Creating a marketing plan steps is a critical exercise that needs to repeat every year in order to ensure that you are following a certain, well-defined path to meet your long term brand recognition and growth goals.
Without a marketing plan in place, your brand teams will be left rudderless and this will result in a lot of wastage of precious time and financial resources without much to show in return.
But what makes most teams flounder here is that they don’t know how exactly to put a marketing plan together.
While there can be variation in the kind of specific marketing plan you require for your own niche, there are some elements that stay uniform in all marketing plans. This guide will tell you all about them and allow you to hit the ground running when you are about to create your very first marketing plan.
What is a Marketing Plan?
A marketing plan can be considered off as a comprehensive report that contains all the activities and strategies that you plan to undertake in your marketing domain for the upcoming year.
It essentially lays out all the company’s marketing efforts to communicate and promote their product or service in order to gain potential or retain existing customers.
Every marketing initiative mentioned in the marketing plan has to be in line with the company’s overall marketing strategy. That ensures everyone in the company is on the same page, leading to maximizing return on investments and achieving the company’s overall marketing objectives.
How to Create Marketing Plan Steps?
An effective marketing plan template has the following aspects,
- Executive Summary
- Marketing Goals and KPIs
- SWOT Analysis
- Target Market and Buyers’ Personas
- Marketing Channels
- Growth Strategy
- The Marketing Budget
A marketing plan outline doesn’t need to be hundreds of pages long. Therefore, marketers must summarize their entire plan and highlight all the important facets of it in the outline.
In the executive summary, you need to flesh out all the main objectives of your marketing plan to your stakeholders.
If you want to understand this in a bit more detail, have a look at this two-minute video by HubSpot that focuses on the essentials of making an executive summary.
Marketing Goals and KPIs
It’s critical for your company to have marketing goals and a defined way on how to measure them.
This way, you’d be able to see their progress, how much you’ve achieved, and how much further you still need to go. These are your key performance indicators (KPIs).
To get through this, you need to ask yourself the following questions,
- What and how would I achieve my marketing goals?
- How many sales are required to achieve those goals?
- What are KPIs crucial for achieving goals?
SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis is a structured framework for assessing the company’s position in the market. In SWOT analysis, you analyze your product or service’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
It includes all the strengths of the company. So you need to figure out
- How could you have the competitive edge you have over your rivals?
- What are your unique selling points?
- What are the unique process, capabilities, or resources you have that sets you apart?
You should need to work on the shortcomings of your product or service which is coming to a barrier in achieving your marketing goals, and ask yourself,
- Where and how do your competitors have a competitive edge over you?
- What are the potential flaws of your product or service?
Sometimes dynamic changes in the market could be game-changer. You need to work on
- How can you take advantage of the latest advancements in the industry?
It could be in the form of the latest government policies related to your business, population dynamics, social media trends, and so on.
You need to work on how you can leverage these changes to benefit your product or service and include them in your marketing plan.
It includes all the threats that could adversely affect your business. It could in the form of a new competitor or any changes in the government policies that could hurt your business. You need to work on:
- How can you stay ahead of the curve and avoid threats to negatively impact your marketing plan steps?
Target Market and Buyers’ Personas
The target market is the section of the audience you want to target.
In analyzing the target market, you make efforts to identify your potential customers. You research their demographics, age group, financial status, etc. Determine the type of audience you want to focus on and why they would be interested in your product or service.
Buyers’ personas are a more detailed version of the target market. Marketers give more distinction to the attributes of their ideal customers.
The buyers’ attributes contribute immensely to achieving the overall marketing plan. Those attributes include
- Status – The age group, title, industry, and designation.
- Perspective – What do they think about your brand? What do they need to know?
- Emotional connection – Why would they care for your brand? What are their problems?
- Their Limitations – What are the barriers? What are their fears?
- Their Need – When would they need it? The desired call-to-action that makes them buy.
Identify Your Marketing Channels
Online marketing channels have contributed immensely in helping brands achieve their marketing objectives, so creating a strategy for them has become an integral part of any marketing plan.
