Creating A Marketing Plan For Your Business

Creating a Marketing Plan Overview

Getting the best return on investment and feeling like you are in control requires an effective plan. Creating a marketing plan is an important way to get organized. It can also help you budget for effectiveness. It can help you make the most of the money and activities you’ll invest in each year.

If you’re in a business without a plan, this article can help. The following is designed to help you build one to find more customers, earn more sales and achieve more profit.

For the Skimmers

  1. A free month by month marketing plan Excel worksheet is available via email request here
  2. Creating a marketing plan helps you get organized, focused & proactive.
  3. Know the goals you’re looking to accomplish
  4. Define the type of customers you want to find
  5. Determine who your best customers are what your ideal customers look
  6. Develop content, messages and tools to connect you to the customers you want to attract
  7. Utilize marketing channels that are more likely to get your message in front of your ideal customers
  8. Create value for those you attract that are not ready to buy to demonstrate expertise and nurture relations
  9. Find ways to collect prospect information for ongoing outreach.

The Reality

Studies show that 86% of businesses fail within the first two years and 96% fail within ten years. Why? Because of five key areas.

In other words, many businesses and business owners know how to build, sell or serve. But the other elements that make up the necessary components of business often go overlooked. Creating a marketing plan will help you manage one of the key elements of sustaining and growing your business.

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The Basics of Marketing

Marketing is essentially utilizing research, experience and communication to gain desire results. A marketing plan is comprised of stated goals, strategies and tactics designed to gain measurable objectives.  To put it another way,  marketing is understanding in clear and simple terms what you do, who cares and why.

Creating a marketing plan will help you match what you do with those that want or need what you offer.

The Audience

When creating a marketing plan, consider the target markets – the audience – that will hear, see and interact with your marketing efforts. Create messages for the customers you want.

Before we discuss the elements of your specific audience, let’s take a look as some general statistics that speak to consumer behavior in general. This will help frame the reason other areas are discussed and recommended in this piece.

Behavioral Statistics

The internet and social media plays such a large role in how consumers find, share and consume information. It’s essential that online tactics and tools play a large role in creating your marketing plan.  Marketing messaging and content development efforts should be created to help maximize visibility online. Content created for this purpose can be created once and used in many different avenues and locations. These can be email , social media posts and printed materials.

A recent study revealed that 65% of consumers using the web to find answers shared that the relevance and value of the information found is more important to them than the company that provided the information. You can bet that the same questions you receive from your prospects and customers are being asked online in search engines such as Google too.

Imagine if you could be in front the many folks who are asking Google rather than you questions that would help you showcase your experience and demonstrate why you’re a valuable solution to their needs?  With a majority of respondents to the survey saying relevance was more important than the company, you can compete for visibility online by creating relevant and valuable messaging regardless of how big or small your business.

Why does getting found by those asking questions matter for your business? Because 71 percent of those surveyed said they make their buying decisions prior to contacting a company. Seven out of ten folks said they are doing their own research, getting the information they need to make an informed decision on what and where to buy before talking to any salesperson.

Online Activity Leading to Offline Sales

While it may be easy to dismiss investments into web content as being only for companies that actually conduct sales online, consider this next statistic. 78% of searches conducted on a cell phone resulted in sale offline. This statistic illustrates how important online visibility is and how that visibility needs to be designed for all types of devices. We live in the age of instant gratification and can longer dictate when information is delivered – or where for that matter. Consumer behavior trends are important to a marketing plan and respecting the use of the phone and what it can mean to brick and mortar businesses or local service businesses is key to earning new sales opportunities.

And speaking of sales opportunities, studies do show that only 3% of customers at any given time are ready to buy what you’re offering. Seven percent would consider buying but don’t have it top of mind. That leaves nearly 90% of all consumer activity outside the ready to buy mode. This means efforts and tactics that are only designed for the instant sale misses the opportunity to connect and build relationships with 90% of the consumer market.

And finally, when it comes to nurturing customer relations and being a valuable resource for the researching consumer, this last stat should get your attention. For every $92 spent on advertising and marketing getting people to notice a business, on average only $1 is spent on conversion tactics.  To use a specific example, for every $92 spent on digital advertising to bring traffic to a website, only $1 is spent on the content, presentation, lead capturing elements and overall value to the consumer within the website’s landing web page. Why is this important? Because showing expertise, experience and overall capability to answer questions and provide value to the customer is an important element in earning new business opportunities.

So how do you do that?  By creating a marketing plan that includes relevant, valuable content.

