Have you thought: “My business is too small to need a written marketing plan?”
Do you believe that running a few ads on Facebook and announcing your new business on social media is enough?
The truth is, even a small business needs to have a formal plan.
What is a marketing plan?
A marketing plan is a defined strategy of what marketing efforts your business will take. It outlines your current and proposed products, your desired results, your customers, your target audience, what means you will use to reach them in order to grow. The plan is usually for a year, but it should be flexible and be modified as needed.
Why do you need one?
The benefits of doing a plan are that you’re forced to examine everything you do in your business and what you want to achieve. The plan will direct the right marketing efforts to attract an audience that will want your products.
For instance, you want to get more people to sign-up for your course. In order to do that more people need to know about you. In your plan, you decide to use email to show them the benefits of your product and to start a social media campaign to get more people on your list.
The Information you need to write your plan
You need the following information to develop your marketing program:
- set goals
- identify your customers,
- define the products and services you offer
- evaluate your current marketing results
- know your competition and their marketing
Start with setting goals.
What is the goal? Are you trying to increase awareness of your business, or products? Are you looking to increase sales and revenue? Do you want more engagement on social media?
By defining what you want to achieve, you can determine where to put your efforts. Without goals, you may spend money and time marketing in the wrong places. When defining your goals, they must be specific, measurable, and have a time frame.
For instance, you want to get more people to sign-up for your course. In order to do that more people need to know about you. You set a goal of getting 100 more people per month to visit your website for the next six months, and 150 people monthly for the following six months. In your plan, you will decide what is the best method to get a wider audience.
Know your customer
To write your marketing plan, you must know your ideal customer, the person who most likely will want what you’re offering. You need to define everything about that person. Their age, gender, income, education, interests, what they read and the social media channels they use.
By knowing your customer you can determine what they want, and the right message to attack them. You’ll understand where to put your efforts, whether it’s videos, posts on social media, which social channel, an advertising campaign, or another method.
Review your products and services and evaluate your marketing results
Analyze each of the products and services you offer. How are you currently marketing them? Which method is working and which is not? Track your statistics, what are they showing? Are they improving or staying the same? Can you make changes to your current marketing for better results? Are there methods that you should add, or eliminate?
Research competitors and their marketing
This is an important step. Seeing what your competitors are doing, what’s working for them, what they post on social media, their content strategy, and where they’re advertising. This is helpful to see what opportunities you’re missing, or a gap that you can fill.
Doing all this research takes time, but fortunately, there are online tools that can do the spying for you. The Ultimate List of Competitor Research and Spy Tools reviews 40 sites, and the pros and cons of each. Some have a free component, many are subscription and some are pricey. Try several and see which gives you the information you need.
Develop your marketing plan
Once you set your goals, define your ideal customer, evaluate the marketing of your products, and research your competitors— it’s time to build your plan.
Take every goal you defined and listt he actions you will take to achieve it. Be specific about what you will do and when.
When you’re putting your plan together, look at all the possible techniques available. They fall into three categories, owned, earned and paid.
Let’s define these techniques.
An owned channel is anything you control, the content you write, your website, blog and the email you send. This is a great marketing technique because you reach interested customers with targeted content that you created. This should be the largest part of your marketing. You don’t have to depend on any third party to get your message out.
The second category is the earned channel. This is the exposure you get from SEO, other sites you partner with, and posts you publish on other blogs. This is a non-paid method to get known. It should also be a part of your marketing plan.
The third method is to get media attention by paying for it. In large part, this is Facebook ads, Google ads, and ads you place on other websites or social media platforms. This also should be part of your marketing plan.
All three methods work together, and each should be used depending on your goals.
Here’s an example, your next year goals are to increase traffic to your website by 25%, and increase the sales of your courses by 5% per month. The first goal requires new people to learn about you and get them to visit your website. Your plan is to use both the earned and paid channels. You’ll work hard on optimizing your site to be found and ranked by Google. You’ll also increase the guest posts you write so you get more exposure to other people’s audience, which will create awareness. In addition, you’ll place ads on Facebook with the goal of having them visit your site.
The second goal is to increase sales. You determine it’s best to market to people who already know you. That will be people who already come to your website. You emphasize your products in the posts you write, the emails you send to your list, and you’ll show the benefits of your course on the sales page.
After you review each of your goals and decide on the marketing method you’ll use, set a budget, both in the time and the money you’ll allocate.
Make sure you measure the effectiveness of each tactic. Have the percentage increased the way you want? Give each one some time to see if they are working. If after a month or two you see no improvement, stop using that strategy and try a different one.
A word of caution, only add one or two new channels and test the results before adding more. If you change too often, you will not know which one gave you results.
A digital marketing plan is your roadmap to setting and meeting your goals. It provides a solid direction for where to put your resources, and a way to measure if they are as effective as you desire. The plan gives you the ability to make changes if they’re not meeting expectations, or to put more effort into the things that are.
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