I believe marketing plans lost their luster with the advent of template based software. The ability to use canned text made the number of pages within a plan soar to some 100+ pages in some instances. When someone needed to create a marketing plan, they simply fired up whatever software they purchased, answered a few questions and thought the rest would work itself out.
The result? The plan was useless. No one would read it, follow it or use it.
Avoid wasting time on creating a worthless plan. Follow these tips and create an effective marketing plan everyone will understand.
A marketing plan is a blueprint of how to get from point A to point B. One page of well thought out strategy is better than 100 pages of templated text that you won’t read.
“Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful.” - John Maeda
What’s in a well thought out marketing plan?
A marketing plan doesn’t need to have all the bells and whistles to be effective. It just needs to be actionable and realistic. Something you can actually use with set goals you can achieve.
Consider the following:
- Sales goals that marketing must support
- State the problem you’re trying to solve
- Market conditions
- Competitive analysis
- Buyer Persona and customer demographic information
- Your Unique Value Proposition (UVP)
- Marketing strategy - how you plan to capitalize on the opportunities discovered in your research
- Marketing tactics - the campaigns and initiatives you plan to implement to support your strategy
- Analytics and measurements - how you plan to measure your tactics to make sure you’re achieving your goals
It’s simple. On the other hand, you can get way more in-depth with your marketing plan to the point of complication. But if no one is going to read it or use it, why create it? Your digital marketing plan should make sense to the layman and the expert, because this is the broad range of people that will help achieve your marketing goals; these are the people that will be following the plan.
How do you build a marketing plan?
It’s easier than you think. You need to perform a discovery, or what I like to refer to as a ‘brain-dump’. You need to spill everything that’s in the heads of your leadership team on the table. Look at your assets and resources as a company and the obstacles that are preventing you from achieving your marketing goals. Starting with this step is integral. A marketing plan is not a one-man in the corner job. It’s a collaboration between the leadership staff and the marketing team to build an actionable plan, that’s organic, flexible and has room to iterate for changing customer demands and market conditions.
So instead of downloading a marketing template in a word file or a marketing plan software, put together a list of questions that need to be answered. All the unknowns, the tough questions that seem simple:
- How does your business make money? (what is your profit model)
- Who is your customer? What need do you fulfill for your customer?
- How do your customers make buying decisions?
- What is your current sales process, from beginning to end?
- Who are your competitors and where are they marketing?
- What’s the lifetime value of your customer?
- What’s the cost to acquire a new customer for your company?
- What is your marketing budget? How much can you invest in marketing?
- Based on the money we have to spend, what does that afford us to do to get more customers?
- How will we track the marketing spend to ensure we’re achieving a return on our investment?
- What are our obstacles to getting more customers?
- How many new customers do we want/need from our marketing? (marketing goals)
- Where are we marketing now and is it effective? How do we know it’s effective? (if you can’t measure it, drop it or make it measurable)
- How are we measuring our marketing? Do we trust the data?
Start your marketing plan by getting these questions answered. During your planning process, these answers will become invaluable because these are the answers for your plan.