Marketing 101 – Create A Marketing Plan
FIRM FIXED IDEAS
A marketing plan is a detailed guide comprising the marketing activities for a company during a period of time in order to achieve specific goals.
Working together, “Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.” – James Cash Penney.
The only pre-step in approaching the creation of your own marketing plan is to clearly define specific goals that your company wants to achieve by a specific time. I’ve said it many times here and I will keep saying it – you need to be specific. The marketing plan isn’t just for the marketing team, it’s for everyone within the company to consider and to identify their role in achieving the goals. One other final consideration before I outline the marketing plan is that every goal must be measurable.
Step 1 – Goals and KPI’s
As depicted in the image above you will create a before state of your company, with specific metrics. What you do not want to be writing in the ‘Before’ state is metrics that are too broad for the final draft. The tendency is to write, “Increase Sales” but that doesn’t tell us enough and in most cases is not specific enough for the ‘After’ state especially for teams that are not in the sales/marketing teams. Instead of looking at profit as a metric it’s important to break down how sales and profits are created – then identify based on your company and industry what metrics highly correlate to sales/profits.
For example I worked with a client who makes 99% of their sales from emails – therefore breaking down the email metrics like opens/clicks/ctr’s/etc would be valuable goals to shoot for. If you aren’t sure how high your goals should be, consider the history of those metrics… in my example look at the past 6 months and see if your goals seem reasonable. Also sharing these goals with your teams should help clear up realistic and un-realistic expectations.
Step 2 – The Fine Details
Download the template for a basic marketing plan using the link provided (not my template):
Credit to BDC
There are elements to a marketing plan like the mission, vision, team lists, organization, structure, and other details that I consider fine details. I am not going to spend any time on these at this point because my focus for this article is on the marketing specifics. At some point I will likely cover these elements.
Step 3 – Ideal Customer
As equally important as goals if not more important is to have some understanding of the ideal customer. Who is your ideal customer? Likely someone who purchases every service or buys a large value worth of products, does not return them, and may even refer or offer repeat business. You do not have a magic ball so you cannot assume to know the ideal customer precisely. What you can do is use what you know, research the market, ask customers, and even look at your competitors to have some idea. I am being vague here on purpose – one company’s worst customer may be another’s ideal customer. The best strategy I know to better understand your ideal customer is to create an avatar – basically a dossier of the information as you understand who the ideal customer is over time. Be as specific as possible; simple demographic information is never enough. You want to tap into the niche market and therefore the niche target audience. You need to go as deep and specific as you can then ask what kind of person is this. How do we market to this person? Etc.
Digital Marketer has a great avatar worksheet that can help you identify the right avatar:
Credit to Digital Marketer
Step 4 – Threats
Before you outline your strategy in the final step you need to understand the resistances you will face in creating your strategy. Everyone wants to achieve their goals as quickly as possible but there are natural forces, and competitive forces that oppose you. Ask your teams what some of the problems they could be facing as you implement and evaluate the performance of your goals.
My favorite tool and a popular threat analysis tool is to create a detailed SWOT analysis. A SWOT analysis stands for (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) and apply to the company and industry both macro and micro. When compiling details for the analysis be totally honest as the difference between an accurate and inaccurate SWOT analysis is enormous. This tool is only for you anyway… and you are filling this out because you want to enhance the positive elements and diminish the negative elements if you can. Professional consultants will use tools such as these to diagnose you and your company like a sick patient.
Consider the following grid and create it in Excel:
Step 5 – Finalize the Strategy
Finally you are ready. Take all the notes, details, elements, and goals with you into this stage. You will bullet a list with each actionable goal you defined in the ‘After’ state and then create a linear path to achieving it. For example if the ‘After’ goal is to increase the unique web visitors then you need to drive more traffic… that part is simple, but you need to describe how you will do this as specific as possible. Possible solutions include:
- Increase Web Traffic Weekly to 600
- Content Team: Create an additional content blog post by next month
- Content Team: Wednesday, 3pm PST, releases
- Content Team: Tailor blog posts to new (more relevant) categories asap
- Content Team: New Categories Approved
- Acquisition Team: Share blog posts to new private group in Facebook asap
- John will setup, invite to our exist members via email (3x over 3 weeks), ad spot on website to promote
- Director: Weekly reporting meeting to evaluate
- Monetization/Content Teams: Purchase one affiliate space for advertising our website each week
- Monetization Team: Relevant partner offers space in 5k emails for $1400, trackable clicks – PPC.
- Director: Review of material
- Content Team: Create an additional content blog post by next month
As you can see the general ideas are followed by more specific ones. The point of these is to show the linear path that will happen, who will help, when it occurs by, and what it will take or cost. I wrote these as a general overview but feel free to be more specific and to drill down many more layers down to ensure that everyone knows what they are doing. The strategy should be actionable by everyone or most everyone. What is expected should be clearly laid out and if training or meetings are required they should be listed.
Completing this stage should feel pretty good. With the outline done you are ready to clean up all the information and present it in a professional format.
Marketing plans are very useful – if your company does not already have one consider creating one to give yourself a better understanding of what you can do to help your company succeed. Information is power. Feel free to leave comments.