Finding people to buy your product or service means marketing your business. Deciding who you will target, how you are going to find those people, what messaging you will share, and how frequently you are going to reach out to people is, in a nutshell, what makes up a marketing plan.
This article is the first in a series to go in-depth into creating your business’s marketing plan.
In this article, we’ll outline how to write a marketing plan by defining what goes into a marketing plan and why.
Define Your Goals
What are you trying to do? You’ll want to state short-term goals and longer-term goals explicitly. The more specific you are, the more likely you will be to define what needs to happen to reach them. In addition to the outcome, you will want to set micro-goals, which are steps in the journey to a conversion. For example, if your goal is to sell a product, a micro-goal might be to get people to view a video that explains your product.
Define Your Target Audience
Before you reach out to potential buyers, you have to define who they are. This is commonly referred to as developing personas. Defining a persona will help you determine the tone to use in your marketing, where to market (you’ll want to be where your target audience is), and help you decide upon visuals that you think will attract your ideal audience.
This process involves defining who your competition is, how they reach out to their audience, and how you are the same and different from your competition. You’ll want to do this so you can learn from those already in your market space, and learn more about what makes your offering unique.
Once you’ve established what you want to accomplish (your goals), who you want to reach out to (persona), and who is vying for your same audience (competition), it’s time to review all of your current marketing material. During this review, you’ll decide what to keep, revise, what’s missing, and what doesn’t apply to this marketing plan.
This is when you decide how much money and time you and your staff can allot to marketing. Some outcomes of this process will be that you’ll know if you have more time than money or vice versa, which can help you decide what type of marketing you’ll do (paid or organic or both) and who will do the marketing (you, your staff, or an outside provider).
Where are you going to market? Where you decide to market will depend on who your persona is (you want to be where they are). Your available time and money (your budget) will also play a role in deciding where to focus your efforts. The outcome of identifying platforms will be that you’ll have a prioritized list of places to target, areas where it would be nice to focus your efforts but not necessary, and places to avoid. For example, some businesses should concentrate on tradeshow marketing, while others would do better promoting via Instagram.
After you have figured out where you want to market first (your platforms of choice), you can consider the content you want to create. The outcome of defining marketing content will be that you’ll have decided how to blend your chosen platforms’ expectations with the voice of your targeted persona.
How often will you actively market on your selected platforms? Is there seasonal content in your plan? Defining a marketing schedule will result in a calendar for when you’ll work on producing content, sharing the content, and coming up with new content ideas.
Measuring micro-goals and primary goals let you understand if your marketing is effective. The outcome of this process is that you’ll have identified what you are measuring, when to measure it, and the metrics you’ll use to determine if you are on the right track or not.
Marketing Plan Revisions
It’s normal to go back to the drawing board to try new things. You’ll want to decide how often to revisit your marketing plan and how much time to allot to revising your marketing plan. This process is important because you’ll learn valuable insights that will speed up your growth by reviewing what happened. You might find that you weren’t able to execute parts of your plan; why? You might have new ideas or new goals that you’d like to add to your marketing strategy. Based on lessons learned, you might decide to redefine the persona or market to two personas instead of one.
We’re going to cover each section of the marketing plan in depth throughout this series. In our next installment, we’ll begin by taking you through the process of defining your goals.