People frequently forget the main purpose of marketing: communication. Marketing allows you to communicate to your future and current customers: who you are, what you do, and what you can do to benefit them. You should never be complacent in your marketing approach. Afterall, with the way technology has advanced today, a small slip up in your marketing can become global news in mere seconds. Social media is the new medium which delivers news across the internet – so having the correct marketing plan is key to delivering the correct and accurate message for your business. At the heart of any businesses growth strategy should be their marketing plan. If you have a business but no marketing strategy you’ll soon find yourself in trouble. With no idea who your customers are how can you promote and improve your products to a wider market? For my own company, Diva Cosmetics, we achieved a £1 million turnover in one year, and I believe that this phenomenal success has a lot to do with how I marketed my business. Knowing who my customers were meant I could really market to them in a way that made my product essential for them. Here is my 4 step process to creating an effective marketing plan: 1. Define Your Goal Do you know the overall outcome that you want to achieve? Making money is a given, but how about raising your company’s profile, increasing your mailing list, data capturing? Marketing can lead to all these things and more, so make sure you know your goal and then you can set about working towards achieving it. 2. Define Your Strategy Identify your target audience before taking another step. You cannot devise any marketing strategy before knowing exactly who your customers are. Create personas of your typical customers – from who they are, to how you can connect with them. Discovering everything about your target audience will produce results that are exciting and promote customer loyalty. 3. Define Your Tactics Now you know who your typical customers are you can devise the most effective way to market to them. How familiar are you with the various marketing tactics? Online advertising, networking, search-engine-optimisation, direct mail, offline advertising and PR campaigns are but a few ways which you can reach out to your potential customers, but which one will yield the best results for your target market? If this part really is the highest hurdle for you, don’t struggle alone, take guidance from a marketing agency or consultant. 4. Define Your Budget Ensure that in your business plan you have allocated for annual marketing. Keep a close eye on this as it is easy to get carried away. It is a very good idea to closely monitor each campaign so you can identify the most cost effective form of marketing and put more energy and time into it. Consider and identify what you are able to do with little or no expenditure. Social media was mentioned earlier, harnessing this medium can reap dividends, and is mostly free to participate in. Also consider joint ventures – other companies are in the same situation as you – creating trusting, working relationships with these companies may also be extremely beneficial. Marketing really doesn’t have to be expensive – but it does require a lot of planning to be effective. Don’t let this idea of planning put you off, as once you see a campaign being extremely successful, raising your company’s profile as well as bringing in more business, you will be extremely glad you became methodical and organised in your approach to marketing.