A Simple Guide to Writing Your Startups Marketing Plan

The first instinct of many entrepreneurs when it comes to marketing is to fire a hail storm of messages at as many people as possible. They set up 10 different social media pages, create T-shirts and stickers, and plan a launch party and a bunch of other unnecessary stuff. This is basically a surefire way to flush all your money down the drain and let’s face it, if you’re a budding entrepreneur chances are you don’t have a lot to spend anyway. Now it’s not that any of these efforts won’t get you attention per se, however it’s all very uncoordinated. Marketing is about precision, planning and strategizing. When a military goes to war they don’t just run in and start attacking, they create a strategy that will hopefully lead to a successful result with as few casualties as possible. In essence this is the same in marketing, all be it a little less dramatic. You need to have a plan and a strategy that will lead you to victory as efficiently as possible. I’m going to assume that you’ve worked out your price points, distribution and overall operational costs and that you’re ready to develop a marketing plan to get the word out and to increase your sales. If you still need to figure this out then I would recommend you to do this before you start putting your marketing plan together.

Target Group

To start with you need to understand who your target group is. This needs to be clearly defined in terms of demographics. How old are they? Where do they live? How much do they earn? After that you should create some customer profiles to help define your customers in detail from a psychological point of view. Essentially this means creating a profile for your ideal customer, what problems does he/she have? What are his/her passions? What does his/her day look like? This should help you to understand your target group better and to recognize where your product or service can make the difference their lives.

Goals/Objectives

Next you will want to outline what your goals are for your marketing plan and how you will measure them. You will want to be a specific as possible here as this is the foundation of your plan. If you’re starting out then chances are you’re going to want to increase your brand awareness or the amount of people that have heard of your brand. This is a key part of startup marketing because chances are that no one has heard of your product yet, and all though they may be very willing to buy it they need to know you exist. However brand awareness is a bit difficult to measure, so you should try to confine it to a specific context. An example of this could be:

Increase product website traffic by 25 percent from 1000 to 1250 monthly visitors over a period of 8 weeks starting from March 1st to April 26th 2017.

This goal is specific and measurable and sets a clear direction for your plan. However you may want your goal to reflect a different objective such as boosting sales from 50 units to 100 units per month. This is entirely up to you, but try to be a specific as possible.

Budget

You now know what you want to achieve and therefore you have a better understanding g of how much you will need to spend to make this happen. It’s best to define your marketing budget for your business annually. This way you can see how much each marketing campaign will cost you in relation to the overall amount you are willing to spend. It’s best to be realistic here, if you can only afford to spend $500 over the year then that’s fine, but make sure that it’s accurate. This way you can have better insight into how much your marketing plan will cost you.

Strategy

At this point you have a clear goal and defined target group so next you need to develop a strategy so you can actually achieve this goal. If we continue with the example of increasing brand awareness and thus increasing website traffic, then you need to develop a strategy that will increase website traffic. In this case your best option is digital ads. However will you use Facebook ads, Google Ad words or perhaps a combination of both? This needs to be determined in your strategy. Don’t be afraid to get creative here, try to figure out what will work best and be most cost efficient and which channels will work best for your plan. It is essential here that you choose a strategy that is financially viable and fits into your marketing budget. If you have no money then you need to get very creative. There are tons of websites and blogs that may find your product interesting and will promote it for free if they like it. This could be a great way to drive up awareness and sales simultaneously and it won’t cost you.

Message

Now that you know what your strategy is you can work on developing the message. Let’s say you chose for Facebook ads, you need to work out what message you want to send in your ads. You need to think of the text that your audience will read and whether this is appealing to them. Think back to who your customer is and what they feel is important. If you’re selling a sports app, then you will want to use the language and tone that your customer uses. Also think about what images you will want to use. Do these reflect the brand that you are trying to be? If you’re a high-end brand then your imagery will need to reflect this. Remember that the choices you make here are going to determine how the public sees your brand and product. Make sure its professional looking.

Campaign

Your final component should be an overview of your strategy and how it will be executed. This includes the tasks that need to be completed per phase of the campaign. To get started make a list of all the tasks that need to be completed, the time it takes to complete each task, and who will be executing them. The best way to display this data is in a Gantt chart which you can make on Excel. This way you will know exactly how to execute your plan and where the key responsibilities lie. You can also easily measure how far you are in completing your campaign.


By following this template you should be able to kick start your startup’s marketing efforts fairly easily. In the beginning your goals are going to be fairly easy, however as your business grows so will your goals. Remember that metrics and measurements are your best assets when it comes to marketing. Be sure to understand your numbers before you start so you can measure your progress and see how efficient your expenditure is. With these insights you can fine-tune your efforts to maximize your bang for your buck.

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