Whether a business is at the beginning stages of putting together a full business plan or simply wants to increase volume and reach more customers, knowing how to write a marketing plan is a must for entrepreneurs as well as small and large business owners. A marketing plan not only lays out plans for marketing and advertising step by step, but it also helps business owners to understand their businesses, their existing customers, and their target market better as well.

The first step in writing a marketing plan is research. A business must conduct research to determine who comprises its target market. This may involve re-examining the business itself and its existing clientele. Business owners should ask themselves exactly what kinds of customers they want to attract and what the business will offer those customers in order to attract and retain them.

The next step involves creating the plan itself. In this step, the business’s owner or manager will likely want to consult with a marketing company. The plan should detail who composes the target market and how the business plans to reach this market, such as via social media, a content strategy, direct mail campaign or other marketing method. The marketing plan should include the costs of any strategies the business plans to implement. It should also describe how the business plans to track results. For example, a direct mail campaign could offer a coupon, and the store can track how many new customers the campaign brings in by tracking how many coupons come back to the store for redemption.

A good marketing plan has measurable goals as well a time frame for achieving them. This makes it possible to evaluate the success or failure of any given marketing plan or strategy once it’s been implemented. Plans should detail how much increased volume the business plans to generate as well as when it expects to reach this benchmark. This allows for greater overall, long-term success for the business because it makes clear if marketing efforts work or not. If a particular marketing strategy fails, having a detailed marketing plan allows the business owner or manager to analyze what went wrong and make changes before implementing the next strategy.