A marketing plan gives your efforts a structure and a boundary. You and your team know what you need to do and assess whether your efforts are yielding results. Without a plan, there is a risk of your actions being scattered.
There are a lot of things that go into creating a robust marketing plan. This article will discuss five key steps and components that are fundamental to a good planning process. So, let us get into the details right away.
Seven Ps of Marketing
There is a “Seven P Formula” that finds comprehensive mention in the management literature. For your marketing strategy to be meaningful, these 7 elements must be present to either of them being significant.
These seven elements of marketing are;
Your plan must include all these seven elements to be effective.
Customer Persona is the Key
A customer is central to all marketing efforts. And hence, you must supply careful attention to define the characteristics of your customers. You should figure out many factors and variables, including age, geography, income, social status, interests, profession, and many more.
Only when you have a fair understanding of your customers you can develop an effective marketing plan.
Steps to create the marketing plan
Step 1: Create SMART objectives
The key to any successful plan is the clarity of objectives. SMART objectives help you ensure that your plan is rooted in the realities and not just wishful thinking. Such goals also help you to figure out whether you are making adequate progress in the right direction.
The SMART acronym stands for;
S – Simple
M – Measurable
A – Achievable
R – Realistic
T – Time-bound
As such, these characteristics are self-explanatory. If your objectives follow these guidelines, you will define a robust marketing plan that can get concrete results.
Step 2: Optimize the buyer’s journey map based on your objectives.
Based on your objectives, you might need to alter the buyer’s journey a bit. However, it is not only the map that gets changed. Your process itself might undergo a change if you find that the buyer’s journey is not aligned with your objectives. Such process redefinition will help you make your marketing efforts more robust overall.
Step 3: Define what success looks like for you.
Once you have your objectives defined, it is time to work out the KPIs. Consider the marketing funnel and decide KPIs for each stage in the funnel. Clearly define how each KPI will contribute to the overall objectives. Decide milestones to evaluate the progress against KPIs and revise the plan based on learning.
Step 4: Decide on the channels and tools you will use to reach out to your potential customers.
There are many ways to convey your message across to your potential customers. Depending upon your market segment and customer persona, you will want to adopt all or some of these channels as part of your marketing plan. These strategies can be broadly divided into B2B and B2C strategies. Some of the B2B strategies include content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), Account-based marketing, and industry events. B2C marketing channels include paid search engine marketing, social media marketing (SMM), direct selling, and earned media. This by no means is an extensive list. You can read more about possible B2B and B2C marketing strategies here.
Step 5: Work out the budget required to achieve your objectives.
Now that you have your objectives, KPIs, and marketing channels, it is time to define the costs. First, create the budget for what you have decided so far. If you have the money to invest, that is excellent, and you can move on to the next step. If the budget is beyond what you can spend, revise the objectives, plan, and budget based on feasibility. Think of ways to raise the money if the goals are fixed.
The Marketing Plan
Now that you have everything ready, it is time to complete your plans. Break the objectives, KPIs, and budget into even smaller units. Assign responsibility for each step and outcome to right people. Explain what you want to achieve, what role each individual play in the plan, and how the entire plan will unfold. Revise and tweak the marketing plan if they have meaningful and valuable inputs. Often, they will be the ones who will make suggestions that will make the plan more realistic and achievable.
While planning is crucial, it is not the end goal. The marketing plan is there to guide your execution. If you do not execute the strategies effectively, the positive outcome will still elude you, no matter how effective your plan was.
The plan is also a dynamic document. It must change as the realities around you change. If external or internal factors change that may affect you, you must revise the marketing plan accordingly. You will also need to check if it is producing the desired outcome. Continuing with the same strategy even when consistently not producing the desired result may have an opposite effect.