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When you study for the Chartered Institute of Marketing Diploma (which I have), they teach you the basics of writing a marketing plan (which I have done many times).

I have to be honest. It’s SERIOUSLY dull.

Trudging through a CIM approved-type marketing plan is hard work.

Inside one of those plans, it’s true, you will get all the vital things that you need in order to roll out a successful marketing strategy, such as Product Audit, SWOT analysis and the like. But, the acronyms and the dry content that you are taught to create as part of this voluminous document render it unreadable for anyone besides those who are using it as a case study to prepare for next year’s exam.

In my early career I used the theory that I learned on the CIM Diploma to create marketing plans for my company. My colleagues were all wildly impressed. I felt good and ‘proper’. These great tomes were widely admired (mainly for their thoroughness), before being saved in a little used corner of the corporate network, never to be seen again.

When I do marketing plans for my clients now, they aren’t in this hard-to-manage, never-to-be-read, overwhelming format. I still include the vital pieces, but what I give my clients is a highly practical, and most importantly, short document. I do complete the competitor analysis, market research, etc – I have to so that I have something on which to make my recommendations. But, this texty, lengthy information is positioned firmly in the appendix at the back.

I want my marketing plans to be living, breathing documents, that get updated and are used as reference. They rely on graphics to communicate the plan. And, hopefully, they are never consigned to the digital equivalent of room 101.

If you are interested in the skeleton structure of the CIM approved marketing plan, check out their website. But there are three things, above all others, that I recommend you should be sure to include in your marketing plan.

  1. Your company’s position in the market place. We all have competitors, and that’s fine. But how are you positioned in comparison with them? Choose the criteria on which you most prefer to be compared. Are you better value? Offering a more thorough service? Friendlier? Only delivering your service to a certain segment of the market? If all of your competitors are crowded into the same area of the market as you, use your analysis of how you compare on these criteria to identify an underserved niche in the market. Then, change your messaging to promote yourself on those values.
  2. Exactly who your dream client is. Not just ‘female business owners’, but the stage of their evolution they are at. Are they business owners of start-ups or established businesses? Do they have a team? Do they work all hours or strictly 9-5? Are they modern or traditional businesses? Do they network? If so, where? You’ll find lots more advice on creating this section of your plan here.
  3. The customer journey. This is critical. It’s key to think about the way that customers interact with your business in this way. How do individuals go from being a total stranger to becoming a raving fan who glowingly recommends you to their friends? Typically, a customer moves through several different stages of knowledge about your business: awareness, interest, evaluation, trial, adoption and loyalty. You need to have a plan for each stage, how you interact with customers at each stage and how you move them through to the next stage.

I’d love to help you design a marketing plan for your business. If you’d like to find out more and get a first sketch of what this could look like, sign up now for a free marketing review and I’ll give you my top three recommendations for your business straight away.

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