How to create an effective marketing plan
27th, Jun 2016
A marketing plan is essential to successful marketing. You set goals, define your audience, determine priorities and look at where and how you should focus your resources for the most impact. As part of the planning process you also analyze your business and financial situation so you can make informed decisions about your needs and resources.
Without a plan, you run the risk of spending time and money on an assortment of different tactics without a clearly defined purpose. Maybe some of those efforts will work. But what about the things that don’t work, or more likely, you’re not really sure what is working or could be working better. When you act without a marketing plan, you’re more likely to engage in random acts of marketing, which wastes precious resources.
An effective marketing plan needs all of these
1. Define your strategy(ies) first. Successful marketing requires that you have a strategy and a plan. The strategy defines your goals – what do you want to achieve and why. The plan is about how you’re going to do it – what steps do you need to take to implement your strategy.
2. Put it in writing. According to the 2016 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America study of 3700 companies, “B2B marketers who have a documented content marketing strategy get better results from their content marketing tactics, social media platforms, and paid methods of content distribution compared to those without a written strategy.” The study focused on content marketing, but its good business practice to put your plans in writing.
3. Allocate appropriate resources. Once you know what you want to accomplish and what you need to do to get there, you have to put aside enough time, money and bodies. The Ascend 2016 State of Digital Marketing Survey found that the most significant barrier to success in digital marketing was an inadequate marketing budget. Lack of internal skills/training was number 2 on the list. Think about who can handle what tasks, both in terms of time and ability. Outsource if necessary. If you don’t have the funds or the staff to do everything you want to do, then start with a small, simple project. Be realistic about your needs and resources otherwise your plan will go nowhere fast.
4. Measure results. The metrics you choose will vary depending on your goals. Think in terms of short-, mid- and long-term goals. The ultimate goal for firms is usually to grow revenue, but that takes a long time. You want some interim measurements in order to gauge your progress. For example, new business starts with new leads, which may start with increasing visibility. If you’re looking at website metrics, do you want to measure growth in new visitors to your website or look at repeat visits or how much time someone spent on the site? Make sure your metrics are appropriate and you use them properly. Marketing is a process of testing, measuring and revising.
5. Revisit your plan regularly. It’s a good practice to look at your plan annually or more often if your business has changed in some way. Consider your financial and competitive situation as well as your results to date.
Invest in creating a solid marketing plan for your business. It will be worth it.
For help in creating your marketing plan, contact us for a consultation.