Building a Marketing Plan: The Essentials

Posted by Jazelle Handoush on 03/12/20

Marketing for your company can be overwhelming and intimidating. When there’s a lot to do, people make a list, set deadlines, and start knocking items off one by one. But wait, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. According to a recent survey, marketers who plan their projects are 356% more likely to report success.

An effective marketing plan digs into the details, such as:

  • Your short-term and long-term business goals
  • The strategies needed to help you achieve those goals
  • The tactics that make up those strategies
  • The channels you’ll use for each tactic
  • The specific customers that you’re targeting
  • The competitors who stand in your way
  • Your budget
  • The expected results

Writing blog articles and sharing social media content is a part of content marketing, but what bigger purpose do these serve? With a marketing plan in place, you’ll know what business goals these tactics help you achieve. 

Here’s everything you need to create a marketing strategy and plan that drives results!

Putting Together a Marketing Plan

Identify Your Goals and Objectives

Before you start any journey, you need to know where you’re going. That’s where your goals and objectives come in:

  • Goals: what you hope to accomplish, like increasing sales
  • Objectives: measurable actions needed to achieve your goals

Your marketing goals should link back to your company’s overall goals. These are larger achievements expressed in terms of awareness, conversion rates, sales dollars, units sold, or marketing share. Objectives are measurable, time-based targets that can help you fulfill your long-term goals.

When outlining your objectives, keep it S.M.A.R.T:

  • Specific: form submissions/leads, calls, store visits, app downloads
  • Measurable: a percentage or quantity that you can calculate using your key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Attainable: set realistic benchmarks
  • Relevant: relate it to your goal
  • Timely: know your deadline

Here are a few examples of S.M.A.R.T objectives:

  • Grow our year-over-year sales for Product Z by 20% in 2021
  • Increase our website traffic by 6% by the end of this quarter
  • Generate ten new leads a week during our upcoming promotion

Defining your goals and objectives will keep you focused as you lay out the rest of your marketing plan.

Nick from Fable Heart Media writing a marketing plan on a chalk board.

Find Your Strategies

In a recent survey, nearly half of the businesses surveyed use digital marketing tactics without having an overall plan in place. If you can’t tie your actions back to a measurable goal, such as ROI, how do you know they’re working? 

Strategies pinpoint the reason why you’re doing something and your overall method to reach your goals. As you build out your strategies, ask yourself how you intend to accomplish your objectives, and think in broad terms. For example, let’s say you want to grow website traffic by 15% in Q3. Your strategy, in this case, might be to increase your organic search rankings by focusing on inbound marketing techniques that generate interest and drive targeted traffic back to your site. 

Now that you have a strategy, you’ll need to create a list of tactics to explain how you’re going to achieve your goals.

Choose Your Tactics

While strategies answer why you’re doing something, tactics get specific by pinpointing how. 

Tactics are specific, strategic actions that help you achieve your marketing goals. As you build your marketing plan, you also need to consider the traditional and digital tactics you intend to use. Let’s take a look at some of your assets:

  • Owned Media: channels that you control, such as your company’s website, social media accounts, imagery and photography, blog content, etc
  • Earned Media: the recognition you receive through PR, guest blogging, reviews, press coverage, or other people sharing your content
  • Paid Media: marketing channels you spend money on, such as billboards, flyers, social media ads, or Google advertising

Robust marketing plans use these various types of media in tandem to form a holistic path toward goal achievement. For example, you can use Google ads with a search engine optimized blog to build brand awareness for a specific product. At the same time, you can also guest blog about the benefits of your product, then link to your website at the end of the post.

You’re probably using a list of marketing tactics already, such as:

  • Print marketing
  • Social media posts
  • White papers
  • Videos
  • Blog posts
  • Podcasts
  • Surveys

The list keeps going, but you get the idea. It’s not enough to go on a content creation spree. Instead, each of these tactics should roll up to a strategy, objective, and goal. What kind of content can you create to help you achieve your goals?

Personalization can help you connect heart to heart with your customers.

Identify Your Customers

So you know what you need (your tactics), why you need it (your strategies), and what you need it for (your goals and objectives). Now you need to determine who your clients are for each product or service you sell.

To start, you need to segment your target audience. You can do this by breaking your broader audience into buyer personas (or customer profiles) based on demographics, behaviors, interests, and lifestyle choices. 

From there, you can create personalized content that appeals to each of your customers and helps you better relate to them.

A competitor analysis can help you learn more about what your customers already respond to.

SWOT & Competitor Analysis

Do you know your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats? A SWOT analysis can help you learn more about your business, industry, and customers. This information is essential to your marketing plan’s overall success.

It’s also important to know who your competitors are and what they’re doing. That’s where a competitor analysis can help. To start one, focus on your competition’s strengths and weaknesses along with the specific tactics they’re using to speak to the market.

By including details from these reports in your marketing plan, you can find potential gaps and roadblocks in your plan.

Analytics can help you optimize your marketing strategy’s overall performance.

Detailed Reporting

Once you’ve structured your plan, put it in motion! Watch it work, but keep a close eye on the results.

Use analytics to help you optimize your marketing plan’s overall performance. Creating KPIs based on the SMART objectives you set earlier will ensure your strategies remain aligned with your goals. As you move forward with your new marketing plan, keep an eye on your metrics, and don’t be afraid to pivot if your company’s ROI isn’t where you expect it to be.

A Marketing Plan That Reflects Your Overall Business Goals

Your company’s marketing plan won’t look like anyone else’s because your business isn’t like anyone else’s. Putting together a marketing plan isn’t as easy as plucking one off the internet and keying it in for your company. Instead, it’s vital to produce a plan that reflects your company’s overall business goals. 

Whether you want to increase your revenue, attract new clients, or gain brand awareness, a well thought out plan can help you succeed.

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