Marketing is a massive expense in any business. You pour what money you can into it and hope to get something back, no matter how small a return! True? Not at all!

Unfortunately most business owners understand marketing as being paid for adverts, which are expensive and have a doubtful success rate. However, this is not actually what marketing is all about.

To create a successful marketing plan for your business you need to follow five very simple steps. Yes, that’s right five … not fifteen!

In fact it’s so simple that you can create a successful marketing plan for your business while you enjoy a single cup of coffee. Follow these five simple steps next time you sit down to a cup of coffee and you’ll certainly be starting 2009 with a lot more focus and a clear plan of action:

1) Determine your business objective: Stop and think for a moment about what you actually want marketing to do for your business. You can’t create a successful marketing plan for your business until you understand what you want your business to achieve over the next 12 months. Perhaps you want to increase sales; improve profitability; change perspectives in the market place or to increase people’s understanding of what makes you different. It is the vital first step to creating a successful marketing plan … understanding the business objectives from the outset.

2) Define what makes a good customer: Next you need to carefully clarify your target market/s. Who is it that you want to communicate with? You need to first identify them before you can hope to attract or retain them as regular customers. It is important to be as specific as possible here so that you understand what makes them “tick”, how their buying process works and also what’s important to them during/after the sale’s is made.

3) Clarify your core message: You then need to be very clear on what you want to communicate to them. And you can’t do that if you don’t understand who they are and what’s important to them! To create a successful marketing plan you need to be able to concisely document what makes you different and why people should support your business. Once you’ve done this you need to go back to your target market and check that what makes you different is relevant and important to your target market, otherwise they won’t listen to your message!

4) Pick the right marketing tool: What tools will you use to communicate your core message, to your target market, in order to achieve the desired business objective/s. The marketing tools are a valuable last step as they drive the action and implementation side of the marketing plan. Whether you choose to use market research, public relations, advertising, sponsorship, direct marketing, sales promotion, personal selling, exhibitions, corporate promotional gift items or the internet to communicate your message to your target market, select the one where you control the message in its entirety and where the cost per person reached is the best option available.