Marketing plan for business

How to Form a Successful Marketing Plan

Marketing plan for business

How to form a successful marketing plan

A good marketing plan is the pillar of any business marketing strategy.

It provides an honest view of the strengths and failings of your business, and ensures you consider the market as a whole; what your competitors are providing, and what customers really want.

It should outline all of the tools and tactics that you will use to achieve your sales goals, and act as a continual point of reference as to what it is that you are going to be selling, who will want to buy it and the strategies that you will use to achieve those all-important sales.

This article will show you how to write a thorough marketing plan including:

  • Situational analysis
  • Competitor analysis
  • Marketing goals
  • Marketing budget


Situational analysis

Before you start considering the future of your business, you have to look at its current position. A situational analysis enables you to investigate your firm’s position from new angles.

Simple questions, such as ‘what is your product?’, ‘what position in the market does your product occupy?’ and ‘what are your sourcing choices/options?’ force you to analyse in detail how your company is run, and whether you feel it is streamlined or not.

The SWOT analysis considers your business’ Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats; it is only by assessing the internal factors (strengths and weaknesses), that the external factors (opportunities and threats) can be considered.

SWOT can be used to make informed decisions, and as Linda Pophal, owner and CEO of Strategic Communications says, this is actually ‘…the area of strategy development where organizations have an opportunity to be most creative and where innovative ideas can emerge, but only if the analysis has been appropriately prepared in the first place.’


Competitor analysis

Competitor analysis inherent to situational analysis, but to really understand your market and prepare for changes, you need to understand your competitors. This can be achieved through a ‘competitor array’, an example of which can be seen below:

Key Industry Success FactorsWeightingCompetitor #1 ratingCompetitor #1 weightedCompetitor #2 ratingCompetitor #2 weighted
Extensive distribution0.462.431.2
Customer focus0.341.251.5
Economies of scale0.230.630.6
Product innovation0.170.740.4


A competitor array allows you to consider the factors most important in your industry, and then lets you rank your competitors based on these factors, showing you their strengths and weaknesses. A such you can perceive gaps in the market.

To predict the future strategies of your competitors, you may have to extend your analysis into what their strategies are and have been; try contacting suppliers, or former business partners of that company, but make sure that all information is obtained legally.


Marketing goals

Companies often set the bar too high or too low; a good situational analysis will help you pitch achievable goals. The key is not to overburden yourself; obviously you want to see growth in your company, but too many goals in your strategy, will spread your skills too thinly and dilute your strengths.

Shanelle Mullin, Director of Marketing at Onboardly suggests to ‘…choose 1-2 core goals that impact the bottom line and 3-5 supporting goals’. Your marketing plan should be for the whole year ahead, so break down these goals into daily or weekly targets. This will ensure the people working for your business feel a sense of achievement, and morale will stay high.


Marketing budget

To set a marketing budget, look at your company’s revenue, and be realistic about what money you have to spend. Issues to be taken into consideration include:

  • How quickly you want to grow, and by how much
  • Turnover and outgoings
  • Whether you are introducing something new to the market, or marketing existing products
  • How much your competitors are spending on the market.

While each business has its own budget priorities, market research suggests that firms should spend about 5-10% of their turnover on marketing (and this percentage should be higher on companies with a lower turnover).

As outlined by co-founder and VP of marketing at E2M, Pratik Dholakiva, measuring the effectiveness of your marketing campaign can be tricky, especially when trying to glean ROI from something as apparently ethereal as social media. Ultimately, all your strategies need to boil down to real numbers, especially where leads, profits and sales are concerned.

Among other key steps to take, Mr Dholakiva says it is important to keep ROI analysis simple regarding money in and going out so that you can place a financial cost of putting a new strategy in place. It sounds a no-brainer, but it’s easy to get bogged down in details and far more important to stay focused on the bigger picture.

Be sure to define your strategy and understand what you’re trying to do. Isolate the differences compared with previous campaigns, and work to improve those former strategies.

Furthermore, many marketing strategists fail to analyse to the right depth. While marketers may not have access to all company data to be able to account for a seemingly inexplicable peak in web traffic, an effort should be made to access all information available that could be used to glean insight. Consider what other factors are influencing revenue and traffic and integrate these into your model.

It is important to consider ways in which you can easily cut costs. Social media is an amazing way to market your business and is in many cases completely free; having a hands-on approach to social media will also allow you to keep your business relationships strong.


Using social media correctly

Coke is an FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) company, paving the way for social media innovation, their multi-faceted approach to guiding consumers back to brand is both inspirational and informative to any marketer.

Who can forget Coke’s ‘name-on-a-bottle’ campaign, which encouraged us to #shareacoke? Feeling in need of a friendship top-up, we dutifully searched for our names on our favorite soft drink bottles and Coke sales increased by 2.75% in the UK alone. The drive was recognised by the 2013 Cannes Lions as “the most successful campaign in decades.”