Here are various online marketing channels which you need to include in your marketing plan:
Content marketing is one of the impactful online marketing channels.
According to eMarketer, 60% of marketers work on at least one content piece on a daily basis.
Aberdeen reports that content marketing leaders enjoy 7.8% higher year-over-year growth.
Content marketing boosts traffic and generates leads; however, content always works on a long-term strategy. Therefore, if you adopt a content marketing strategy, you need to consistently produce unique and exceptional content for better and long-lasting results.
Social media is another online marketing channel with tons of potential to attract your target audience.
You can leverage this marketing channel to visually present your product or service.
Oberlo reports the daily usage of social media, where90.4% are Millennials, 77.5% are Generation X, and 48.2% are Baby Boomers.
By posting videos and images of your product/service on social media, you can create brand awareness and other marketing opportunities.
Moreover, adding value to your overall social media efforts will definitely help generate leads.
If you think email marketing is a thing of the past, you couldn’t be more wrong.
According to DMA, every dollar you spend on email marketing generates a $42 return on investment.
That’s why 87% of marketers leverage email marketing campaigns to reach out to their target audience, as per the Content Marketing Institute.
You should include an email marketing channel to send weekly emails and newsletters to your potential customers. For instance, you can set up automated welcome and signup emails or thank you emails when customers make the purchase.
Run Online Ads
Online advertising is one of the most crucial elements of your overall marketing strategy template. There are numerous ways you can leverage online ads as a marketing channel.
- Google Ads. When running your ads on the Google search engine, you can reach your target audience whenever they query your specific keywords. Google ads allow you to set your budget for the month and filter options to search for the right audience. You can place your ads based on the location, demographics, among others.
- Social Media Ads. You can also post your ads on social media platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Quora, and Pinterest. According to Statista, social media ads’ impressions increase by 20% every year. That’s a gold mine for marketers to leverage social media to generate leads.
Utilizing Offline Media In Your Growth Strategy
Once you’ve aligned your marketing goals, pricing strategy, and KPIs, you need to plan your marketing budget for the next year.
Determine what marketing channels you need to focus on, based on the ROI and profit margins. In modern times, most marketers utilize digital marketing channels, and that’s okay. However, you should never underestimate the power of offline media in your marketing plan.
Sometimes the use of ads on magazines and brochures can be quite effective in the modern world. There are numerous ways you can leverage offline media in your marketing plan including,
- Brochures and leaflets.
- Direct mail marketing
- Loyalty programs
- Sponsoring an event or venue
- Billboard ads
We highly recommend trying at least once to measure their outcomes. Always ensure to align all the marketing activities with the overall marketing plan.
The Marketing Budget
A marketing budget of your product/service can highly impact your overall marketing plan.
Here are some of the factors that you need to work on:
The marketing budget of your product or service is highly dependent on the business lifecycle stage. Whether you’re a startup or an established name in the market is the decisive factor in budget planning.
Startups have a hard time making a name for their brands; they mostly choose a penetration strategy to establish their place in the competitive market. They earn lower returns on investments in order to attract buyers, while well-reputed brands would work on customer retention by delivering their brands as per their standards.
The outcome of your spending isn’t static. Don’t keep your hopes up to get the same outcome spending on different marketing channels.
For instance, if you invested $10,000 to generate 500 leads on social media, t doesn’t mean that it will happen on other channels.
You need to set up a budget for different marketing channels based on their return on investments and profit share.
There can be no perfect, one size fits all approach to creating marketing plan steps. Every niche is different so the details contained in each marketing plan have to be aligned with the brand operating in that niche and its goals.
The best marketing plans are those that mention exactly what you want to achieve and how will you achieve that. If the process towards achieving your final marketing goals is laid out in detail in your marketing plan steps, then the only thing you need to do to ensure success is to keep yourself and you’re aligned with the plan throughout the year.
The best brands in the world all have highly detailed marketing plan steps and it’s high time that you too create one for your business so that it can reach its growth targets in due time.