Having a marketing plan helps you stay two steps ahead with your outreach. Although it can be a lot of work to build one from scratch, an effective marketing plan is an important tool.
A marketing plan is a document that outlines your paid advertising, social media, email, SEO, or content marketing strategy. Think of it as a strategic roadmap showing your starting point and the path to your destination.
In this case, the marketing plan describes the objectives of your strategy, such as increasing traffic to your website, building product awareness, or growing lead generation. Besides that, it details the action plan — the things you need to do to achieve those goals — and stipulates a timeline for each.
An effective marketing plan gives your content marketers a North Star to follow. It clearly outlines the goals and expectations, as well as how to attain them.
For example, if your goal is to increase funnel conversion, your marketing plan will highlight the things you need to do at every stage of the buyer’s journey. Perhaps you need to publish more blog posts that address questions at the consideration stage of the journey. Or, maybe you need to create more case studies to help prospects on the fence make a decision to convert. Or, if you aren’t seeing enough leads enter your funnel, then you know it’s time to up your social media and guest content.
Even better, the plan offers an outlined process for creating content and distributing it so that it sees as much value as possible. This ensures that your strategy has legs and gets put into motion.
Beyond guiding your content marketing efforts, a marketing plan streamlines your sales process. It gives your teams an instruction manual or blueprint that lets everyone know exactly what steps your sales team needs to take to see results.
Having measurable goals is the only way to be successful in actually meeting them. Since your marketing plan is guiding your sales and marketing efforts, it can easily connect the dots to marketing and sales metrics you’ll use to measure the success of your efforts. Not to mention, it provides a framework with which to track your progress.
Despite their similar goals, your sales and marketing team has its own agendas and processes to follow. Your marketing plan can help ensure they stay aligned, so things don’t fall through the cracks.
More than anything, though, it gives teams a clear, shared path, allowing them to see both the forest and the trees when it comes to the overarching marketing objectives.
You might have a general idea of where you want to go with your marketing, but you have to put that idea into the appropriate context of a customer persona. This means performing market research to understand the scope of both your industry and your audience, with an eye out for nuances that could directly affect your plans.
To truly understand your market and what makes your audience tick, you need to ask yourself a series of questions that uncover the unknowns and the truths.
Make sure you also pay special attention to the key stages of market research. The last thing you want to do is breeze through your research and miss anything, or not give a certain stage the attention necessary. Doing so could make you miss out on something crucial, and if you miss the mark on knowing your audience, you won’t know the best way to speak to them. Here are the five crucial market research stages you need to know:
If you need to, or if you have the resources, outsource an agency that can help you dig into these areas. The more in-depth you’re able to get, the more you’re able to uncover that can serve you later.
Along with your sales team, you need to be the leading expert on the product or service that you’re selling. While you obviously know a lot already, try to come at it from a new perspective. Again, here are some questions you should be asking at this step:
Analyzing your product or service from all possible angles will help you hone in on knowledge gaps and educational opportunities, both of which will guide your plan.
You’d be amazed at how many small businesses haven’t officially outlined their ideal buyer or target audience. They may claim to know exactly who that person is, but the truth is, over time, the target audience changes and evolves. Just like businesses, things adjust as the market adjusts, and who you initially thought you’d be selling to may look a little different a few years in.
That’s why it’s imperative that you periodically examine who your target audience is but nail down exact characteristics and document them. This is all a part of having an effective marketing strategy, because after all, if you don’t know who you’re marketing to, then you won’t be able to sell your product.
Know your target audience inside and out before embarking on your marketing plan. This includes diving into their wants, needs, pain points, and demographics. Segment your buyer personas in the same way you’ll segment your marketing efforts, creating robust profiles of your target customers at various stages of the funnel. From there, you can better define your goals, as well as how you hope to achieve them.
Speaking of specifics, get as specific as you can with what you want to achieve with your marketing plan. “More revenue” is an obvious objective, but it’s far more helpful to break it down into smaller, tangible goals.
Making your goals real ideas instead of just something you know is necessary for your bottom line makes it easier for your team to figure out how to achieve them. Also, it helps identify the various ways you’ll measure the success of your efforts, ensuring you’re meeting or getting close to meeting those goals.
So instead of listing “more revenue” under your goal section, try these specific goals on for size:
Having too many goals isn’t a bad thing, so long as you have ideas for pushing them forward. Create a mind map of sorts, starting with your big goals (more revenue, more customers, etc.) and forming offshoots with the smaller goals that will help you get there.
Now you know your goals, so it’s time to talk strategy. For most marketing plans, your tactics will be divided into five core initiatives:
Figure out how your goals fit into each of these tactics, as well as how they come together to form your bigger marketing strategy. For instance, if you know one of your goals is more lead generation, make sure you’re creating and publishing the right content to generate leads. Map out specifically what efforts you’ll be using and which goal they help achieve. Including this in your marketing plan will help you easily identify how you plan to track whether those efforts are successful.
Notice how well these things work on their own and together, and keep in mind there will likely be a lot of overlap. For example, any content you create could also be used as fuel for email marketing and drip campaigns, your social media strategy, and SEO. You’ll want to fit together with each piece of the puzzle in a way that aligns with what you’ve learned through market research and building audience personas, as well as to lay out how you’re going to prioritize different tactics.
Prioritizing your small business marketing budget is instrumental to your marketing plan. Determining first what your budget is will indicate what efforts are reasonable and which need to be tabled for the time being. Once you know how much you’re able to spend, you should divvy up your budget by putting the most spend behind the effort you think will reap the most reward. You may be guessing on this at first, and that’s fine. Do some research to see what other small businesses and direct competitors are putting spend behind and why. Then, as time goes on, you can evaluate the ROI of your various efforts to determine if your spend is being used wisely. There’s always room to make adjustments and tweak your budget, so you’re spending in the right areas. Just continue to put your money where it will go the furthest, and you’ll avoid wasting dollars on strategies that are underdelivering.
Although putting together a marketing plan may be intimidating, it will allow you to reach your goals. Feel free to get in touch with Savvy Business Gals to see how we can assist you. We can provide additional support and information to you and help you to drive more traffic, generate more leads and boost your profits, which at the end of the day, that’s what we all want right? Book a complementary 30 minute discovery call and find out how we might be able to help. Click here to book your call now!