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A major challenge for companies nowadays is defining, in an assertive manner, which strategies will be used to attract new customers and establish their brand in the online universe. This is where the marketing plan comes in.
Regardless of the company’s size, everyone should take the time to create a comprehensive marketing plan. Only then, will they know exactly what to do in order to expand their market share.
In order to build a good set of strategies for your business, we have created this complete guide with all the steps to creating your own marketing plan. Check it out!
What is a marketing plan?
A marketing plan is a company or business’ planning of marketing actions, putting in place short, medium and long-term objectives and goals. This planning can be done for the company in general, or for a product and/or individual services.
It’s a mistake to think that the marketing plan should only be done by medium and large companies. Every business, including those that are starting now, needs an action plan to achieve goals, grow and win over new customers. Marketing marketing PowerPoint templates can also help you in creating a comprehensive marketing plan.
A marketing plan, done effectively, will help your business understand the market in which it’s inserted, especially about who their competitors are and what they do differently.
For example, your company is just getting started and you have decided to invest in content marketing in order to obtain organic traffic. The first step is to produce optimized content, right? But this alone isn’t enough.
Within the action plan, the content strategy will take shape, which will make it more assertive. You will know who the persona is, in which stage of the journey they are, the content’s keyword, the means of promoting this content, among several other important details.
This is the objective of a good marketing plan: deliver, with a wealth of details, each action the company needs to carry out in order to stand out in its market.
What should the plan contemplate?
In order to develop a good marketing plan, it is necessary that it contemplates certain fundamental information in order to be truly effective, which is:
- The business’ objectives and goals: A good marketing strategy should always be aligned with the established goals and objectives. In order to develop these goals, write them down in the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) goal format.
- SWOT Analysis: This analysis identifies the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in terms of competitive position, market, target audience, positioning, etc. Take the opportunity and learn how to create a SWOT Goal!
- The persona: In the marketing plan, you need to identify the profile of your potential customer and customize your marketing actions. If your business has more than one potential customer profile, create more than one persona in order to be more effective.
- KPIs: Setting key indicators is critical to monitor if the actions are working, which ones need to receive greater investment and which need to be put aside.
- Deadlines and budget: Finally, your marketing plan should contemplate each strategy’s deadline, the investment required and the expected return of the time and money invested.
Of course, this is just the beginning. A company’s action plan should come after a thorough study of the market, and unlike a briefing, which is a summarized document, the marketing plan records not only what will be done, but also the progress of what has been done.
What are the stages of the marketing plan?
Yes, creating a marketing plan isn’t the easiest task in the world. Besides studying a lot, you need to know the key steps to defining marketing actions.
Check out in detail, what your plan must have!
1. Executive summary
In order to start your marketing plan on the right foot, the first step is the executive summary. This is merely a brief introduction to the plan, which summarizes the key points and topics of the document.
The executive summary is an important point in every document that gathers a business’ action plan and has two main functions: Allow a quick diagnosis about the company and its plans, and help the reader’s understanding of the plan.
Overall, the summary covers the following details:
- Product overview
- Market and target audience overview
- Who the competitors are
- The business’ SWOT analysis
- The marketing goals and objectives
- Strategies for implementing actions
- Schedule and evaluation methods (metrics).
Although it appears at the beginning, the summary is the last part to be written. Sounds confusing? Relax! It’s the last part because it can only be written after you have analyzed, drafted and reviewed the marketing plan’s details.
After all, you don’t want to run the risk of the summary presenting something that won’t be included in the document, do you?
2. The target market’s personas
Describing the target market’s buyer persona or personas is part of the marketing plan that cannot be forgotten. Remembering that buyer persona is different from the target audience.
While the latter describes the persona’s demographic data, the former presents demographic and behavioral data. Therefore, the buyer persona serves to describe, as completely as possible, how a potential customer behaves and thinks when it comes to buying something.
The main characteristics used to determine personas are as follows:
- Gender and age
- Where they seek information
- Challenges and problems faced
- Shopping habits and what influences them.
But why is it so essential to include the buyer persona in the marketing plan? Because only then can you determine which strategies should be placed in the plan, as well as the tone and style of the content and marketing actions.
So as to avoid creating a persona based on “guesswork”, we’ve listed three tips to map out who your major potential customer is.
- If your business already has an audience on social media and your website, use tools such as Google Analytics and Facebook Insights to capture real data about the majority audience.
- Also, observe your competitors’ audience.
- Conduct surveys with the target audience to better understand their habits and to create the persona based on this.
The important thing is for everyone to have a clear image of who the customer is and how to solve specific problems by using marketing!
3. Marketing strategies
After understanding your business’ persona, it’s time to describe the strategies that will be established in order to achieve your objectives.
Thanks to the growth of online promotion channels, there are thousands of marketing strategies that can be implemented immediately.
But, it’s critical that this be determined wisely, taking into account the persona and its stage in the buying journey, so you don’t choose channels your audience doesn’t use.
A few examples of marketing strategies are:
- Blog and rich materials (content marketing)
- Social media
- Rich materials
- Video channel
- Sponsored links
- Email marketing
In the marketing plan, the strategies can be placed as follows:
- Which content formats will be created, such as blog posts, videos, infographics, ebooks, posts on social media, etc.
- The quantity, which can be described by daily, weekly, monthly or even quarterly flows. It will all depend on the established workflow and the defined goals.
- Who will create the content, which can be done internally or by third parties (freelancers)?
