Plans you need to grow your business

This is an excerpt from our Marketing Menu podcast which you can listen to alongside. If you wish to subscribe we produce podcasts every two weeks on Wednesdays and we are available on iTunes, Stitcher, Blubrry and TuneIn. To learn more look at our dedicated podcast channel which includes shownotes at www.themarketingmenu.com

You need a plan whatever stage your business is at, whether it’s just starting out, growing, or exiting, and it should be the blueprint for everything you do. It is simply too important just to stay in your head.

So what should you include in your plans to grow your business as there are different plans for different exercises.

First off there’s the Business Plan, which will probably look at a period of between 3 and 5 years. This should provide a thorough examination of the way in which the business will start and develop to fulfil your goals and aspirations, whether that’s simply to turn enough to make a good salary, whether it’s sustaining it to employ others or whether it is to build a portfolio.

Then there’s the Marketing Plan which supports your goals, which is all about how you’re going to get your product or service to market, what your strategy is regards pricing, product placement and then, finally, there’s the hugely important marketing, smaller month by month Action Plans.

Preparing any one of these plans will help you to set clear objectives for your business and clarify your thinking. They also help to set targets for future performance and allows you to monitor finances and profitability. It should help to provide an early warning for when you might need to reconsider the plan.

So what goes into each?

It doesn’t need to involve oodles of paperwork, but it does need to be a concise, easy to follow strategy for your way forward that you can tweak over time. We recommend the plan being no longer than 4-6 pages for the business plan and 4 sides for the marketing plan. This should include:

Current Position. Where are you now? Your sector, your market, state of growth and future potential.

Future Changes. What changes will you face? Competitors, technology change, buying habits, legislation, stuff like that.

The ever popular SWOT. It may be a pain to do, but it does pay off in identifying what your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are.

Competitors. Now it might seem a bit weird to look at the competition but if you don’t know what they’re doing, how do you know how your product or service measures up? How are your competitors doing and how are they addressing the same issues as you, as far as you can tell?

What specific marketing activity have you tried or would like to try? This is the next heading. What’s worked well and what hasn’t.

‘The 4 P’s’. Standing for Product, Price, Place, Promotion, and for a service we can add in a 5th P for People. These make up your next headings and are fairly self-explanatory. The product is what you make or the type of service you offer. Price is how much it costs you to make the product and is where you can outline your pricing strategy. Place is where you sell it. And finally, Promotion is how you are getting your marketing messages out to your customer.

Finally, remember the Action Plan is the daily list to help your Marketing Plan objectives to be achieved. We all have different ways of creating an Action Plan but if you’d like to discover more listen to the podcast or get in touch to see how we may help you put together these all together.

So just to recap, the Business Plan is the blueprint of your business, what you’re going to do and how. The Marketing Plan is the activity and strategy for taking your product or service to market, and the Action Plans are the elements of action you’re going to do to make it all happen.