Part two of our advice for creating a successful marketing plan looks at how you can use your market and customer research, goals and objectives to devise your strategy, tactics and a plan for execution. If you missed our first post, you can read it here.
Your strategy will be in line with your main mission statement. It is also how you are going to achieve your marketing goals and objectives. Strategy should be based on a long term view of achieving your goals, out of which you can begin to create shorter term tactics to achieve your objectives. You will be able to use your market overview research and SWOT analysis to help you devise the best strategy.
Think about the approach you want to take in all areas of your marketing applicable to your business: advertising, promotion, PR, social media, customer relationship management and your website content, to name a few. For example, to fulfil the goal of “create more awareness”, your strategy could be “feature regularly in media through advertising, social media and PR”. An example of how fulfil the objective of “increase customer base by 20% by the end of the year”, your strategy could be to “utilise digital marketing and track conversions”.
Tactics & execution
Once you have devised your strategy, you need to consider what way and by who it can be completed by to achieve your objectives. All the invaluable research into the market, competitor landscape and your customers will help you to come up with ideas for marketing your company and what channels to use. Brainstorming with your team is a helpful way to get started; at this stage no idea is a bad idea, get as many as possible for a varied list.
Once you have narrowed down your list of preferred tactics and researched the associated costs, a timeline of executing each activity, with specific responsibilities delegated to members of your team and regular check-ins with those with team members responsible to check progress, is crucial to ensuring the plan’s success.
Working out a budget
Deciding how much to spend on marketing can be a challenge and for small and start-up businesses, justifying the cost is difficult. However, there are many elements of marketing that only cost man hours to execute or are very low cost, so it is possible for any small business to market themselves in some way.
Start prioritising by breaking down the estimated third party or media costs of each activity and also looking at the skill set that exist within your business. You may not yet have dedicated marketing staff, but do any of your current team members have an interest in or skills in different area – digital marketing, for example? Once you have a clearer idea of what you may be able to execute with your existing resources, it will make any marketing spend go further.
Above all, always make sure you set realistic and achievable objectives to ensure you measure any marketing outreach effectively which will help you see a return on the investment. It’s important to remember that different activities will have different timelines for success and some will have a more tangible return on investment than others. For example, PR focuses on creating positive awareness over a long period of time, whereas an online display advertising or pay per click campaign can be executed quickly and measured by definite conversions.
Measuring success & reviewing your plan
A good marketing plan is a solid start to setting your company goals, objectives and measuring success, but as market conditions and consumer habits can change rapidly, a good plan is reviewed regularly and tweaked accordingly. Treat your marketing plan as a living, breathing and evolving document to ensure your company’s success. Setting realistic short term and long-term objectives aligned to your business goals is key to measuring your plan’s effectiveness.
Image by Rosaura Ochoa