As any marketing professional will tell you, a Marketing Plan is an essential for any  business. Yet, according to Hubspot, as many as 50% of professional service SMEs don’t have one. 

In the professional services sector particularly, marketing has changed. In decades gone by, many professional service SMEs could rely on networking, sponsorshing the right events, a bit of local advertising, and even their Yellow Pages listing.

 But these days, potential clients want reassurance, and confidence in the value that you’re going to offer. Plus, the digital world that we live in has opened up a whole world of choices, which means more opportunity, but also more competition.  

Does your business have a marketing plan?

To make the most of those opportunities, and stand out from your competitors, your SME needs a strategic 360 marketing plan that clarifies your goals, defines achievable and measurable results, and sets out tactics; the what, when, how and why in order to support your growth goals and targets.

Successful professional services businesses aren’t there by luck. They are actively marketing themselves as brands that appeal to and connect with their target audience; demonstrating their knowledge, expertise, and professionalism but also offering their potential customers a clear view of how they are different, and communicating a personality which appeals (people buy people like them). Effective marketing goes far  beyond a simple statement of ‘what you do’. These days, customers (whether we’re talking about B2B marketing or B2C, and the lines are very blurred nowadays) want to feel an affinity with the brands they choose to buy from, or to work with. 

Creating your Marketing Plan

A thorough Marketing Plan provides a detailed account of your whole business and covers all the marketing mix. From business background and finances to target market, brand vision and communications strategy, to customer profiles and everything in between.

Many business owners opt to work with a marketing professional, as an external viewpoint (not to mention decades of expertise) is invaluable. But if you plan to do it yourself, here’s our step-by-step guide:

1. Prepare the groundwork for your Marketing Plan

Start by setting out your business in detail, from the business background to the products and services you supply. Run through all the touch points with a short paragraph for each, covering:

  • Target Market
  • USP
  • Pricing & Positioning
  • Communications Strategy
  • Conversion Strategy

This forms the Executive Summary that gives any reader a short, sharp overview and history to date of the business.

2. Focus in

Now start to drill down into the specifics, focussing on where you want your business to go. 

What are your business objectives? Set out your short-, medium- and long-term goals. Who is your target market(s)? You need as much detail as possible here, bringing them to life by creating customer avatars. 

What does your dream client look like? And why do they choose you over your competitors?

3. Get Set, Review

List out all of the on and offline marketing activity you currently have running, as well as anything that you have done in the past. 

List the results, from sales and new business pipeline down to the number of social media followers, and reviews you have etc. to get a feeling for where you see the most interactions and new business come from. 

Use this information to help you shape the creative ideas and strategic planning areas for future content planning.

4. Drill Deep 

Now list out all of the areas of the marketing mix — all the different communication channels and opportunities —  that your business could use. This is where understanding your target market, and where they tend to hang out is particularly crucial. There’s no point starting a TikTok account, for instance,  if your target market isn’t there. 

Think about all of the different opportunities that you have:

  • Distribution Plan
  • Conversion Strategy
  • Referral Strategy
  • Upsell Strategy etc.

How can you use your network to get recommendations? 

Can you use your past clients for case studies, partner with 3rd parties for linked campaigns, promote offers, discounts or loyalty campaigns

5. Money Matters

The most important part of the Marketing Plan are the KPIs, or as near to this as you can get. 

How much is your marketing costing you, and how much revenue is it generating? 

The Financial Projections section comes at the end of the plan and should be updated as and when data permits. Going forward this section should shape the investment for the following year’s plan.

In Summary

Your marketing plan needs to be regularly reviewed and updated. You’ll need to record the results of your campaigns and update your objectives. 

We usually recommend a monthly marketing review, with a quarterly strategic marketing plan review. Only then can you really see the results of the plan and start to accurately plan for the future.

At The Marketing Associates we specialise in providing strategic freelance marketing support for professional services, delivering excellent quality advice on your marketing strategy to develop and grow your business.

If you would like to discuss your business’s marketing requirements and could use an outsourced marketing consultant, please contact Tabitha Beasley at The Marketing Associates: tabitha@themarketingassociates.co.uk or call 01233 720379