Creating a detailed but focused marketing plan for your company is hard work, and takes time. However, with one in place, you will be able to make smart, informed decisions and concentrate on the growth of your business.

Choosing a name for your business

How to choose a business name

Choosing a name for your business

How to choose a business name

One of the best things about starting your own business is being able to choose a name for yourself. But it’s not as straightforward as you might think. It’s something you have to get right, not just for legal reasons but for creating the right impression.

This article will show you how to choose the right name and what you’ll have to do to ensure you’re following the official rules, that’s whether you’re becoming a sole trader or limited company…

Giving the right impression

When choosing a company name, keep in mind that it will act as a first impression of your business. You want your name to convey the right feeling and message. That’s whether you’re trying to get across professionalism or something fun and different. It should also work across all mediums including your website, marketing and signage.

Consider pronunciation and spelling

Just consider how many times you’ll have to give your details out over the phone! Now think about your potential business name. Is it easy to pronounce? Will people understand what you’re saying? And is it easy to spell? Try to pick something that’s easy to say and write.

Reflect what you do

If appropriate, consider a name that reflects what you do. This will get across very quickly what your business is about to potential customers. It might also help in terms of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) where you can benefit from having a keyword or two in your name. But only do this if your business isn’t likely to change and offer different services in future.

Think about the future

Always keep the future in mind when choosing a name for your business. Are you likely to expand? Will you be providing additional services in future? Choose a name that can easily see you through the next 10 years. Don’t pick something that’s going to narrow your growth. You also have to choose something that won’t date easily, so avoid words and phrases that could easily go out of fashion.

Trading and corporate names

Did you know you can choose an official ‘corporate name’ but you can choose a ‘trading name’ to represent that corporate name? This means you can choose something quite corporate for your actual official name but create a trading name that’s creative, or shorter and sweeter. You just have to make sure you highlight your trading name/corporate name on all marketing materials, including your website.

Consider potential overseas hurdles

Are you going to be trading overseas? If so, check that your business name doesn’t mean anything offensive in any other language. You don’t want to limit yourself before you’ve even started, so double check meanings in other languages.

Check availability

So you’ve got a few ideas knocking around – the next important step is checking availability of your name ideas. Go on to the Companies House Web Checker to see if anyone else has already beaten you to it. And if you’re home-free, go on something like  1&1 Ionos to check that relevant domain names are also up for grabs. When purchasing domain names, it’s wise to buy something that not only has the ‘’ available but the ‘.com’ as well.

Names for sole traders

If you choose to become a sole trader, you’re allowed to operate your business under your own name but you can choose anything you like. However, there are some legal aspects to remember:

  • Your business name must not be offensive;
  • include any of the terms for public limited company (PLC) or limited (LTD) or LLP or their Welsh equivalents
  • or contain any sensitive words or expressions (i.e. there are certain words/expressions you’re not allowed to use unless you have official permission, for example ‘British’ and ‘Authority’).

Next, check that no one else is using your proposed business name. Bear in mind, that if a sole trader at the other end of the UK has the same name, there might not be an issue. But you could run into trouble if another local firm is using it. In which case, you should choose a different name. How do you check to see if someone’s already got your name? Look through phone books, use Google or simply use the most excellent Companies House Web Checker.

Things to consider for limited companies

If you’re forming a limited company you must register your name and any other relevant details with Companies House. Bear in mind, it’s essential your proposed name does not breach any rules on name endings, ‘same as’ rules or include a prescribed or sensitive work without prior permission. Here’s the rules so you don’t get stuck. You must ensure that:

  • Your name ends with ‘limited’ or Ltd
  • Your name isn’t offensive
  • Your name isn’t the same as anyone else in the index of company names (which you can check via the Companies House website)
  • Your name doesn’t include anything sensitive in terms of words or expressions… unless you’ve had official permission to use them.

Double check trademarks

Another important point is trademarks. You have to make sure your proposed business name isn’t the same or very similar to a registered trademark. Use this handy Company Name and Trademark Checker.

Displaying your business name

Did you know that every business must display its name and relevant details to show customers who they’re dealing with? If you’re a limited company, you have to display your registered name on all hard copy and digital correspondence and documents. This includes: letters, notices, emails, bills of exchange, invoices and even your website.

But what information must a limited company display? You must show:

  • the place of registration and your registered business address
  • the registered business number
  • whether it’s a limited company.

Please note, you’ll also have to display your VAT registration number on your business website.

For sole traders, you must display your business name, your own name and your business address in all areas, i.e. across all stationery, correspondence and your own website.

And that’s how you choose a business name. You’ll need to do this before anything else because if you’re opening a business account, they’ll want to see a letterhead with your business name and logo printed on it. Plus if you’re informing the Inland Revenue of your new business, they’ll need to know as well.