That’s why we’ve written this guide, to give you a simple marketing plan template that you can follow to get more customers and save time planning your marketing efforts.
How is an effective marketing plan made?
As we’ve already mentioned, planning is the key to your marketing success. One really effective marketing model we think can help you is the PASTA model. It’s a 5-step guide that helps you first outline your marketing goals, then helps you shape your overarching strategy and activities. Let’s take a look at the model in a bit more depth.
The PASTA Marketing Plan
The PASTA acronym consists of these 5 parts:
- Problem definition
As you can see, it’s a fairly simple methodology and that’s why we think it’s a great marketing plan template for SMEs. It helps keeps things simple! Marketing shouldn’t be time consuming, expensive or complicated.
Now let’s break down each step with a more in-depth explanation.
The first step of any marketing plan is to define what exactly it is you are trying to achieve. What are your goals?
Example goals could be:
- Increase sales
- Launch a new product or service
- Improve customer retention
- Improve brand perception
- Target new customers
When you outline the goals, you also need to consider potential barriers that might prevent you from meeting your goals. For example, if you’re launching a new product or service, are there competitors? If you’re targeting a new customer, are they easy to reach?
It’s also worth mentioning, that your marketing goals should follow closely to the overall business objectives.
For example, if your company’s objective is to be seen as the number one provider of a service in your local area, then your marketing goals need to be linked to improving customer perceptions and raising brand awareness.
The next step is to carry out research to identify the market, your customers and where your company sits in the market alongside your competitors.
We think there are 3-steps to carrying out good research as an SME:
Step one is to conduct a PESTEL analysis. Research the political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal factors that impact your business and the market.
Step two is to carry out some customer and competitor research. How large is your customer base? What are their needs and motivations? Are there demographic differences between different customer groups? Who are your competitors and what do they offer? This research will help you create different customer segments that you can target with different messages and through different marketing channels.
The third step is to bring it all together with a SWOT analysis. Do your strengths help you capitalise on opportunities and do your weaknesses create threats that you might need to address?
Your strategy outlines the overarching marketing plan. It has 4 elements:
- Target market – what customer segments are you trying to engage with?
- Objectives – what should your marketing achieve and what KPIs will you use to measure your success?
- Proposition – what are the key messages and values you want to communicate?
- Positioning – how will you differentiate yourself from competitors?
Remember to be specific when setting out your marketing strategy. By having a clear target audience and a marketing plan with specific messages, you’re more likely to create a successful campaign.
With a strategy in place, you then need to decide what marketing tools you need and which channels will be the most effective to reach your target market.
If an important channel for you is social media, do you have tools that schedule content or help you create adverts to target specific audiences?
If your website is a key channel, do you have the right analytics tools to track user conversions?
If the media and local news is a key channel, do you have the copywriting skills and media relations in place to carry out your own PR? If not, you might want to speak with a PR freelancer or agency.
Once you have the right tools and skills in place you can start your marketing campaign. Our recommendation is to create a 3-month activity marketing plan that outlines what activities you will be carrying out and when.
Here’s an example marketing activity calendar template you can download for free from Smartsheets!
Carry out your marketing campaigns and track your progress to make sure you’re reaching the objectives set. Keep refining what you do until it’s successful!
Need some extra help creating your making marketing plan?
Struggling with your marketing strategy? If your business is located in the Black Country, Shropshire or Herefordshire, why not join the Enterprise Action project and attend one of our free business workshops?
We host business development workshops to help you create your marketing strategy by getting your business ready for growth, helping you audit your business and plan.