How to Construct a Marketing Plan

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Let’s focus on ensuring that your organisation isn’t guilty of delivering random acts of marketing. If you’re not familiar with this expression, it’s a view point taken of marketing activities feel disjointed, confusing to the audience and with no little connection between them. One of the most common mistakes to make when it comes to investing more time and money into marketing is forgetting to build it as part pf a longer term plan. Don’t just look a month or two into the future, but instead consider 12 months or more.

It’s very easy to get caught up with the potential returns you might get from running a promotion, creating an email campaign or putting on a customer event that week or that month. However, if you’ve not thought about the longer term view of things and how one activity can join to the next, as well as define the objectives of your campaigns, you lose the ability to:

  1. Evaluate the success of an activity and measure your ROI. How will you know if it was a success or whether it was worth repeating?
  2. Create momentum and join activities together. Marketing activities genuinely do “snowball” and leave a cumulative effect on your audience.
  3. The audience can lose interest or get confused by the messaging if the things your organisation is saying all seem very different or not connected.

We always recommend planning out your marketing projects at a high level on a rolling 6-12 month period. Think about the theme and the content of what your promoting/ communicating to your audience and try and find ways to link them together – you want to take your customer on a journey finishes with them “transacting”. You can read our article on creating a customer journey to find out more about that subject.

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Stage 1 – Set Your Goals

Marketing plans can be as complicated or as straight forward as you feel comfortable with, but the essential way to approach them is to always start by defining your business goals and objectives. For example if you want to acquire 100 new customers or sell 5 new products then those become the core top level objectives of your sales and marketing plan. By always starting with this you then select a marketing tactic or series of tactics that are specifically chosen to help you achieve that. Saying “let’s do some more social media” and then try and tie it back makes it impossible to know whether you succeeded in that activity as your objectives weren’t clear. If you can’t assess success (or failure) how can you know what to do more of?

Stage 2 – Know Your Audience

So now you’ve defined your objectives, the next phase in planning your marketing approach is to know your audience. Before you can decide what tactics are going to be appropriate you’ll need to go back to the analysis of defining your customers. If you know what you’re trying to achieve you need to understand the type of person that makes up your potential customer for this objective and therefore how you might reach them. For example what age group are they? What gender are they? Do they use social media a lot? Are they affluent? Whatever information you can define as part of this objective will help significantly when it comes to choosing what approach to take.

Stage 3 – Agree a Call to Action

In order to achieve the objective you’ve set and reach the audience you’ve defined, you need to decide what is the CTA (call to action) that will make them act. If you’ve set an objective or selling 10 specific products to a certain group, then perhaps you decide that the call to action you want to promote is offering a “free trial”. By taking this approach you would promote a trial offer or limited time promotion to encourage a low commitment transaction with little cost. The end result of course being that x% of those trials are happy and they pay for the “full” product or service.

Stage 4 – Agree your Call to Action Metrics

This is done in a couple of ways but is crucial to knowing whether your marketing campaign was a success. Firstly from your agreed call to action, you need to define how many times that needs to be engaged with in order to achieve the end objective e.g. how many trials will you have to give away to get 10 sales. Perhaps for every 50 trials, 10 people buy. Use past data and any other analytical insight you have to help improve accuracy.

Stage 5 – How to Get it Out There

You know your objectives, your audience and what you feel will give you a compelling message and now you need to define the ways in which you’re going to it heard. This is where you define the ways in which you feel you can effectively promote your message and CTA. In this example, perhaps a trial is taken online and therefore you know that you’ll need to ensure to make this easy for your prospect customer to use. Therefore, things like web banners, social media and email might be good options. If you have an appropriate email database of 1000 and know that you normally get 10% open rate then you know potentially 100 people could see this. If you get a 10% CTR (click through rate) typically then maybe 10 people would visit your website and trial this offer? You’ve just found a possible way to get 10% of your CTA metrics. How could you use social media/ telesales or any other method and what results could you expect?

Stage 6 – Budget

Before you pull the trigger, check your budget. How much will your plan cost you and how much will you make in sales? If your marketing plan costs you £1000 to do and your goal is to sell 10 products at £1000 each then your total return would be £10,000. Therefore, if you were to hit your objective, your ROI (return on investment) rate would be 10:1. However, if your plan costs £8000 and your return is £10,000 you need to be more careful given the lower margin of profit after spend. Be sure to know how competitive your market is and how risky you feel your approach is.

Stage 7 – Measure and Analyse

Almost any type of marketing can be measured in some way and that measurement is essential in knowing how well your campaign performed. The more you know where success came from, the easier it is to repeat and invest further in. The same goes for failures. Examples:

  • Your email campaign was only opened by 7 people and 4 people clicked but all 4 of them downloaded the trial. 3 of them purchased. This email cost you £0. You sold £3000 from this.
  • You spent £1000 on advertising which generated 20 trials and 6 purchases of the full product. You sold £6000 from this.

In this instance whilst your advertising clearly generated twice as much revenue in sales, it also had a lower late of ROI and therefore more investment needed to achieve the results. Could you find a way to further optimise your email strategy to increase the success given it’s zero cost? Find the right balance between these things and your objectives and more often than not, your marketing spend will be positively returned. Fail to set goal and fail to measure and you’ll end up throwing good money after bad.

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