6 things you (probably) didn't know about your marketing plan

by Nicole Klimek

There are so many clients I work with that either don’t have a useable marketing plan. . or plain just don’t have one! A lot of people don’t understand that a marketing plan isn’t just some stagnant document that you have to create once a year to supplement your business plan. One of the first things I tell clients is that your marketing plan is a living, breathing document that should be reviewed monthly and yes. . . even adjusted a little! Here are a few more tidbits that some people may find helpful.

  1. It takes more than a few hours to write. It shouldn’t take weeks but honestly, it could. I find that the more a client is prepared and armed with background support, data and some goals, the more likely they are to write a successful plan in 1-3 days. If it takes more than 3-4 weeks, you’re likely off target and may need read further.

  2. Shopper surveys are a catalyst. Ok, yes. You probably knew that already but I don’t think people use them to their fullest potential! You can gather so much useful information through surveys and all of it can help direct your marketing plan. One thing I find that people have a hard time grasping is the type of questions they should ask and how to administer the survey. Look for our future blog about how to create an effective shopper survey, but for now you can take a look at this shopper survey to get some general ideas on simple, effective questions.

  3. Set realistic goals. Again, you already know this. But most plans I review aren’t effective because they aren’t realistic. You have to know your store, your demographics and your overall growth strategy before you can write attainable goals in your marketing plan. Be specific! Create metrics to measure the success rate of your action plan.

  4. You can change the plan! Seriously! While a lot of the content shouldn’t change, there are some things that really should! If you get a new store in town, the market hits a recession or some other local trend starts up, you need to adjust your current plan to address the updates. If your goals are no longer the top priority for some reason, take action! Staying on top of the market trends is one of the most important actions you can take to be effective.

  5. Plan the attack. Your action plan is the heart if this whole thing, so don’t skip it, go to fast or lose sight of your overall goal. You need to create a strategy for each of your goals. Learning about your market through multiple channels is one of the most critical pieces. You have so many tools to use and so many insights to analyze. Radio, tv, flyers, online, social media, in store, newspaper, billboards, chamber of commerce, bus ads, speaking engagements, sponsorships, and so many more. Knowing what to focus on depends on your demographics. And you know your market, right?

6. There is a formula! I like to outline 3 things, at least, when I’m writing a marketing plan;

  1. Strategy (ex. position YOUR STORE to be the low price leader in natural foods).

  2. Key Message (ex. YOUR STORE has great prices on brand name products and are especially competitive on the staple items).

  3. Tactics (ex. Be diligent and accurate on price shopping your competitors. Have a staples or basic line that is visible and part of your staff’s lingo. Merchandise to the best of your ability! Offer a monthly coupon that is meant to offset any prices you can’t beat. Personal shoppers to teach people how to shop low cost).

We’ll have more blog posts on this topic but hopefully you’ve learned a few new tidbits that can help you start planning with some more depth. If you have any suggestions, tips or advice of your own - please share! Ask questions!