- The distribution channels, such as a blog, social media, landing pages, YouTube channel, paid traffic, etc.
Remembering that each business requires different strategies. So, study your market and your audience thoroughly in order to choose the best ones!
4. The buyer’s journey
In order for the marketing actions to work and achieve the plan’s objective, it’s critical that you know all the stages your persona goes through before effectively making the purchase.
Only by doing so, will you be able to create good marketing strategies, reaching the right audience at the right time, getting more people to know your business and the benefits of purchasing the product/service being sold.
This process can be divided into three parts.
At this stage, customers still haven’t become aware of the existence of a problem that needs solutions. Usually, they have questions about the matter and are becoming aware of the problem, even if they still don’t understand what it’s about.
Here, customers are already aware of their problem and are looking for solutions. Since they still don’t have enough knowledge about the matter, their search is for more thorough information, i.e., more specific content.
At this stage, potential customers already know exactly what they need to solve their problem. They also start weighing the options available, so it’s essential to also show them success stories and recommendations from other customers for your business to be chosen.
Next in the marketing plan, we have the list of competitors. This research and inclusion in the planning will help not only to identify who they are, but what they are doing, how your business can enter the market and ideally, beat them.
It’s very important to take the time to do precisely that. By immersing yourself as much as possible into the strategies they use, you can easily identify your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, in addition to great opportunities to be filled.
To map out your competitors and what they are doing, include the following in your marketing plan:
- If they have a marketing team, and if so, who the leader is;
- What the marketing strategy is (if they invest in content marketing, paid traffic, videos, etc.);
- What their sales strategy is (price charged, form of delivery, guarantees offered, support, etc.);
- Analysis of the growth of their marketing strategies (which can be done with tools, such as SEMRush and Buzzsumo).
Each competitor has its own particularities. For example, while one might have a good ranking in search engines, another might have a strong presence on social media.
Observe, learn and write down these points in order to learn from them and improve your plan!
6. Metrics (KPIs)
Every good marketing plan describes which metrics and key indicators will be tracking the plan’s progress. To do so, the plan must determine the main KPIs for each strategy.
The first step in identifying performance indicators is having clearly mapped out objectives.
Plus, avoid defining very generic KPIs, such as gaining more followers on Instagram, writing more articles for your blog, creating more videos, increasing the retention rate, etc.
Metrics must be specific, because they are what determine whether the strategy should remain the same or not. The impact is too great to be done haphazardly.
Always think about specific numbers and deadlines. For example, if your business is just getting started, a few primary KPIs might be:
- Increase the number of leads by X%
- Increase the website’s traffic by X%
- Acquisition cost per lead
- Conversion rate
- ROI (Return on investment).
Other secondary KPIs, which are also interesting, might be:
- Growth in the number of the email list subscribers
- Number of blog visitors and users
- Cost per visitor
- Source of traffic (organic, paid, direct, etc.)
- Page rank;
- Bounce rate;
- Social media interactions.
7. Execution schedule
A good schedule will be like a clock establishing when each action will be performed, besides being essential to defining the timing of the actions.
The schedule doesn’t only tell you when everything will be carried out, but also the efforts necessary and even who will carry out each action.
Now that you know what is going to be done and when, you also need to include how it will be done.
The how also involves having a defined budget, to ensure that you don’t exceed the investments and damage your business.
But, don’t be tied down to fixed deadlines and budgets. The marketing plan can and should change according to changing circumstances.
Review and update whatever is necessary to keep your plan on the right track.
Tips on how to put the marketing plan into action!
A good marketing plan involves many details; after all, this is the document that guides your business’ entire advertising strategy. But, there’s no point in doing all of this planning if you don’t put it into practice.
Below, check out the 5 essential tips to put your marketing plan into action and ensure that all of your actions will pay off!
From time to time, review the plan’s foundation
Even with all your hard work to find and determine your personas, the strategies used to approach them, your business’ strengths and weaknesses, determining what your marketing actions will be, and all the other aspects of your plan, don’t think that it’s something static.
As mentioned earlier, the marketing plan can and should be reviewed if necessary.
This review helps you understand what you got right and where it is worth investing more. As well as adding strategies found along the way that can help you search for a higher ROI.
Outline strategies to retain customers
The marketing plan is usually focused on gaining new customers, but you also need to worry about retaining those that you have already won over. This is by far the most economical strategy with the best chances of success.
Invest in relationship marketing to ensure not only customer loyalty, but also their satisfaction.
Create actions to keep in touch with your customers, present new upsell options or even offer a free bonus.
Think about actions to deal with dissatisfied customers
Dissatisfied customers are a problem for any business. And they are inevitable.
Whether it’s because of a negative experience while shopping or poor service, these customers will demonstrate their dissatisfaction in some way. There are several channels for this, such as your own social media or Pissedconsumer.com.
Without strategies to deal with potentially dissatisfied customers, they will become an even bigger problem, driving away new and old buyers. Therefore, think about actions to deal and get around these problems, such as investing in Customer Experience.
Find strategic partners
In order for the strategy to bear fruit faster, it’s critical to have partners to win over new customers and introduce yourself to a new audience.
When it comes to marketing, there are several types of partnerships, such as to capture customers, guest posts, rich materials in collaboration, etc. Always look for partners who have a similar audience and sales process.
Would you like to learn how to develop strategic business partnerships? Check out our article explaining how this strategy works and how to put it into practice.