What is a Marketing Plan?
Last week we discussed What is a Marketing Strategy, once you have the overall strategy mapped out it is time to focus on the ‘plan’ i.e. how you are actually going to promote your business.
“A marketing plan is a comprehensive document or blueprint that outlines a business advertising and marketing efforts for the coming year. It describes business activities involved in accomplishing specific marketing objectives within a set time frame.” Wikipedia
Your business needs a marketing plan to help you find and keep customers, think of your marketing plan as the roadmap for growing your business. Together with your marketing strategy you will identify who you are targeting, how you are going to reach them and how you are going to retain them.
Your marketing plan is going to include all the tactics for marketing your business and with my clients I break it all down into monthly and weekly tasks so you can actually implement your ideas.
Let’s look at how to build your own marketing plan, one that is efficient and will help grow your business.
When you created your strategy you should have identified your overall goals, for each of these goals you will brainstorm possible tactics to achieve these goals. Look at a wide variety of tactics from different industry’s, not just your own. Think creatively and try to think about tactics that your competition is not utilizing. The strengths and opportunities sections of your SWOT Analysis will come in handy when you are brainstorming. Wondering what the latest marketing trends are -> check out Marketing Trends for 2018.
Add all your ideas into this Marketing Idea Planner, so you can evaluate which ideas to start with.
How much time you have?
It is really important that you identify how much time you have to work on these ideas, before you start selecting your ideas. Do you realistically have 5 hours a week to dedicate to promoting your business? