How to Write a Marketing Plan, Part 2
Yes. You can run each day independently from the previous one or from tomorrow, responding to the latest idea or the current crisis as they arise. You can allow your team to explore marketing techniques randomly. You can approve costs for ads without knowing how those costs affect the budget.
But suppose you decide to begin your marketing plan with goals. In that case, you will be giving your team and your business the luxury of knowing the highest priority rather than attempting to respond to everything as it comes to you. You’ll be able to review the big picture of available time and finances, connect those resources to desired outcomes, and know that you aren’t going to overtax your people or your bank account.
If you don’t set goals, you might move your business forward anyway, but you’ll likely cause unnecessary stress on the staff and the budget. The foundation of your marketing plan is your goals. Your goals will drive the daily actions your team takes. With goals, you’ll easily identify when you’re making progress.
Consider Your Business Goals to Set Your Marketing Goals
Your marketing goals should support what your business needs to stay afloat, get more funding, or grow. Thinking about your marketing goals from the perspective of your business’ needs will help you decide where to invest your efforts.
For instance, your business might not have its product, service, pricing, or target audience defined and proven yet. In this case, you might merely be testing ideas and finding the right people for your product.
If proving your product’s appeal is going to get your business attention from investors, you might focus on social proof, such as gathering followers and getting crowdfunding interest.
If you need to sell products now, your goals will be to get your product or service in front of audiences that will buy. If your sales have stalled, your goals might be to differentiate your messaging from your competitors and try new channels.
Define Key Results
Before setting when and how you’ll get your goals accomplished, be sure that the results you would like to see are clearly defined. Clearly defining goals should include measurable results.
If your goal is to increase brand awareness, define what that means specifically. Is it that you’re growing your social media followers, comments, and likes by a specific amount? Is it that you are going to measure how many people visit individual pages on your site? Is it that you’re going to monitor how many mentions your brand gets on the internet?
Is your goal to bring in more leads? More leads might mean that you collect people’s information from forms on your website, contacts at networking events, and from speaking events.
You might want to focus on selling more products and services to your current customers. This might involve remarketing and email campaigns that introduce your customers to additional products that would likely appeal to them based on their previous purchase. If your product is disposable or consumable, you might need to explore what you can do to encourage repeat orders such as loyalty rewards, automatic reordering, and special seasonal offers.
In the case of Airbnb, the early days (2007 – 2008) were full of rejections and slow growth. They needed money to keep their business going. So in 2008, they raised $30,000 by creating and selling two cereal boxes, Obama O’s and Cap’n McCains at convention parties. They sold those cereal boxes for $40 each; the box came with information about their Airbnb company. This stunt brought in $30,000, keeping the company afloat while they pursued additional investors.
Short-Term Goals vs Long-Term Goals
While thinking about setting goals, one year out or longer is normal. Set those goals knowing they will likely evolve. As you work towards your goals, your company will probably learn things about its audience, sales, and new product ideas that will cause your longer-term goals to shift.
The shorter-term goals, such as for the next quarter, are more manageable for people to work towards and to measure. So when setting a long-term, one, or five-year goal, break that goal down into smaller chunks until you get your first three-month goal.
Within your three-month goal, decide what needs to happen first. Can the smaller goals be accomplished within two weeks? Great. Now you have a micro goal. At the end of two weeks, your team can review the three-month marketing plan. During this review, set another micro goal.
Share the Goals
As you set micro and long-term goals, be sure that the entire company knows its goals. This helps everyone focus, even those not directly involved in taking actions toward achieving those goals. By keeping everyone aware, you’ll have a more unified workforce, and team members might bring unexpected ideas to the marketing team.
Now Go Measure It
In an upcoming article in this series, we’ll go into the specifics of ways to measure your performance. But for now, here’s a high-level overview of things you can measure, even if they are typically considered unmeasurable. Measuring your progress will do many things, such as validating your efforts or perhaps showing your team should abandon your current campaign. Regularly gauging your progress will help put into context the actual returns related to business growth. Knowing how much a lead is worth once your team has been pursuing them a while will help you set more realistic goals and budgets in the future.
Coming Up Next
In our next article, we will share how to define your audience. Defining who you are targeting will help you form your messaging, visuals, and drive where you should advertise.
More Marketing Plan Articles
This article is part of a series to help you create a robust marketing plan:
- Part 1: How to Write a Marketing Plan
- Part 2: How to Define Your Marketing Goals
- Part 3: How to Define Your Target Audience
- Part 4: How to Analyze Your Competitors and Their Marketing Plans
- Part 5: How to Conduct a Marketing Asset Assessment
- Part 6: Creating a Marketing Budget for Your Business
- Part 7: How to Choose the Best Marketing Platforms for Your Business
- Part 8: How to Create a Content Marketing Calendar
- Part 9: Defining Your Marketing Metrics