Planning a marketing strategy for a business is no easy task. It requires research and careful examination of different factors affecting your business or company. To help business owners develop a cohesive plan, we have gathered recommendations from various professionals.
First, we have Megan Brown, the owner of MB Marketing.
After working with scores of businesses to develop and implement successful marketing plans, I've seen one major red flag indicating when a marketing plan won't be successful. Many businesses try to do too much with their marketing plan, overstretch themselves and end up doing nothing because it feels so daunting.
When sitting down to create a marketing plan, be reasonable with what you and your team are capable of doing. I've found it helps if you estimate how much time each task will take you to implement. One social media post a day might take 5 minutes, but a monthly newsletter could take 2 hours. Laying all of the time out can help put a realistic expectation on what you're able to do. Writing a new marketing plan is exciting, and businesses want to do it all, but few have the resources to implement it at once.
Another way to grow a more comprehensive marketing plan is to stair-step your approach, adding more channels slowly. Start with the most important marketing channels or ones that you do already. Then look at adding 1-2 each quarter to become comfortable with each channel in time.
If you still want to do more than your team has time for, consider outsourcing time-heavy activities or strategies that are outside of your team's core competencies. Many companies want to hire an intern, but interns are inexpensive for a reason. They are not experienced and may need a lot of guidance, which will also use employees' time.
According to Cary Hastings, Head of Content of Bonsai, execution should be as important as planning.
"The value of a marketing plan is in the execution. You can measure the worth of the marketing plan by the decisions that follow, the business it generates, and how well it's implemented. A brilliant marketing plan that is not executed is worth much less than a mediocre marketing plan carried out. Make sure you've allocated enough resources to accomplish your company's goals for the year. The size of your marketing budget will also depend on how much you have available to invest and how quickly you want to see results.
Once you have formulated your strategic objectives, you should translate them into goals and measures to communicate to your planning team. You want to set goals that convert the strategic objectives into specific performance targets. Effective goals clearly state what, when, how, and who, specifically measurable. Organization-wide goals are annual statements that are specific, measurable, attainable, responsible and time-bound. These are outcome statements expressing a result expected in the organization.
As per Lauren Cook-McKay, Director of Marketing & Content of Divorce Answers, several plan changes prove your strategy's adaptability.
You must communicate strategically to align your team. Results-driven communication narrows conversations and eliminates unnecessary meetings. Every communication should have a clear aim in mind. Every time you offer instructions, feedback, updates, and so on, including the how, where, when, and, most crucially, why.
Check-in frequently to ensure you're making progress toward your objectives. A weekly assessment of your goals, strategies, and action plans can help you determine if changes are required. Make a note of it in your calendar; weekly check-ins enable you to reevaluate your strategy in light of any progress, setbacks, or adjustments.
Brian Snedvig, CEO and founder of Jofibo, advises business owners to keep an eye on the plan execution.
I want any marketing plan I sign off on to be backed by specific objectives from my C-suite. It is impossible to create a marketing strategy until you know what you want to achieve, and I always start with a growth goal from management before crafting a plan around it. Aimless marketing that isn't informed by industry realities and strategic planning is a waste of resources.
Any good marketing plan recognizes that client behavior evolves and that these changes impact budget allocation. I try to think of a marketing plan as underpinned by a desire to help customers understand why they need to make a certain decision and buy our product. This decision is affected by many different variables, and I need to understand what they are, how they have changed from my previous campaign, and ideally, how they might change in the future.
The next recommendations are from Sam R., the owner of Reddiquette.
A marketing plan should spell out goals and justification. If done correctly, a marketing plan should include answers to questions like:
Here are some tips to successfully structure a marketing plan:
Although it sounds like a simple task, many marketers forget to establish what problem they're trying to solve for their customers. It would be best to establish the problem first because your marketing plan will solve it.
Evaluate your target audience, so you know precisely who they are and where and how to reach them. It can be tempting to jump straight into brainstorming promotion ideas but calculating the right mix of marketing channels requires knowing your audience.
Just as important as identifying the problem and audience is defining what makes your company different from your competitors. What do you bring to the table that no one else does? Is it the price, customer service, product, or mission/vision? Whatever your differentiator is, it's important to be consistent when creating marketing materials.
Key messages work best when they're short, catchy, and easy for people to understand at a glance. It's important to remember that your key messages don't need to be complicated to be effective.
After your key messages are set, you should set goals for measuring success (or failure). The best way to do this is by creating measurable goals that you can easily track to see if what you're doing is working or not.
Dan Skaggs, CEO of One Thing Marketing, advises focusing on a niche.
Here are some best practices to structure a marketing plan:
Before getting started, it is important to understand the business. And the best way to do that is through SWOT analysis. Define all the key areas of your business. What attracts customers to your business, what makes your customer attractive. Your strengths attract customers to your business; knowing these strengths will give you a huge marketing advantage.
Research your niche as much as possible. Knowing your target market will allow you to determine where you should advertise and how you should do it.
Dan Shepherd, the owner of VEI Communications, wants business owners to focus on consumers' needs.
When planning a marketing strategy, it's all about understanding the consumer. When identifying your target audience, try to use the demographic criteria that are most relevant to your business. For instance, if you operate an online business, the Internet usage data will be more relevant than population statistics.
A good marketing strategy will start with a business analysis, assessing what exists and what needs to be changed. What matters the most is how well you understand what customers value the most and how that fits in with the brand's objectives, vision, and values.
You need to follow the strategy of Think Big, Act Small, and Start Slow when formulating the marketing strategy. It would be best to start with a clear vision of what you want to achieve, break that down into the smallest level of tasks, and start working on them one at a time.
Sophie Bowman, the Branding Guru from Brand Branding PR LLC, says it's either you go big or stay small.
It takes several key ingredients to whip up the rewarding marketing recipe for success. Firstly, you need to figure out the main objective of your strategy. Is it to build brand awareness, build your email database, increase sales, or all the above?
Next, you need to add a generous helping of added value to your followers via a giveaway of your products or services or collaborating with other brands to offer major giveaways together. The most important element of a marketing strategy is to have a method to convert your social media followers to customers; otherwise, your marketing efforts are futile. Think conversion, conversion, CONVERSION!
Lastly, challenge the status quo. Go big or stay small. Customers are crying out for cutting-edge brands they can resonate with that they want to be a part of because they're not afraid to go against the grain.
The mentioned recommendations in this article prove that planning should be as important as execution. Regardless of how powerful the execution is, if the strategy does not target the right niche and audiences, it would be of no help at all. We hope you get some good advice and good luck with your endeavor!