What I admire most about start-ups in the UAE is that entrepreneurs are realising how important it is to have a proper strategy and marketing plan in place. They appreciate the need for a long-term vision and do not live each business day as it goes by.
A marketing plan is a process that highlights the business’s marketing efforts and activities for the upcoming year. Some companies work on a quarter-by-quarter basis, while others prefer to have a yearly outline. The purpose of the plan is to attract new customers and retain current ones.
Not every plan will be great. As many startup entrepreneurs turn to consultants, or agencies to aid them with that aspect, it is good to have a look at what qualities a good marketing plan should have. Once you have those qualities in mind, it would be easy to tell apart a good marketing plan from a not-so-good one. I will refer to an abaya boutique as an example of a startup business.
When drafting a marketing plan the first question I ask my clients is who their target audience is. The more defined the group the better. In this exercise we consider everything from age, demographics, interests, spending habits, to social media platforms they are tuned into. The thing is that no matter how “generic” your product may seem you cannot target everyone. So the abaya boutique business in our example would not suit everyone’s taste, and even if they do wear abayas, they might not be interested in the designs the boutique sells. My clients and I always narrow down this aspect first, and decide on who we are targeting with this plan, because everything else in the plan would be based on that.
Secondly we look at the product, and evaluate it to see if it would actually be of interest to that specific target audience.
For instance, if the abaya boutique is targeting affluent, fashion-forward women between the age of 18-30 then everything from the design, quality of fabrics, to boutique experience, packaging, and customer service provided should reflect that.
We then would work on our marketing objectives and set some measuring tools and a time frame. Would this be a one-year or a five-year marketing plan? When writing down the objectives, they have to be narrowed down just like the target audience. Avoid using objectives such as: “Providing women with beautiful hand-made garments.” Yes, you would be doing that, but how would you measure that objective? Every marketing objective should be measured in order to check whether you have achieved your target or not. So in the case of the abaya boutique, a good objective could be: “To reach Dh500,000 in sales by December”, or “To attract 20 new customers every month to be added to our database”. This way you could see how your business is doing, and if your marketing efforts are helping you reach that target or not.
Finally, you need to keep in mind that a marketing plan is not a static document but a dynamic one. Even if you set it for one year that does not mean that you do not review or amend it in any way before then. The market conditions could change. A slump in the economy could cause you to review your prices, and amend your sales target. I would suggest conducting regular meetings to discuss your marketing plan, evaluate what has been achieved so far, and figure out ways to achieve your goals faster.
To do so efficiently, I would suggest delegating specific tasks or goals to different team members. When finalising the plan, discuss it with your team and explain how everyone is responsible to deliver certain tasks. Dividing the tasks and giving each member an area of focus would help you achieve your business targets faster and more effectively.
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @manar_alhinai