Developing a Marketing Plan

marketing plan

Developing a marketing plan or strategy is an important part of any organization’s success.

Developing a marketing plan or strategy is an important part of any organization’s success. We’ve mentioned the importance of drawing up some sort of marketing strategy on this blog before, but, as can be a frustration with so many blogs offering up advice on the Internet, it’s one thing to tell people what to do and another to tell them how to do it.

So today, we’re going to look at how to make a marketing plan…sort of.

Since most of the readers of this blog are independent agents and any marketing plan you create will most likely only be seen by you, you probably don’t need to know (or care to know, for that matter) mundane details about formatting and layout (which can be quite subjective anyway). As long as you address these main components of any marketing plan, you should be good to go.

Situation Analysis
This is just a brief summary of your business and your role in the current market place. Even though you probably already know this in your head, actually writing it out will help you think about it in more concrete terms.

Identify Target Markets
Pick your primary and secondary (if necessary) target audiences. Research and write down any demographics and data about each audience. This will help you in the planning and development of advertising content.

Identify Market Trends
To use an analogy, imagine you are you and the market is someone you’ve been dating for a while. You want to make a serious, long-term commitment to the market, but you can’t until you know what its plans for the future are.

SWOT Analysis
SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. You need to identify strengths and weaknesses as they pertain to your business (in the corporate world, these would be internal strengths and weaknesses). Opportunities and threats are external factors pertaining to your business. Since that can be somewhat confusing, let’s clarify with some examples:

Strength: You have a wealth of marketing tools and the knowledge to use them effectively.
Weakness: You are a “rookie” agent.
Opportunity: The factory in your town laid-off a bunch of workers who will now need insurance.
Threat: Your town is already inundated with health insurance agents.

Set Goals
These should be general/more abstract. Where do you want your business to be at the end of the year? Do you want to be in the top 5 in sales for your agency? Do you want to be the “face” of health insurance agents in your town?

Identify Strategies
These should be more specific than goals, but not too detailed. For example, if your goal is to finish the year in the top 5 in sales in your agency, then your strategy might be to post 70K in AV/month.

Identify Your Yearly Budget
How much are you going to set aside for your business?

Marketing Mix
This is normally where you would set pricing for your product(s) and establish where you’re going to sell your product. Since a lot of that is pretty much already taken care of, all you have to worry about is how you will promote your product. Just give a brief overview of where and how you intend to promote yourself. For example: “I will use the Internet and local radio spots to promote my business.”

Identify Competitors
Know thy enemy! Try to be as specific as possible. If you’re selling locally, who are the other top agents in your town? Who are the big agencies you’ll be taking on if you sell nationally?

Layout Monthly Tactics
Alright, the real reason you did all of the previous jazz. Now that you have identified, evaluated, assessed, etc… all of the elements of your business and market, you can plan the real details of your operation. This is where you will plan your drip marketing campaigns, plan direct mail campaigns, decide if you’ll sponsor that youth sports team (I’ve never seen an independent agent do that) and so on. Tactics play into your strategy, which achieves your goals.

So there you have it- a crash course in strategic marketing planning. When it comes down to it, the purpose of doing this is really to organize your thoughts and help you develop a clearer picture of where you are, where you want to be, and how you’ll get there.

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