When it comes to your annual holiday you want to make sure it all goes smoothly, and why not, it’s the culmination of 12 months hard slog. A chance to put your feet up, relax and re-charge.
Generally, you spend time working out where you want to go and when, how you’ll get there and what you’ll do when you arrive. It’s all about minimising the risk of anything going wrong and maximising the enjoyment you’ll get out of the adventure.
But too many companies don’t put the same amount of time and effort into marketing planning to ensure their business succeeds.
To help you get a better handle on areas where you could probably improve your focus, get more from your marketing planning activities and minimise the risk of failure, I’ve put together these 12 steps:
- Lay the groundwork: To create a successful marketing plan you need to understand the marketing landscape and the best way forward is through a marketing audit and review. This should focus on the 3 x C’s of Company, Customers, Competitors, any environmental factors that could affect your business and market trends. Some of the questions to ask include: Who is my ideal customer? why do they buy our products? Who are our main competitors? What internal issues are blocking success? What makes us different?
- Plan for success: Having a written marketing plan that everyone in the company understands and buys into, probably puts your business in the minority and that’s an advantage worth having over the competition. Your plan should be seen as a living document, it’s there for guidance and to keep the business moving in the right direction. Yes, it will change over time as events on the ground dictate, that’s the norm and it will act as an aid in decision making.
- Decide the outcome you want: SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timed/Targeted) objectives will drive your marketing outcomes. Generally, objectives focus on either revenue or profitability e.g. You want to increase revenue from Product X by 20% per month. Product X retails for £1,000 and you currently sell 100 per month (£100k). From your analytics you know that your conversion rates are 20%, therefore to get £100k per month you need to create 500 leads per month. Therefore to increase your revenue to £120k per month you need to generate 600 leads per month. This information will drive your marketing activities.
- Create the tools for success: It’s all about content because content drives the internet, affects SEO, drives lead generation and improves branding and positioning. So get a content marketing creation plan in place to create the type and mix of content your customers prefer and be sure to match it to the stages of the buying process.
Note: Content marketing is not just publishing the occasional blog post
- Get your business found through search engine marketing (SEM): Are you comfortable with your knowledge of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)? How a business gets found organically online has changed dramatically over the last few years as Google continually tweak their algorithm to punish those trying to game the system. If you have a business where people can visit you, make sure you have a Google My Business account, you know about Local Search and understand that Google is moving towards a “Mobile First approach” as can be seen from the recent updates Google has just announced. And don’t forget about paid advertising options, you might not like it or agree with it but PPC works and it can be on stream very very quickly.
- Remember your mobile audience: Mobile search is on the increase, you can check this via your Google Analytics package, and having a mobile enabled website is a ranking factor in mobile search results. According to Google, 51% of users who use their smartphone are more likely to make a purchase. So if you’re in the process of getting a new website built think first about how it looks on a mobile device rather than a desktop and if your developer say’s otherwise, get a new developer.
- Understand the buying process: Only 5% of first time visitors to your site are in buying mode so make it as easy as possible for those people to do business with you, don’t ask for too much information on your online forms and have your contact details on every page of your website. Make sure you have plans in place to try to engage the 95% of visitors who won’t buy (yet) but may do so in the future. Offer them the opportunity to sign up for your enewslettter or blog, offer an ebook or access to a webinar in exchange for their email address so that you can nurture those leads towards a sale. But mostly just make sure your website has great, customer focussed content, looks good and is easy to navigate, then there’s more chance that they’ll revisit.
- Create the offer: Your offer won’t be applicable to all segments of your audience so don’t take a mass media approach, position the offer and your message towards those who need your solution and explain your value proposition. Make sure you have a clear Call To Action and if you’re driving traffic to a website, make sure you’ve created a specific campaign landing page (for each campaign). Don’t forget to offer the option to re-engage through your Thank You page after a conversion.
- Use social media to amplify your message: Distribute and promote your offer via the social media platforms appropriate to your audience. Make it easy for them to share your content and to engage with your product or service by having social media share icons on your site. The reality today is that if you really want to get seen on social media sites you need to seriously consider the paid options.
- Implement the plan: Refer to your SMART objectives and understand the balance between your offline and online marketing activities. Make sure they are both working together, online marketing is a great way to drive traffic to face-to-face event registrations and to keep delegates informed and updated, pre and post event.
- Manage the leads: Make it easy to engage with those who want to do business (don’t make them jump through hoops). Try and persuade those who don’t initially buy, to sign up/download/subscribe to events or enewsletters etc. By capturing those email addresses you can nurture many of those leads to become paying customers through email marketing.
- Measure for success: Set your KPI’s and business metrics at the objectives stage and monitor progress on an on-going basis. This can be done through your web analytics package and this is now offered by many social media platforms. This will tell you what’s working and what isn’t and enable you to quickly make changes where necessary. Remember, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.
Marketing planning is a requirement that should be high on the priority list of all businesses. Sadly, that’s not always the case and in many instances, this is down to lack of time, resource or expertise. But if you want your business to continue to prosper in a competitive marketplace you either need to make the time or bring in outside resource to help.
You can access senior level marketing expertise either through my Marketing Support Services or Freelance Marketing Director service. I can help you with your Marketing Strategy or any other aspects of Digital Marketing, so get in touch, call 01803 413481 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime take a moment to download my ebook Developing a Digital Marketing Strategy