Creating a Marketing Plan with Quality Content

  1. What is Content?  Content is anything you create that conveys information, relays a message, tells a story or demonstrate features and benefits to help you communicate to prospects and customers.  Content can existing in a variety of forms, like words, photos, video, illustrations, sounds or graphs. It could be a printed brochure, a blog post, a web page or tv commercial.  Content can be sales orientated or simply informational. Simply put, content is something you’ve created that will help relay information to an audience.
  2. What is Quality Content?  Quality is in the eye of the beholder. So to best determine what is meaningful, valuable and relevant you must first decide who it should be meaningful, valuable and relevant for. And an easy place to start from is to examine your existing customers.Take a look at your current customers or clients and develop a list of who are your best and who you’d label your worst. Which types do you want more of and which do you want to attract less of. Once you have some lists, examine the lists and see which factors are similar among customers or clients in each list. Look at things like size, age and numbers of locations. Consider whether it’s individual decision makers or  committees that puts the client on a specific list. Perhaps the distance from your shop or some other factor that you can measure is key.  By evaluating the business you’re already doing and try to understand what makes a good and bad customer, you can start to build out a list of criteria that will help you see the ideal customer or client you’re looking to attract.  With that type of information, you can then start to build resources, marketing messages, materials and budgets to appeal to and be found by those types of customers.
  3. Where Does Quality Content Come From?  the best content is created from experience. Using customer experiences can be a fantastic starting point to create meaningful, relevant and valuable content that can help form new customer connections from your marketing efforts. Utilizing this content in your marketing plan can help assure you’re using the experience from previous customer experiences to help new customers navigate the path to find answers to questions they have about your product, service or industry.Some topics to consider when creating content for use in your marketing efforts are those that are most often asked of you by those in the buying process. Most common topics relate to price, performance and problems. Comparing options can be a good source of information. Using reviews and testimonials makes for strong and valuable content as the things you know when seeking a product or service, especially if there are regular topics that come up in conversations with customers.Essentially, anything that can help show you are knowledgeable, helpful and experienced to help solve a problem will serve you well in developing content.  Creating through the lens of what your ideal customers or clients ask you or are needing for information will make your marketing more focused and your marketing plan more effective.For a fantastic overview on creating quality content, visit Marcus Sheridan’s site at The Sales Lion.  

Putting the Marketing Plan Together

With an idea of who the best customers are and the type of messaging and content that would be most meaningful to them, deciding and organizing where to focus your effort is the next step. Options on where your efforts and money can be spent on are referred to as channels. Channels are simply the method or path by which your business uses to find new customers. TV is a channel. So is radio. Direct mail, email and social media are all channels. If you have a physical location that customers visit, your windows and lobby are channels. Your receipts and company newsletter could be a channel. Basically, inventorying all the ways in which your messages can be delivered to the people you want to talk to are channels. When you’re creating a marketing plan for your business, you’ll want to utilize your content through channels.

A Worksheet for Creating a Marketing Plan

Request Worksheet

We’ve developed a marketing plan worksheet you can use to organize your messages, goals and channels and you can request it by email here.

Worksheets like the one we’ve put together can help you be more consistent, proactive and prepared to utilize your marketing budget and tactics in meaningful ways. It will help you create a marketing plan you can visualize, organize and change throughout the year.

The marketing worksheet we’ve prepared combines products & services (how you make your money) with your monthly themes & goals and the channels you’ll use to be organized and effective. Themes and goals are the focus points of your marketing messages for a given time or effort. For instance, back to school may be the theme for your retail store in August. If you’re a credit union or bank, spring time may be best for auto loans and home equity while the fall season may be best for home repair and debt consolidation efforts.

Utilizing your seasonal calendar with your overall sales goals will help you look ahead and know what you should be planning to focus on throughout the year, what content and tactics to use and where to spend time and money getting your message out.

Renting vs. Owning an Audience

The channels you utilize throughout the year can be for audiences you rent (paid advertising) vs audiences you own (a marketing list).

If you pay to use a channel, you’re essentially renting access to that audience. When you stop paying, the messaging stops and the audience is no longer accessible to you. Advertising on television or radio is example of renting and audience. You pay for spots and your commercials run When you stop paying, the commercials stop.

When you collect email addresses, build a following on social media and other similar actions, you are building an audience that you own.  For the sake of simplicity, these are audiences you can communicate and connect with without paying to do so.

How does renting or owning audiences factor into creating a marketing plan? Tactics that rent audiences can most certainly be effective. There’s a cost associated with that activity. Lowering the cost to reach those audiences increases your ability to be effective using less money to do so.

Converting Rent to Own

One of the key advantages to growing a list you own of prospects and customers is the ability to nurture deeper relationships and expand their awareness of what you offer and what value it is to them.  Marketing to your list on a regular basis is a great way to keep top of mind awareness, build more referrals and cross promote additional products and services to your customers. When you create a marketing plan, be sure you’re building in ways to build your list.

Common ways of building a list that you can own and market to are special offers from your website, contests, events and extra savings in exchange for email addresses.  Using a paid channel to bring attention to your offer, event or contest is a strategy that will help you build your list.  It may cost you money to get the customer information the first time but collecting an email allows you to continue communicating to that same person without having to spend additional money to do so.

Marketing Plan Summary

Creating a marketing plan for your business can be an effective way to get organized, be proactive. Using your experience can help you find new customers and grow your business. The key to an creating a marketing plan that works is having it be realistic. Key in on the type of customers you want to find and understanding why you add value to their needs.  Knowing what makes up your best customers will help you find the type of customers you want. With that information, you can develop content, messages and tools to connect with them. The majority of customers you draw the attention of will be not ready to make a purchase at that instance. Find ways to collect their information for ongoing outreach. This will help you get a greater return on investment for plan you develop and execute.

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