you can move on to mastering a new one.

6. Budget and Action Plan

Your marketing budget will be defined by your revenue projections. The more you sell the more you can spend on promoting your products or services. Each month you should schedule what you're going to spend and what results you want to see from that marketing activity. Marketing cost can occur whether you're paying someone in- house, outsourcing, or using your own valuable time to execute your activities. Tracking your budget in conjunction with your results is important because it will show what your return on investment is, and therfor know if you need to spend more, less, or change your budget or your activities.

7. Metrics

Metrics are where the rubber hits the road in marketing. This is your crystal ball to understanding if your marketing activity is actually working or not. Making sure you have internal feedback loops and place, Google analytics installed, and measuring using S.M.A.R.T. Goals will help you understand if your activities are actually delivering what you want. If something isn’t working, you’ll know if you’re wasting your time on things that aren’t bringing in Revenue.

8. Content Plan & Schedule

Creating a schedule of how you will promote, market, or advertise your business will help you know where your marketing is aiming, where you will be publishing your content, and will make sure that you aren't cannibalizing your other marketing efforts. This is where the chaos and confusion of marketing can be brought to order in a clear and concise plan. Using a content calendar will help you see where promotions may overlap each other and will make sure that you're utilizing all of your chosen media in the best way possible. It's also a great tool to use if you outsource any of your marketing activities so everyone is on the same page, and is a great place to also store your metrics and results.

As you're reading this, some questions like this may have come up:

  • How do you choose which media is best for you and where do you learn about the demographics?
  • How do you know which is the best market strategy for your business?
  • What needs to go in your content calendar?
  • How do you know which metrics you need to measure?
  • How do you know what is a good amount to spend on Advertising?
  • Where do you go to get the demographic information for different media platforms?

Obviously, this is just the tip of the iceberg. And I can't explain or go into detail of what a complete marketing plan looks like today. But this will hopefully get you started.