30 May How to write a winning marketing plan in six easy steps
Creating your business marketing plan may seem daunting, but with these six easy steps you’ll feel confident enough to get cracking and write a winning marketing plan that not only will you be proud of, but that will give your business the traction it needs to grow.
How to write a winning marketing plan in six easy steps
Step 1 – Where are you now?
It may seem obvious but you need to assess where you are now in order to plan where you want to be. Think of your marketing plan a bit like two points on a map; you need to know where your starting point and your end points are in order to plan and take the most direct route.
So, take a look at your marketing activity over the last year. Who have you been targeting? What tools have you been using? What responses have you been getting? What were your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and have you met them? What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats? How can you turn your strengths into a stand out USP? Are the weakness a threat? What do you need to do to change that? Get feedback from your staff, customers and suppliers.
- Are there any changes environmentally or legally that have affected you over the last year? Are there any coming up that you need to be aware of?
- What are your competitors doing? Look at their products, pricing, service etc. but don’t get hung up on it. Who says they’re doing it right!
- Look at your customers. Which ones are your most profitable? How are they? Why do they buy from you and how do they buy? Online, offline or both?
- Assess the market place you’re trading in? Are there any trends developing? Any products dropping off?
Action: Start documenting your analysis of where you are now.
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Step 2 – Where do you want to be?
Presumably you want to grow your business, (otherwise I’m not sure why you’re reading this). But you need to be more specific so you’ve got something really tangible to aim for. For example, to grow sales of watering cans by 20% by October 2016 or increase website conversions by 2% by December 2016. Your goals then suddenly become much more realistic than simply saying we want to increase our sales. This makes it much easier to measure and identify when you’ve reached a particular milestone and, if you’re some way from it, what can be changed to alter the course.
Action: Set 5 goals that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Timely). Remember though that these also need to link back to your overall business goals so you achieve them.
Step 3 – How are you going to get there–the strategy?
For your marketing plan to be effective, first we need to define our target audience/s. You will already have current customers and lapsed customers; who are they? Can their profile be replicated and a target for new prospects?
Who are your prospects?
- Segment – Identify the segments that will be the most appropriate for your product.
- Target Audience – How can these be split down in to smaller groups?
- Objectives – What do you want each of these groups to do?
- Positioning – Why do each of these groups want your product? What’s in it for them?
Use a mix of push and pull strategies to maximise sales.
Action: Create a persona for each audience type. Who they are, where they live, their lifestyle, their income, their education, their hobbies, their buying habits, Company type, company size, decision making process, challenges, goals, how you can help, job title, where they hang out. etc.
Step 4 – How will you actually get there–the tactics?
Now this is the part of the marketing plan where you can get your hands dirty! It’s time to start putting actions to your objectives; what channels and tools are you going to use to achieve your objectives and when are you going to use them?
Once you have identified your targeted audience you can then start to think about where they hang out. What mix of marketing will reach them at each stage of the buying journey? For more information on the buying journey take a look at the blog ‘Is integrated marketing really that important‘ here.
What messages and images will resonate with your target audience? When will they be most interested in your offering?
Action: Draw up a plan that shows the channels, tools, topics and messages appropriate for each target audience.
Step 5 – What needs to be done?
For your marketing to be executed effectively you will need to know who is what when, the responsibilities for each person involved, how they will do their assigned actions (the processes and systems in solved) and if there is any requirement for external agencies.
Action: As part of your marketing plan include action points for each person involved, KPIs and milestones for review.
Step 6 – Did we do it?
It is essential that each campaign is monitored and measured. This way you can make any alterations required should your marketing plan start straying off the path or need tweaking. Set weekly and monthly milestones so you can assess your progress and make adjustments.
Look at your website traffic – where is it coming from? What journey are they taking through your site? How long are they staying on site? Which pages have the highest bounce rate? How many conversions are you getting? What is the average order value? How many times do these customers purchase from you?
And that just your website! Take a look at all your marketing activities: Social media ads, email marketing, offline ads, PPC etc. This data will give you the essential information required to develop your marketing and improve the customer experience.
You need to set KPIs for each tool you use so you can analyse what is working, what isn’t and where to direct your marketing spend to maximise your return on investment. Digital marketing is particularly easy to measure buy off line marketing can still be measured but using codes, vouchers, assigning unique phone numbers etc.
Action: Set out your KPIs and start tracking your progress; you’ll be surprised how revealing it is!