A marketing plan isn’t something anyone should take lightly. It may be fun and creative to work on, but it’s a serious portion of your operation.
Failure to develop a plan that’s tailored to your firm’s core objectives could work very much against you.
“A strategic marketing plan is more than just a list of tactics. It takes into account the many variables that can impact your business’ growth, like the inner-workings of your company, the market you’re competing in, your competition and opportunities,” Simple Machines Marketing explains.
“This insight is critical for determining the strongest opportunities to pursue.” In many cases, you’ll see companies develop a marketing plan, then tweak their business objectives to fit the strategy … but this is a backward way of going about the mission.
It’s impossible to develop an effective marketing plan if you haven’t initially zeroed in on your core business objectives. That doesn’t guarantee marketing success, but it does increase your chances of increasing ROI.
What are your business objectives? Can you list off your two or three primary goals right now, without having to spend more than few seconds having to think about it?
If the other key stakeholders in your business were asked the same question, would their answers be close to yours? Before going any further, you need to ensure you have clarity in this area; only then may you begin to regard your marketing plan in the correct light.
An effective marketing plan is able to reach the right customer with the right message at the right time. In order to accomplish these three objectives at the same time, you need to ensure everything’s properly aligned with your core business objectives.
Here’s how you make that happen:
Companies frequently make the mistake of being too narrow with their audiences. They assume they’re doing the right thing by closing down their focus and allocating all their resources to the customers that offer the highest potential ROI.
But this could do a disservice to the firm’s lead-generation efforts. “The ‘top’ of the funnel is where brand awareness and lead generation happens,” Digital Marketing Institute explains.
“It’s where you have the opportunity to cast a net over the broadest possible customer base and not only build your audience, but also engage with them to understand more about your entire strategy.”
As you develop customer profiles for your target audience, don’t neglect the people along the fringes. Most of these folks will likely drop off as you move down the funnel, but ignoring them at the top dismisses any possibility of reaching any of them at the bottom.
You naturally think like a marketer or business owner. But if you want your marketing plan to connect with potential clients, you have to put yourself in their shoes.
As Eden Ames of the American Marketing Association points out, visual imagery does a far better job of conveying a message than words ever will. People think in pictures and the human brain is much more likely to connect with an idea if a visual is involved.
Ames also reminds marketers that other seemingly small psychological factors can have a huge impact on how customers accept certain marketing messages. For example, the color blue is associated with trust.
The first number a customer sees can affect how he or she evaluates a price in the future. And people often behave in accordance with how they’re labeled.
It can be quite helpful to develop partnerships with other brands, especially in the form of co-marketing. But if you’re going to do that, you need to make sure you work with companies that have similar objectives. Otherwise, you’re liable to become yoked unequally, and one or both of you could suffer adverse consequences.
As entrepreneur Brian Fitzgerald says, “Co-marketing is about building a book of business for both you and your partners. A huge part of that is achieving shared goals in a collaborative manner. As such, you should take time to get to know the people you are partnering with, the people behind the business.”
If, after taking the time to get to know another business, you feel your respective goals are in alignment, then proceed. A well-timed partnership can be extremely cost-effective.
Proving marketing ROI is one of the biggest challenges businesses face. It could also be said that quantifying ROI is one of the most important steps toward optimizing your efforts and getting the most out of your marketing plan.
As you develop and implement the plan, make sure you regularly measure, analyze and revisit the drawing board to ensure that your execution — not just your planning — is in harmony with your business objectives. This is the only way to know whether you’re on track.