A marketing plan is the first step to create a successful marketing program for your enterprise.
Like driving without a roadmap, a business without a marketing plan has no systematic approach to promote its brand to the target audience.
Importantly, a good marketing plan doesn’t have to be complicated and expensive for it to work. It should be well researched and implemented robustly to have the most significant impact.
Here are seven essential components to include in your marketing planning process.
Carry Out SWOT Analysis
Having a snapshot of your brand’s current position is important. Situation analysis helps you identify what your brand is about, where your product or service stands in the market, and their unique selling point.
Start with an extensive audit of your industry to determine your market share and key competitors. Find out what your competitors are doing right and what they are doing wrong to help you improve your marketing plan and gain a competitive advantage.
A great situational analysis should give a quick overview of your brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Conduct Market Research
Research is the backbone of any successful marketing plan. Reports like Standard & Poors or IBISWorld could be a great starting point for your research. During your research, focus on identifying target consumer buying habits in your industry, market size, market growth, and current trends.
Ideally, good marketing plan research should also narrowly define your target market. For example, a restaurant’s market could be families, baby boomers, date nights, or busy and rushed commuters. Focusing on one niche, for example, date nights, allows you to tailor your marketing message to appeal to this audience.
If you are up and running, outline your sales funnel that current clients take to purchase from you. Determine the sales and marketing tactics that are working and the ones to tweak or discard.
Determine the Target Audience
Once you have narrowed down your target market, your next step is to get a detailed overview of who makes up that market. Creating a successful marketing plan requires a clear definition of the people you want to reach and convert to paying clients. Determine their demographics, needs, and preferences. This step will inform the strategies and channels you employ, your content direction, and your tone of voice. It also helps to determine your customer journey and critical touchpoints.
The customer journey is the buyer’s process before purchasing. It usually encompasses awareness, consideration, intent, and decision. If possible, go an extra step and create a buyer persona and determine the different places and ways your brand could interact with the target audience.
Create Marketing Goals
Once you have a clear grasp of your target audience, use your research to define your marketing goals. Marketing goals and marketing objectives should relate to your overall business goals. For example, a marketing goal could be to drive traffic to your website or increase lead generation, social engagement, or conversion.
Develop Marketing Tactics
With the target audience and marketing goals in mind, it’s now time to create robust marketing strategies and tactics. Typically, this is the heartbeat of your marketing plan that will influence how you reach your prospects and realize your goals.
Since you now know more about your target audience, create a strategy that enables you to reach them at different stages in their buying journey. Determine the channels and content that you can use to reach prospects in each awareness stage.
You should also find ways to tweak your marketing campaign so that it suits prospects already considering buying. While at it, determine the many touchpoints that you can harness, such as display advertising, investing in SEO, SEM, social media marketing, or email marketing.
Remember, your goal here is to identify customer touchpoints. Determine how to mix and match content and channels to create a marketing mix that will strengthen your marketing strategy for the best outcomes.
Create Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
CRM is an integral factor in maintaining loyalty once you achieve a sustainable number of customers. Luckily, there are a variety of marketing planning software solutions available that can handle CRM for your organization.
Marketing planning software allows you to carry on marketing activities in-house while keeping your marketing spend lean. If you are working on a tight budget, consider cost-effective and straightforward actions, such as offering warranties and return policies, to keep existing customers satisfied and assured about the quality of the product post-purchase.
Determine Your Budget
If you cringe at the idea of spending money on marketing, we get it. Going through countless marketing options with variable pricing can feel overwhelming. However, paying a small fee to net clients that could use your product or services for life is worth all that trouble and investment.
Consequently, a marketing budget is a critical tool for your organization at any stage. You need to invest time and money for your marketing plan to work. When creating a budget, prioritize strategies that pay off in both the short term and the long run and allocate an adequate budget for those strategies.
