Following on from last week’s blog on identifying your ideal customers, part two of this guide will provide you with the steps you need to build a successful marketing plan.
A marketing plan is basically a blueprint with everything you need to drive forward and promote your business. Given how important this is, it’s quite surprising how many businesses fail to have clear strategies in place or work off plans that are outdated and ineffective.
One of the core components of our digital marketing services is a 12-month digital marketing plan that can be used as a structure to apply consistency to your business development operations.
Businesses with clear, actionable marketing plans have been proven to outdo the competition by far. This is because they’re armed with the information they need on their target market and the actionable steps necessary to engage with them. If you’re about to sit down and write yours, here’s 5 steps to make sure you build a successful marketing plan.
1. Understand your audience
First and foremost, you must understand who you are selling to. Fail to do this and you may as well throw the towel in now. It’s so important to understand the habits, pain points and general day to day routines your customers follow. This will help you to put yourself in their shoes and understand why they would want to buy your product or service. Check out last week’s blog on understanding your ideal customers to get more tips on this step.
You should have a think about whether they are likely to be using search engines to find services, or whether you need to generate demand from scratch with a social media campaign.
2. Review your current situation
Where are you at the moment? Ok, that’s quite an open question but it is one to ask about all areas of your existing marketing process. Start from the very basics and carry out an audit of everything you currently do to market your business. This can include a review of your social media and digital channels as well as any print and more traditional forms of advertising. If you have an existing strategy (no matter how comprehensive) get scrutinising and think about the areas you can improve.
Whilst carrying out an internal audit, it’s also important to do some competitor benchmarking. Research and review what the competition are doing and see if there’s anything that you aren’t. Have they run a recent campaign that went down a storm? Is their Twitter outperforming yours? Once you’ve cross examined, this should give you a good idea of the areas and tactics you need to focus on.
3. Set the Strategy and Objectives
Once you’re up to scratch on where your current position is, it’s time to get planning the strategy. Start by setting SMART objectives which will help you to implement measurable milestones. Think about key areas such as your sales forecast, customer service, communication and standing out from the competition. By focusing on these elements, you’ll be able to build a plan which encompases the whole business – not just sales conversions.
When you have your objectives, start putting your strategy together. It’s important to consider each segment of your target audience to ensure all bases are covered. Don’t just focus on generating new business, think about your existing customers too and how you can build their loyalty. This will provide you with a clear focus for your action plan.
4. Create an action plan
This part is integral if your strategy is going to work. Far too many businesses come up with brilliant strategies but fail to put together a clear action plan. This means that momentum is lost after the first few weeks and that great strategy gets wasted. To avoid this, sit down with your team and work out a foolproof action plan that’s easy for everyone to follow.
Be sure to delegate tasks where possible so that everyone is responsible for set actions. This will help to ensure that your plan stays firmly on track. Once in progress, hold regular meetings to keep tabs on things and ensure actions are being completed.
5. Review and improve
So many businesses forget this stage and it’s crucial if you want to adapt and improve. Reviewing and analysing progress is a key part of marketing as it helps to to work out your ROI and the effectiveness of your plan. If you have the resource, you should allocate this task to a member of the team so you know it’s always being done. It will be their responsibility to report on what works and what needs improvement.
Reviewing progress regularly will also help you to stay on track with the plan. It’s easy to get sidetracked when other priorities come up but sticking to and improving your marketing plan will really pay off in the long run.