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The Parts of a Marketing Plan

As you know, the earmark of a good design concept involves two elements
working in tandem—original thinking and strategic planning. These same two
skills you’ve already developed as a designer are equally applicable when it
comes to writing your first marketing plan.
Marketing plans don’t all look the same. They come in a variety of styles
and lengths. Your first one should be a serviceable document that is easy to
follow, logical and organized in a sequential game plan for marketing your business.
Even a one-page plan is a whole lot better than no plan at all.
Most marketing plans have three common elements, as Cameron Foote
points out in The Creative Guide to Running a Graphic Design Business:
1) they detail the marketing mix, the what, when, and where of the various
activities; 2) they indicate what resources are required and what the cost of
them will be; and 3) they project what results can be expected and when.
Drafting Your Plan . . .
1. Activities. In the first section of your plan, generate (by brainstorming,
mind mapping, or creating lists as discussed on pages 16–17) the action steps
most likely to attract clients. Depending on whom you identified as your target
markets, you may need to send different messages to different audiences using
different media. To illustrate this point, imagine you’re setting up your own
shop. Let’s say you have prior design experience in branding for food manufacturers,
you enjoy producing corporate newsletters, and you’ll work with
start-ups on logos, signage, etc. Your activities could include creating a Web
site for yourself, sending out news releases announcing the launch of your
business, placing an ad in the yellow pages and/or local newspaper, writing a
prospecting letter to selected audiences, hosting an open house at your studio,
and making eight corporate sales visits a month.
Now think about your target markets. What activities will best reach each
individual market? And which choice of medium will you employ to accomplish
your purpose? Once you have generated a broad list of possible marketing
activities for each market segment, narrow your list down to what’s a) essential,
b) doable, and c) affordable.
2. Timelines. When you’re satisfied with a shortened version of activities,
next develop timelines. Since you’re just launching your marketing efforts, we
recommend you map out a year in advance. Later, as your freelancing business
lifts off, you can revisit this document and revise it as you see fit.
For now, we suggest one of two approaches. Divide the year into three
columns, labeled one to three months, three to six months, and six to twelve
months and slot in the activities. Another way to get your ideas down on paper
is to sketch twelve boxes (one for each month) and plug in the activities.
3. Budget. Assign an estimated price for each activity.
4. Projected Results. Finally, you need to set some reasonable outcomes that
you can expect to realize from each activity, which we call projected results. For
example, let’s say you send out a direct mail piece to five hundred people at a cost
of five thousand dollars. You project results of fifty calls and five new clients,
each of whom brings you ten thousand dollars plus worth of work. Now go
back to your list of activities and specify projected results for each of them.
A final word of caution: Once you’re satisfied with your written marketing
plan, post it where it will haunt you. Review it frequently to make sure you’re
on target. Amend it if and when changes need to be incorporated. The bottom
line is used graphic