Now that we’ve defined what a marketing strategy is, it’s time to map out your marketing plan. Learn below how you will meet those business goals and align them with your marketing strategy by creating a comprehensive marketing plan.
As previously discussed, a study by Smart Insights revealed that only 17% of brands have their strategy “defined in a separate document”. That means nearly two-thirds of marketers do not have a marketing strategy aligned with their marketing plan.
Why does this matter? That leaves you and your job vulnerable to your competition. And when you are stuck in “product launch hell” each quarter or your marketing teams are not aligned and are un-organized, you increase the number of challenges within your marketing department. Problems like consistently a lack of budget, having to explain marketing initiatives to partners and executive management, staying on top of the online marketing trends, and staying up to date on the competitive activities in the channel.
Doesn’t this sound all-to-familiar? Let’s end your pain today.
Begin creating your marketing plan by answering the following questions:
Target Customers Questions
- What does your ideal or target customer look like? Who are your buyer personas?
- Not sure? Gather insights from platforms like Google Analytics, social media channels, customer reviews, channel partners and your direct conversations with your customers.
- Create buyer personas so you can understand who they are and what they are interested in.
- What are their demographics (use in social media advertising)?
- Data includes location, age, gender, interests, education level, job title, income, relationship status, language, favorite brands, websites, motivators, detractors.
- You want to make this as accurate as possible to make sure you are targeting the correct customers. Who are they? What do they want or need? Why you?
- What does your current customer look like? Which of your customers are most profitable?
- How will you group or segment these customers based on their attributes?
- How does your strategy align with the strengths and weaknesses of these customers?
Business Objectives Questions
- Determine whether you are a sales-driven organization OR building a brand with content marketing. This is important.
- What are your business objectives and marketing goals? Some examples:
- Grow your email list by 10% in 6 months
- Increase brand awareness on social media by launching a campaign
- Improve engagement rates on social media profiles by 10%
- Optimize conversion rates on-site and reduce cart abandonment rates
- All goals should be specific, measurable and have an applicable time frame for completion.
- How will you sell to existing customers? What is your upsell or premium offering?
- What is your marketing budget? This needs to cover social media, content marketing, brand marketing, research, and advertising.
Marketing Plan Objectives Questions
- What is your unique selling proposition or value proposition? What separates you from the competition? How and why are you different?
- What do you define as success? How will you monitor and evaluate the performance of your marketing activities? Benchmarks?
- What will your marketing tactics be “marketing mix” to meet these target customers? Ex: Social media, advertising, trade shows, public relations, channel promotions, retail or in-store engagements.
- Create a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) to identify marketing opportunities
- Strengths: customer service or return process, perks and benefits program, product knowledge and training in retail and events.
- Weakness: Limited budget, no established brand, internal processes.
- Opportunities: Large total available market (TAM), exploring new channel or retail opportunities, sell directly to consumer, product marketing insights for improvements.
- Threats: Lack of speed by teams, innovation cycles by competitors, costs of goods sold and overseas manufacturing, economical and socio-economical challenges.
- Who is your competition? What are they doing?
- How will you distribute your products?
- What is your customer loyalty program? Are there any incentives?
- What are your current retention rates?
- Hold conversations with your partners in retail, channel, and events. What do they need? Where are there gaps?
- Where are your customers online? Which social platforms? Online forums? Where and how frequently do they buy online?
- What is your customer journey? Do you have a blog? Do you have videos? Are you using Youtube as a repository rather than a search engine?
- What type of content marketing do you have planned?
- Email marketing, infographics, videos, podcasts, case studies, user-generated content, courses, contests, giveaways.
- How will you distribute your content?
- Your content needs to be aligned with your buyers’ journey
- What are their ads, where are they advertising?
- Use mention.com to search on your competitors, understand their experiences, positives, negatives, and their sentiment.
- Check their SEO with tools like Ubersuggest and identify top pages, keywords, and funnel that back into your content and website.
- What do your social media profiles say about your brand? What type of content are you posting and how often? In the US alone, 71% of online adults use Facebook. Social media is a thing.
Marketing Plan Benefits
- A marketing strategy provides a business with a competitive advantage.
- Maximize revenue and profits by having a strategy aligned with your marketing programs to help sell your goods and services.
- Discover new areas of growth by delivering a plan tailored to the needs of your customers.
- Use research and insights to help inform product or service improvements as well as identify your target customer.
- Get internal alignment across teams more easily.
- Create efficiencies and optimize your marketing budget with a centralized plan.
- More accurately track your return on investments.
- And last but not least, never do the following:
- Make assumptions regarding your customers, their needs, or demands.
- Completely ignore your competition. Heads in the sand will make you vulnerable.
- Do not compete on price, it’s always a race to the bottom and will erode margins. Understand and demonstrate your value.
- Never stop selling or prospecting new customers, even when the market is hot or mature.
- Don’t stop innovating or disrupting your industry, or you will go out of business.
In summary, taking a little bit of time to create your ideal marketing strategy and marketing plan will generate efficiencies throughout your entire business.
More importantly, it will cause fewer headaches for your teams and improve communications.
As you go through this exercise, remember my rule I call “S.O.S”. Specific, Organized (measurable & actionable), and Speed. Execute these quickly and rake in the benefits over your competition, or choose to be left in the dust.
Do you need additional help trying to create your marketing strategy or a marketing plan? Click here to learn more.