In marketing, there is a hierarchy of planning and strategising that is generally recommended to set up your business for success. Many small business owners don’t have a clear idea of what each plan entails and why they exist so, today, we’ll take a deep dive into the three key plans that every business needs.
A business plan is a comprehensive document that outlines the goals, strategies, and operational details of a business. It serves as a roadmap for the company’s future, helping entrepreneurs and stakeholders understand the viability and potential of the business venture. While specific details may vary depending on the type of business and its intended audience (e.g., investors, lenders, partners), a typical business plan should include the following key elements:
- Executive Summary: A brief overview of the business, including its mission, vision, key objectives, and a summary of the entire business plan.
- Company Description: Detailed information about the company, including its name, location, legal structure (e.g., sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation), founders, history, and any unique advantages it may have.
- Market Analysis: A thorough assessment of the industry in which the business operates, including market trends, potential customers, competitors, and market size.
- Products or Services: A description of the products or services the business will offer, highlighting their features, benefits, and competitive advantages.
- Target Market: Identification of the broad target audience or customer segment the business aims to serve and the reasons why this market is attractive.
- Sales Strategy: A plan for reaching the target market and promoting the products or services. This may include advertising, sales tactics, pricing strategy, and distribution channels.
- Competitive Analysis: An evaluation of the competition, their strengths, weaknesses, and how the business will differentiate itself in the market.
- Operations and Management: Information about the day-to-day operations of the business, key team members, their roles, and the organisational structure.
- Financial Projections: Detailed financial forecasts, including projected revenues, expenses, and profits for at least the first three to five years. This section may also include cash flow projections and break-even analysis.
- Risk Assessment: Identifying potential risks and challenges the business may face and outlining contingency plans to mitigate these risks.
A marketing plan is a sub-set of your business plan – this can be a separate document or it can exist as a section within your business plan. It is a strategic document that outlines the marketing objectives, strategies, and tactics a company will use to promote its products or services and reach its target audience. It serves as a roadmap for the marketing team or any third-parties you engage with and provides a clear direction for their efforts.
Below are the key components typically included in a marketing plan:
- Executive Summary: A brief overview of the marketing plan, summarising the main goals and strategies.
- Situation Analysis: An assessment of the company’s current marketing position, including an analysis of the market, competition, and the company’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Target Market: A detailed description of the specific customer segments the marketing efforts will focus on, including demographic information, preferences, and needs.
- Unique Selling Proposition (USP): A clear statement of what makes the company’s product or service unique and why customers should choose it over competitors.
- Marketing Objectives: Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals that the marketing team aims to achieve. These objectives should align with the overall business objectives.
- Marketing Strategies: High-level approaches and plans to achieve the marketing objectives. These strategies might include positioning, branding, pricing, distribution, and promotion.
- Marketing Tactics: Detailed action plans and activities to implement the marketing strategies. This includes specific marketing channels to be used (e.g., social media, email marketing, content marketing), advertising campaigns, events, and other promotional activities.
- Budget: The financial resources allocated to marketing initiatives and campaigns, including advertising costs, promotional materials, and marketing software.
- Timeline: A schedule or timeline that outlines when each marketing tactic will be executed and when the marketing objectives are expected to be achieved.
- Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Metrics and benchmarks used to measure the success of the marketing efforts. Common KPIs include customer acquisition cost (CAC), conversion rate, return on investment (ROI), website traffic, and social media engagement.
A well-developed marketing plan provides a cohesive and structured approach to achieving marketing goals, helps allocate resources effectively, and improves the chances of successfully reaching and engaging the target audience.
Social Media Strategy
Although social media is only one element within your marketing plan, its prevalence as a digital marketing medium and the variety of platforms available, often means a specific strategy is required in order to harness the efficiencies of the social media space.
A social media strategy should include:
- Executive Summary: a brief overview of the strategy, what information will be collected, and the platforms the strategy will cover.
- Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats (SWOT) analysis: a summation of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing the business and/or the industry sector.
- Audit: an overview of the current social media situation including platforms, usage and content.
- Competitor analysis: analysis of competitor activity and benchmarking against the business and/or industry sector for each platform being analysed.
- Strategic Plan: an overview of the Unique Selling Point of the business and key information about brand personality, messaging, features and benefits.
- Target audience: detailed information, platform specific, regarding the ideal audience/s for the business including demographic, geographic and psychographic information.
- Customer Personas: detailed profiles of the ideal target audience outlining pain points, needs, barriers, problems and challenges to ensure all messaging is targeted.
- Platform Plan: should include posting frequency, platform-specific content, recommended content pillars, planning and scheduling.
- Goals and Objectives: Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for each platform or brand, tactics to achieve results, recommendations and content breakdown.
- Review date: the date at which performance will be reviewed and feedback given.
At House of Social, one of our “not negotiables” is the need for a social media strategy which we develop with input from clients. Where available, we utilise the relevant information from the business plan and marketing plan to help inform what we put in the social media strategy. If these don’t exist, we are still able to prepare the strategy document, but there will be obvious limitations in what can be achieved and measured without these in place.
And, as always, if you’d like to know more please reach out and book a discovery call with us. We love a coffee and we love a chat – online or face-to-face.