Whether you have a marketing professional on staff or wear the marketing hat yourself, it’s crucial to have a marketing plan in place to help guide your strategy for getting the word out about your company. Without a plan, you potentially waste time and money on promotions, advertising and marketing that don’t help you reach your goals. Your marketing plan doesn’t need to be polished and perfect, but should include these essential five must-have features.
Attainable Goals and Timeline. If you don’t know where you’re going, you can’t plan your route. Marketing goals should be reasonable, measurable and specific. Some possible goals include increasing website traffic by a certain percentage, having a certain number of customers utilize a printed coupon you sent out or boosting online sales by a specific amount. It’s also important to set a timeline to achieve your goals, so you can more easily track if your on goal or need to make adjustments mid-year, mid-month or anytime within your goal’s time frame.
Intel on Your Competition. Your business doesn’t operate in a vacuum, and what your competitors are doing has a direct affect on what you should be doing. Study your biggest competitors to find ways to differentiate yourself from them. Check out their website, browse their social media pages, sign up for their e-newsletters and read their circulars. By studying your competition, you also get a pulse on the industry to learn what customers want and how you can deliver that for them.
Well-Defined Target Audience. It’s hard to make a plan for marketing if you don’t know who you should or want to reach. Some marketers like to create customer personas by looking at key traits of a large segment of your audience. You can also determine your key audience based on your own knowledge of your business. Your target audience can include more than one group, which is called segmentation and is an excellent way to better reach your customers with more personalized content.
Marketing Channels. This is the tactical part of your plan. The channels you choose to use for marketing will depend on the three aspects above—your goals, competition and target audience. If your goal is to increase website traffic, including social media in your marketing plan can help drive customers to your website. If your target audience isn’t on social media, however, that could be a waste of your time and effort. Your options for marketing channels are broad and can include email, advertising, social media, print, radio and TV, website, events and public relations.
The Right Tech Tools. Any good plan should also include the tools to help see that plan through. When it comes to marketing, a plethora of tools exist for staying organized, assigning roles within the plan and managing everything from social media posts to email newsletters. A study by Gartner found that 87 percent of marketers rely on tech tools, which are known in the industry as martech. Some of the most popular tools for marketing include G-suite, Asana, Slack, Hootsuite and Marketo.