Without a doubt, every ship needs a captain and a clear vision of where it goes, as well as every business, needs a great Marketing Plan and knowledge of how it stands out from its competition.
Unfortunately, there is no one secret recipe for success that fits all and each business needs to find its own techniques and what works the best for them.
Despite that, there are some general rules which are important to keep in mind when building your marketing plan and in today’s post, we will cover the key ones you should consider.
What is a Marketing Plan?
Before we start it’s essential to understand what is the marketing plan and why do you need one. Generally speaking, it could be described as a strategic roadmap that guides your business to meet its marketing goals in the given time period. It could consist of smaller marketing strategies that are responsible for executing smaller short-term goals but, eventually, it comes down to meet its global business goals.
And here you might be asking, why do you need one? Well, let’s imagine a situation where we’ve created an Instagram account for our business because we thought that’s a trending platform and it will help us to reach all our customers.
Unfortunately, after some time passed we couldn’t find out why we don’t get any traffic to our website, we don’t have any results to show and we continue wasting our marketing budget on worthless advertising campaigns.
Well, that’s exactly why every business needs a marketing plan and without further a due let’s just dive into our top 6 tips on crafting one.
1. Set Clear Business Goals and Mission
Defining clear business goals and mission is a great way to start writing your Marketing Plan.
Having a strong brand mission is essential. It helps you to understand your ultimate business destination, boosts your team motivation, and keeps your customers inspired.
It’s important to mention that here we’re talking about marketing goals which could be defined as follows:
- Increase international brand awareness
- Launch new digital product which helps us to reach new markets
- Attract new customers from our competitors
After you’ve set up your goals, make sure to define the time frame you want to achieve them and set key performance indicators to track them.
Let’s say, that our goal for the next 6 months is to attract 20% more international customers and this way increase our global brand awareness.
2. Research your Market
To better understand the current status of the market, it’s important to do in-depth market research and analyze your competition.
To better understand your competitors it’s important to answer the following questions. What products do they sell and how they are different from ours? Do we know their business goals and what they are trying to achieve? What marketing techniques do they use to attract new customers and reach new markets?
Start by listing out your top competitors from various categories. Separate them into different categories from big to small size companies, operating in local and global markets. The following analysis statements might be helpful:
- Their mission
- Their product features
- Pricing model
- Their marketing and advertising strategies
- Years of operation
After analyzing this, you’ll better understand your competition and how they operate within the industry.
It’s one of the most popular business analysis techniques. It highlights our business Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
Strengths define what our brand excels at, such as our brand has a great online presence. Or perhaps our customer support is just amazing and everyone can’t stop talking about that.
Recognizing our business weaknesses is an essential step to understand where our competitors could be targeting us. Knowing this could help to focus on strengthening them. Let’s say that we’re so focused on production, that completely forgot about the research and development. In the meantime, competitors made a leap from us, and because of that, we might lose customers. The solution to this would be to spend more resources on R&D and gain back lost positions from our competitors.
The opportunities section should highlight what we’re good at and show possible opportunities to grow. Let’s say that one of our products is having great success in the current region. And eventually, we decide to expand and serve it in broader markets. The latter could be described as one of the opportunities.
The last section defines our future threats that might affect business operations that we don’t have control over. These could be described as new government policies that restrict our operations within the industry.
3. Have a Unique Selling Point (USP)
In today’s busy and saturated markets it’s easy to get lost across competitors and their products. That’s why it’s important to define your Unique Selling Point and how we’ll stand out.
To find out it we should review the previous market research section. Review what products your competitors sell, how they promote, and which are the best selling products. From here on it is easier to set aside ourselves from competitors and find what truly separates us. Eventually, that will help us to stand out and market our products as a better option from the competition.
4. Understand your Target Audience
This is an essential step in the Marketing Plan development for several reasons. First of all, our product can’t be suitable for everyone. Secondly, without knowing our target audience, we’ll be wasting tremendous resources of our budget.
In this step, we should define our target audience’s age, gender, location, job, and buying power. Create at least 3 different personas to better understand how your target audience might differ from each other. Look for repeating patterns that could be later used as a tool in your marketing campaign.
5. Define your Content Plan
After better understanding your audience and knowing their needs, the following step would create your Content Plan. It will help us to better see how and where we can reach our customers.
In Content Plan we should answer the following questions of What? Where? How Often? And what type of KPIs to measure?
What? In the following section, we should define what type of content we will be creating to reach our audience. It could be Youtube videos, podcasts, whitepapers, or even as simple as writing your blog page.
Where? After knowing what content we’ll be creating we should define which channels we will use to distribute our content. Trending social platforms are Facebook, Youtube, Spotify, Linkedin, Twitter, and Instagram. Before making decisions on where to post, we should reflect back to our audience and see where they spent most of the time.
How Often? It would be a challenge to write a blog every day, but that’s not impossible. In our plan, we should define how often we will be creating content. How it could be measured in quantity and how often it will be created in the x time period.
What are our KPIs? The plan is worthless without setting our Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Here we should set goals that eventually could be measured in numbers. Try to be specific here and set feasible goals, such as increase your social media traffic by 20%, organic traffic by 10%, or add 50 new customers to our email marketing list.
6. Set your Marketing Budget
Generally speaking, promotional work costs money and plays an essential role that cannot be ignored. Spending it to the left and right without any clear plan is the last thing you want to do and it might be very risky for your business. That’s why it’s important to have a Marketing Budget which defines limits of how much we can spend on promotion and advertising.
The marketing budget could be used not only for promotional reasons. Along the way, there might come various other expenses, such as buying marketing automation tools, buying software licensing, or even hiring a copywriter freelancer who will help you to craft capturing campaigns. All the following expenses are marketing-related and could be included within the Marketing Budget.
Lastly, the following plan should never stay static and it should be regularly revisited and updated, especially after viewing the first results from our marketing campaigns.
Contributors & their reponsibilities
Working in bigger marketing teams sometimes might become quite hectic, where it could lead to various confusions and missunderstandings to who is responsible for what and when it has to be done.
Without delving too much into the details here you could quickly describe the key responsibilities of your team. Try to answer who is responsible for the content creation, tracking the campaign progress, or just managing customers’ relationships.
Without a clear Marketing Plan, it’s quite hard to achieve great results and track your progress at the same time.
The best practice to start working on this plan is by defining your company’s goals and mission, this way we will understand better what drives us forward and keep us motivated.
Without a doubt, in-depth market research is an important one, where we analyze the market and define our competition. Here it’s important to find out what our competitors excel at, what products do they offer and what are the current market trends.
Defining your target personas lets us to better understand our audience’s needs and the best ways to approach them.
Creating a content plan helps us to keep track of what content and where we’ll be posting, and tracking our KPIs.
Allocating Marketing Budget it’s an important one as well, which ensures that we won’t mix our main budget with the money spent only on marketing-related issues.
Lastly, knowing your Unique Selling Point lets us find out how do we stand out from the competition and market ourselves through our uniqueness.
All in all, Marketing Plan should never remain static and be always revisited and updated accordingly to the market changes and received marketing campaign results.