Why do so many businesses fail to reach their full potential? Having a solid understanding of marketing and a documented marketing plan is a key foundation to reach your true business potential.
It’s amazing how many businesses don’t have a written business or marketing plan.
So, here are some pointers for creating a marketing plan...
A marketing plan will include such things as your business vision, targets, being clear on your proposition (what you have to offer) and who you intend to offer it to (your target market). And of course no marketing plan can be complete without a runway of marketing activity – your 12 month marketing activity calendar.
Three things to include in your 12 month marketing plan:
1.Your investment runway
Your investment runway covers bigger marketing activities. Some people call this a baseline plan but I prefer to call this out separately. This covers marketing tools that you won’t be updating or creating on a regular basis. It’s your big ticket, occasional, or one-off, marketing activities.
Things to include in this runway could be re-brand, developing a new website, developing and launching a new product, investing in a new CRM system, reviewing and improving your marketing processes and operating systems, and end-to-end review of all your communications. These are big chunky tasks that take time, thought and any improvements usually take several weeks – even months and years in some cases – to deliver.
I would also include in this runway the review, development or freshen-up of your onboarding and welcome window activities. This covers the steps in your prospects journey that are immediately pre-sale – when they are hot and ripe for conversion – and your welcome window – the window where your new client becomes truly embedded as a ‘client’.
Why do I draw specific attention to the onboarding and welcome window? It’s really quite simple: these steps are critical in your customer journey because if you lose them at this late stage in their path to purchase, all the effort you have put in to get them this far has been lost. It’s a classic way to pour revenue and profit down the drain.
Your onboarding and welcome window processes should also work slickly and every client should experience the same consistent process. Getting your onboarding and welcome window process working like clockwork will make your business more efficient and effective too - BONUS. To get this right there is some upfront thinking and hard graft, but the cost and time saving you’ll gain is likely to be significant over the medium-long term. It will also free you up to focus on your other marketing runways…
2. Your baseline runway
For me your baseline runway is your regular day-to-day, month-to-month marketing activities. It’s the steady stream of activity that you will do to keep a constant and consistent presence with your prospects. You may think of this more traditionally as ‘marketing’ activity and its objective is to maintain awareness and interest in what you have to offer.
Your baseline runway can include the massive array of marketing communications and channels available for you to use in growing your business. Attending conferences, speaking at events, networking, PR, direct mail, regular blog posts and email newsletters and of course your weekly social media plan will all fit into this runway.
I would also include in your baseline runway the creation of a steady stream of new testimonials and case studies to give your prospects proof, evidence and confidence that what you offer will deliver what they need. Case studies are really a great way to showcase exactly what you do and the results.
The key thing with your baseline runway is that it must, must, MUST be a steady flow of regular marketing delivered in the ways and places your ideal clients look, whether that’s online, offline, on a mobile device or in a broadsheet.
An important addition to your baseline runway is factoring in the regular review of your staple marketing collateral. That is things like your client brochures, web pages, any tools or calculators you may have, application forms and the list goes on. This collateral doesn’t need constant refreshing but they do need a review at least yearly (sometimes every six months) to check they are still fit-for-purpose and updated if required.
3. Your campaign runway
Over and above your investment and baseline activities you can add specific marketing campaigns.
Marketing campaigns are additional spikes in marketing activity, typically several times throughout the year. There are a host of drivers for running a campaign, but I believe there are some internal and external triggers that may help you decide on the campaigns that could be right for your business.
Externally you could have a mini-campaign just about every month for all the various events throughout the year from Valentine’s Day to Christmas! There are financial year ends, school holidays, industry events, sporting events and even country events you can build marketing campaigns around. It’s good to keep on your toes too with what external things are happening that could have an impact on your customers – you may find you have to work at pace to deliver a reactive response, and it’s never good to be caught off-guard. So think, plan and prepare for external events.
Internal drivers for campaigns could be the promotion of an event you are hosting or attending, a product launch, a celebration of your business or an achievement within your business – winning an award perhaps - a special offer, a new way to do business with you or an improvement to service, teaming up with another company, a new book, a new video, a new training programme. The list is virtually endless once you start bouncing around some ideas.
The key to a successful campaign, as with any other business activity, is allocating it proper thinking time and having a plan.
TOP TIP: create a campaign plan that sets out what your campaign is for (objective), who it’s for (targeting), what your key message is (positioning), what marketing tools are you going to use (your marketing communications mix), when and in what order, and include your customer or sales targets – otherwise how will you know if it’s worked?
And remember the 7Ps of planning...proper prior planning prevents p*** poor performance!
Happy planning! Love Jane x
p.s. Planning takes time. Don't rush it.
Jane Cuthbertson is a Chartered Marketer based in Stirling, Scotland. She is a natural problem solver with a keen eye to maximise any opportunities. She has a passion for putting herself in the buyers’ shoes to truly understand their needs and expectations. With a diverse marketing background, she specialises in setting strategic marketing plans with long-term goals and is skilled in implementing integrated marketing programmes that deliver sales results.
Main Image credit: Jack Moreh
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