The most basic function of a marketing plan is to meet whatever objectives it sets out to achieve and ultimately convert customers, if it does this then it can be considered to be successful. Easy as pie. Except of course making a pie is not easy, it takes several steps and the careful following of a recipe for it to come outright. So, just like a pie has a recipe, a good marketing plan needs a framework.
1. Get intimate with the market.
First, define your target market. You cannot reach or please everyone so don’t even attempt to make that a goal. It is worth putting in some solid time to identify who you want to ‘speak’ to as a brand. Is there a particular need that your product or service can address for a particular sector of people more than any other? Even if you’re convinced that what you offer has universal appeal, think about who would be most attracted to it, what kind of buying power they have and concentrate on them. This is the case even if you sell bottled water.
Consider these questions:
- Who would choose your brand of water above all others?
- Do you need to carry out research to understand more about them?
- How do they make their buying decision?
- Where do they hang out? Is it online or good old bricks and mortar locations?
- Where and how will your message best reach them?
Defining your target audience is key to how the rest of your marketing plan unfolds so do not underestimate the importance of this step.
2. Show your product some interest.
What is it about your product that makes it a compelling choice for the target audience you will have identified?
In the case of bottled water, is it using recycled plastic or glass bottles? Is it locally sourced mineral water? Or is it filtered water? Does it have a sports cap? Are the bottles small enough to fit in a lunch box? Putting all of these considerations together will help you clarify what your unique value proposition is then marrying it up with your defined customer will enable you to be even more focused and effective in your marketing planning.
3. Spend quality time on the measurable specifics.
You should be able to quantify all aspects of the plan. From the objectives that are being set to the timelines. Yes, strategy is crucial but the tactics and activities that the plan employs will be the real tell, and all of them will need to feed into KPIs or some sort of measurable results so that ROI can be calculated. Board members like to see ROI and it’s very likely you will have to report on your plan to them.
When we say measurable it means that the activities are set against attainable goals. For example; reach sales of $4,500 per month in the sports drink category across the US market, if we were to return to the bottled water case.
Measurable specifics will also enable you to keep track of the plan to see if it’s working or not, helping you understand when you might need to adjust or pivot with your activities.
4. Roles and responsibilities.
If you want to get things done, and done properly with regards to the activities in your plan your best bet is to assign tasks on an individual basis. Put person “A” in charge of the social media communications, person “B” in charge of paid advertising, person “C” project manages the campaigns etc. In this way, you ensure that there is full clarity on who is responsible for what and each individual can take ownership of their role and will be committed to it. Pay attention to accountability – remember to give praise for a job well done, be on hand to support, advise or guide if things look like they’re about to come off track and be prepared to become direct if a team member is not putting their fair share of effort in. For your marketing plan to work it is critical that everyone knows what their role is and the impact of under performance.
If tasks are clearly allocated, it makes it easier when it comes to reviewing to see who has accountability.
5. Keep paying attention.
A marketing plan is a dynamic entity. It requires constant reviewing, updating and amending to ensure it continues to meet the needs of the business it was created for. It is probably fairer to call it a marketing processes document rather than a plan because it isn’t static. Whether your plan is long or short term you wouldn’t wait till the end to check if the plan worked – you have to constantly assess your activities and tactics to see whether they are moving forward and getting you closer to achieving the initial objective.
This guest blog post was provided by Gallium Ventures, a Tech Communication Consultancy in the UK. If you don’t have time or experience in putting together a solid marketing plan, contact the team at Gallium Ventures here.