For each activity, establish a metric to determine success. Especially when working with a tight budget, monitoring metrics with each campaign will keep you on track to producing a sufficient ROI. This also gives you an idea of when to shift gears to avoid a loss or low ROI. As a general rule, expect to spend more when you are in the start-up phase than when you are up and running.
Develop an Implementation Schedule
An implementation schedule is a timeline that details what marketing action will be done when and by whom. A good schedule includes the cost of each marketing activity and how it fits into the overall budget estimates for the entire campaign period.
When creating a schedule, determine if you have adequate resources such as staff, time, and money to accomplish the given tasks.
If you realize you don’t have adequate staffing resources, you may consider onboarding a consultant to help coordinate the marketing activities. You can also hire remote, part-time staff to handle many crucial marketing tasks.
Develop Monitoring and Evaluation Tactics
At this stage, you should determine your monitoring and evaluation tools and processes for each of the marketing strategies you adopt. Monitoring and evaluating how effective your strategy is performing is an integral element that should not be overlooked during marketing planning.
To determine the value of a marketing campaign, you need deliberate and timely implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of results. Robust measurement tools help you understand whether your strategies are helping you meet your goals.
As part of the measurement plan, consider tracking your marketing success with ubiquitous business tools. For example, Google Analytics can help track website conversions or use an Excel sheet to compare your spending against the actual ROI.
It’s good practice to test your programs and strategies in 30 to 60-day periods. If you find your progress does not measure up to your expectations, you need to determine why and take appropriate action.
5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Devising a Marketing Plan
The current cut-throat competition in the online marketing space has forced brands to develop innovative marketing plans that put them ahead of the competition. To come up with an effective marketing plan, avoid the following mistakes:
Imitating competitors: The most obvious marketing plan is your competitors’ plan. It is easy to assume that their plans will work out fine for you since it works for them. However, this may not always be the case. Your brand should determine a unique selling proposition, or USP, that sets you apart from your major competition. All your marketing efforts should revolve around this USP.
Failure to test campaign performance: There’s more to success than just creating and implementing a marketing plan. Testing and analyzing your campaign is an integral part of any strong marketing plan. Test how your customers respond to your marketing efforts and what you can do to improve engagement. You should also do A/B testing BEFORE the campaign launch to maximize your campaign’s impact.
Not targeting repeat customers: Repeat customers are essential for any business. Studies reveal repeat customers tend to spend 15 percent more than new prospects. Also, repeat customers have a higher conversion rate at 70 percent compared to new customers, whose conversion rate stands at 20 percent. When creating a marketing plan, put in place strategies to market directly to existing customers for increased profit. You can incorporate direct marketing methods like emails.
Focusing on a broad audience: Targeting a broad audience that comprises everyone likely to use your brand can be a costly mistake. By focusing on a wide demographic, you risk diluting your message. Instead, create a specific customer profile and develop a marketing plan to best meet their needs. If you wish to target a broad audience, it’s often better to create different strategies tailored to each demographic.
Aiming for multiple outcomes: A marketing plan that attempts to achieve too many outcomes is doomed to fail. It’s foolhardy to aim at increasing engagements, acquiring new leads, and driving sales from one campaign. Narrow your goals down to one or two objectives and customize your marketing plan to achieve only that, focusing your efforts to attain the greatest success.
Research reveals organizations with robust marketing plans outperform competitors and penetrate new markets more than those with no or haphazard plans. Without a plan, there’s no direction for your marketing team and partners, which may result in uninformed decisions, miscommunications, and missed opportunities.
Whether you aim to create a traditional marketing plan or you’re looking to execute a multichannel digital marketing plan, the tips we have shared here will help you get started. Remember to constantly review and update your plans to respond to changes in customer needs and attitudes. Successful plans need focus, specifics, and flexibility.
At Welcome, we’re happy to you get started or answer any questions you may have. We feature an all-in marketing project management software that is free for any marketer to use. Ready to give it a try? Get started with a free Welcome account today!