5 Key Considerations For Creating A Marketing Plan
Creating a marketing plan can be an energy-intensive process that requires a skilled eye. Most small business owners have the industry expertise to understand their business and industry needs, but planning marketing strategy can seem like a daunting task. Knowing what you need is different from knowing how to write a marketing plan, let alone execute it.
Digital marketing plans can be equally as intimidating in a rapidly changing and increasingly present virtual world. Marketing templates are easy enough to find and just a quick search for “sample marketing plan pdf” or similar would surely turn up pages of results. But how do you know what marketing plan process you need for your business?
If you’re ready to take on the strategic marketing process and feel good about developing marketing strategies, we encourage you to do so diligently, carefully and with patience. Even marketing experts test new marketing business strategy with trial and error sometimes.
We’ve put together a list of the top 5 aspects of planning marketing strategy to consider for your own digital marketing plans.
First Thing’s First. Marketing Strategies Vs. Marketing Plans: What’s the Difference?
By now you’re read the terms “marketing strategy” and “marketing plan”. We’re here to help build your small business marketing plan, which is the series of actions you’ll take in implementing your overall digital marketing strategy.
Your strategy details which aspects of your business’s marketing efforts you want to focus on most, according to your goals, your clients’ needs, and industry trends. Digital marketing planning will help you determine the steps you need to get results.
Here’s What To Consider When Building Your Digital Marketing Plan:
Consider Where You Are. First and foremost, you need to take a thorough, objective look at where you are as a business. How is your current online audience engagement? How is your revenue stream and cash flow? Are you reaching the potential clients you’re trying to reach?
If not, no problem. Pinpoint exactly what’s going on within your business, as well as with your brand representation in the world. If you’re not where you want to be, set a goal.
Consider Your Goals. This is where you have an opportunity to use different marketing methods in developing a marketing strategy that can help your small business continue hitting its goals.
Your business goals might be something like doubling your revenue over the next 5 years, or growing your brand awareness across social media channels. Your goal might even be to allocate more of your business revenue to the charity of your choice, or to reach more community members with free services. Your business, your brand, your rules.
There are some rules for effective goal setting, no matter what your goal is. Make sure your goals follow the SMART method, so that you create results that you can analyze, in order to measure success. The SMART method helps create goals that you’re more likely to achieve and follow through on:
- S: Specific
- M: Measurable
- A: Achievable
- R: Relevant
- T: Time-Bound
Specific goals with specific deadlines that have measurable results, make sense for your business, and are within your reach are destined to succeed. Use the SMART method for all of your business and personal goals for higher achievement rates.
Not Sure What Your Goal Should Be? Consider The Client First.
Maybe you’re not sure what your next objective should be. Your business might be growing and you might be satisfied and fulfilled with your current revenue and pace of growth. So what about your clients?
If your customers aren’t happy, that sense of fulfillment might not last long. Consider the possibility that you could be missing something, and check in with your customer base.
Customer feedback and other surveys can help you better understand the level of satisfaction your customers have with your service or product, and how to improve it. Understanding other data like your customer return rate and average length of time a client spends on your webpage can also help.
Another “must” is creating and understanding your business’s buyer personas. Who are the people interacting with your brand, and for what purpose?
Why is this important? Take the example of the widget factory.
Assume that your widget factory has been increasing revenue and value steadily over its first year, as more and more customers become aware of your business and try your product. But maybe your widget is designed to be worn on the wrist, and your customers are primarily attaching it to furniture at home and entertaining their pets with it instead.
Why does this matter? Because if you’re a good entrepreneur, you’ll want to keep your clients’ needs met. You might also want to optimize your product in the future, or will face challenges and new opportunities in the materials you’re using to build it. If you start making a widget optimized for bigger wrists and table legs start getting smaller, you’re doomed. You might also be missing out on a massive audience of pet owners, who could be your primary customer demographic. There are lots of reasons why knowing your audience and their needs is important.
Consider The Market and Your Close Competitors.
Who else is doing just what you’re doing, and how are they doing it? Understanding your competitors strengths and weaknesses can not only help you determine market trends and the future of your industry, it can help you build on your own strengths and stand out from a crowded market.
FInd great ideas, recognize gaps in the market, and build a plan that can help you grow in accordance with the industry, the market, and your online ecosystem. Comparing your competitors can also help you recognize your own opportunities to better manage parts of your business and brand.
Consider The “7 Ps” Of Marketing
You’ve done all the research, crunched the data, and are ready to set a plan into action. What else do you need to know?
Well for starters, there are a lot of strategic marketing approaches the small business owner can benefit from, especially if your business is new or this is your first attempt at a marketing plan. Some businesses will benefit from a multi-dimensional approach, or a complete rebrand. Others might require changes in a few specific areas, like social media marketing.
Whichever the case, a tactical marketing mix that considers the 7 Ps of marketing is the best approach. The 7 Ps are different, controllable aspects of your business that you can adjust to meet your clients’ needs. They are:
- Product- What you’re selling and how you’re marketing it
- Price- How much you’re selling your product for
- Promotions- How your making your products visible online
- Place- Where your product is seen, shopped, distributed, manufactured
- People- How are your customer service and employee professionalism?
- Processes- Efficiency and user experience in delivering your product
- Physical Evidence- Everything your customers see when interacting with your business. In digital marketing, this includes virtual touchpoints.
Set Your Plan Into Action (Test) and Monitor Your Results
When you’ve created a plan that is tailored to your individual business goals and client needs, Get organized, set deadlines, and test your plan.
Make sure you’ve chosen specific, measurable, time-bound goals, so that you can monitor the success of your marketing plan. A good plan might get tossed in the trash if you don;t wait long enough for results, or if you don’t know how to measure those results. Be patient and trust the process.
When To Make a Change
If you’ve created a plan and subtasks within that plan that are measurable, you’ll see changes in user engagement and revenue over time. How much time depends on the approaches you’ve chosen. For example, social media engagement might be easy to monitor, but can take time to build traction.
Different aspects of your marketing plan will take weeks or months to start returning data. Be patient and don’t wait until your revenue or engagement have taken a downturn before you start building a plan. Results take time, and the best data analytics can consider both short term and long term results.
I you’re feeling overwhelmed in the planning process, aren’t sure how to approach the marketing strategy process, or got mixed up with some faulty business strategy templates, don’t worry.
A good marketing team has the experience and background to get you back on your feet in no time