Whatever your marketing wishes are, a plan transforms them to reality.
Marketers who plan and document their marketing strategy are 414% more likely to report success than those who don’t. Whether you are a new business or well-established, going through the exercise of writing up your marketing plan will ensure all stakeholders are working from the same script and will align your marketing efforts to the business goals.
We recommend evaluating the following areas as you develop your marketing plan.
Company Profile – Document the basics of the business, products and services offered, competitors and competitive environment. Include a mission statement, vision statement and your company values. Who are the key personnel and decision makers? Who is responsible for your marketing plan?
Market Segment and Target Audience – Describe the overall market for the product or service, and the segments in that market. Define the size of market, geography, demographic and psychographic attributes to paint a picture of your current and your potential customer base. One of the questions to ask is are your current customers your ideal customers?
Caution: Don’t try to be all things to all people. It’s tempting to define your customer as “everyone,” but that will dilute your marketing efforts making your plan less effective. A better way to approach your segmenting and targeting is to come up with a description like the following.
“35 to 45-year-old senior executives; 65% men and 35% women; with the job titles CEO, CFO, or COO at companies with 200+ employees in the banking and financial services industry. The problem they need to solve is managing their customer data using technology. They are in the western United States; value security and financial growth; value relationships based on trust and credibility; are likely to research heavily and use data to make buying decisions; prefer to be contacted in person or by direct mail rather than email; evaluate purchase decisions based on return on investment rather than cost alone.”
“18-35-year-old males who see themselves as rebels, rule-breakers and trendsetters; who live in Spokane, WA; with a high school degree or higher; working in the food service industry. They are looking for shoes that are comfortable for days on their feet, but still look edgy and cool. They appreciate excellent quality; work hard and play harder; and are willing to spend $150 per pair of shoes. They prefer social media and text messages as the main communication tools.”
Situation and Company Analysis – A situational analysis includes the external and internal factors that affect a business. In addition to a SWOT analysis, try the “5C” approach to assess the company, customers, competitors, collaborators, and climate. In some cases, it makes sense to do third party market research. Time and resource savings, a neutral perspective and confidentiality are the benefit of a third-party market research firm.
Customer Profiles – Sometimes referred to as a “persona,” a customer profile deep dives into describing your current and ideal customers. Identifying your customers will help you better understand their needs, purchasing behavior, demographics, pain points and the primary reason they do business with you. This in turn will help you understand how to communicate with them. Like Orvel Ray Wilson of the Guerrilla Group once said, “Customers buy for their reasons, not yours.” When you understand your customer, you will know what motivates them to act.
Positioning and Differentiation – What is unique about your business? What are you known for and what is the general need for the product or service you offer? Most importantly, how are you different than the competition?
Caution: Be as specific as possible and avoid vague answers like “high quality, better service.” Everyone can say they are the best – but are you better than your competitors at what matters to your customer?
Amazon’s positioning statement is a great example. It is: “For consumers who want to purchase a wide range of products online with quick delivery, Amazon provides a one-stop online shopping site. Amazon sets itself apart from other online retailers with its customer obsession, passion for innovation, and commitment to operational excellence.”
Product or Service – Get detailed when describing your product or service. What problem does it solve for your target customers and how can you improve?
Pricing Strategy – How are you pricing your product or service? Are you in line with the market? Based on your company’s goals, could you charge more or less to improve your profitability or increase your market share?
Distribution Strategy – How does the target customer obtain your product or service? Do you have the right partners in place to ensure delivery? Have you evaluated customers’ buying habits and preferences? Could you grow geographically by partnering with a broker or wholesaler? Are you brick and mortar or web-based?
Branding – Now for the fun part where you combine the strategic legwork you’ve done so far with creative talent to give your brand life! What is the brand promise, voice, personality and image of your business? Logo design, color palette, imagery, typography, signage, social media, copy tone and style are just a few of the things to consider when developing or updating your branding. Taking the steps to document and formalize your brand standards ensures that every interaction with your company is consistent and reinforces your brand.
Goals, Measurement and KPIs – By setting measurable goals that directly tie to the company’s overall business goals, your marketing team can determine whether campaigns are effective, what impact they had on revenue and growth, and what adjustments may be needed. Additionally, setting key performance indicators helps to identify which metrics you will evaluate and track. Marketers that set goals are 377% more likely to report success than those who don’t.
Marketing Tactics – Now it’s time for action! Your marketing tactics are the ongoing actions needed to ensure the success of the strategy. Be sure to set goals for each tactic, so you can adjust as you go. Examples of marketing tactics include the following: personalized direct mail, blogging, social media posting, product sampling, attending conferences, and sending client surveys. Keep in mind how your target audience wants to hear from you. Consistency, frequency, and following brand standards will ensure success.
Budget – When you set a marketing budget, you can allocate funds to the right places, set realistic goals, and plan more effectively. There are several ways to determine your marketing budget, whether it’s based on percentage of revenue or sales or industry specific research. The important thing is to find a number and stick with it. According to Deloitte, on average marketing budgets have risen to 11.8% of companies’ overall budgets.
Caution: Set a budget! Companies that don’t end up overspending on their marketing. Conversely, cutting marketing budgets is usually counterproductive. Studies have shown that companies who continue to market, even in a recession, are more likely to survive and thrive through the economic downturn. By developing a solid marketing plan, savvy spending will provide ROI.
Creating a marketing plan may seem overwhelming, but it’s worth the time. Whether it’s lead generation, increased revenue or customer retention, a marketing plan will ensure you’re on track and working toward your company’s goals.
Let’s turn wishes into reality! Our team of experts are here for you. Call us today to plan your marketing success.
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