Having a marketing plan plays an important role in the long term success of any business. An effective marketing plan will help to keep you ahead of your competitors, increase your customer base, and, ultimately, grow your business.

In essence, your marketing strategy explains where you want to get to and your marketing plan is the roadmap that will get you there. To be effective, your marketing plan should set clear and achievable goals, assign resources efficiently and establish realistic time scales.

To help you to develop an effective marketing plan for your business, below are our tips about what to include.

Objectives: What are your overall business goals? What do you want the marketing plan to achieve?

Products / Services: What are the products and / or services you offer or want to offer your customers?

Customers: Who are your current customers and / or potential customers? Why do they / should they buy your products and / or services? Create different customer groups by types / needs / wants.

Competitors: Who are your competitors and / or potential competitors? What are their similarities and differences? What are their strengths and weaknesses?

Unique Selling Proposition (USP): What is different about what you offer compared to your competitors? What makes your products and / or services stand out?

Pricing & Positioning: How do / will you price your products and / or services? Are your products / services high end or mass market? Are your products and / or services more or less expensive than your competitors’ products / services? Do you or are you going to offer discounts or special offers?

Sales & Distribution: How will you sell your products and / or services? Do / will your customers buy directly from you on your website or from your premises? Or, do / will they buy from distributors or retailers, etc.?

Promotion: How will your customers / potential customers find out about your products and / or services, e.g. PR, advertising in local press, direct mail, website, Twitter, Facebook, blog, email marketing, etc.?

Budget: How much money do you have to invest in the marketing of your products and / or services? How will you allocate your budget?

Activities Plan: How, where and when are you going to market / promote your products and / or services?