Have you created a marketing plan for your Website? If not, it is time to think about developing one. An Internet marketing plan helps you make the right day-to-day and long term decisions. Without a marketing plan it is more likely your Website will be a drain on finances rather than a business builder.
Creating a marketing plan need not be scary or difficult. It does not require a marketing degree or a lot of experience. You do, however, need to put some quality time into writing your plan. There are different ways to write a marketing plan one of which is to create a marketing plan outline (or single summary page) through a five step process.
5 Steps to Creating a Marketing Plan
Those five steps are:
1. Gather and Analyze Information
2. Verbalize Your Main Challenge(s)
3. Develop Your Website Objective(s)
4. Create Strategies
5. Choose Marketing Programs
As you create your marketing plan fill in the knowledge you gained while developing the five steps.
Step 1: Gather and analyze information.
You will need information about your company, competitors, customers, and other industry players to reference while creating the plan. This includes all you can find about how the Internet is currently being integrated in your industry with respect to products, promotions, pricing structures, and distribution channels. From this information, you can complete industry and SWOT analyses as well as identify your target customers.
Step 2: Verbalize your main challenge(s).
Write down the main Internet related challenges you want to overcome as a result of your plan. Referring to these main challenges will help keep you focused while creating your marketing plan You may even want to write your challenges down in question form – “How do we _____________?”. When your marketing plan is completed, it will answer the question “How do I address these challenges?”
Step 3: Develop your Website objective(s).
The objective addresses the “big picture”. Your objective answers the question “How will I overcome my main marketing challenge(s)?” in broad, general terms. If your company’s main site-related challenge is figuring out how to use your Website to help build client business, for example, an objective for your Website marketing plan could be “To enhance online client service as well as build site awareness and interest with clients.”
Step 4: Create strategies for the marketing plan.
Strategies support your objective, defining the general approaches you will take to meet your objective. For example, strategies to support the objective outlined in Step 3 could include 1) improve online communication, information, and education, 2) build awareness of and interest in your company on the Internet, and 3) communicate the Website’s existence and advantages to existing clients.
Step 5: Choose marketing programs (tactics).
Marketing programs are where the action takes place – these are the things you will do to bring your strategies to life. Marketing programs to support strategy 2 in the above example (improve online communication, information, and education) could include 1) sharing experience and observations in your industry through participation in discussion boards, 2) offering an email newsletter, and 3) listing/submitting your site to targeted search engines and directories.
The Write Up
Once you have created a marketing plan summary by working through the five steps, there are numerous ways to create an expanded write up. If you are a company employee, there may be existing format and content you must follow. You can find some write up suggestions in “What to Include in Your Marketing Plan Write Up” at http://www.websitemarketingplan.com/Arts/WritePlan.htm [out].
After the initial plan is created, you should treat it as a work in progress. Tweak and adjust as needed in response to changing conditions. Many companies update marketing and business plans annually when developing budgets for the coming year.
Whether you are a one-person shop or part of a good-sized company, having a Website marketing plan can help your business prosper on the Web.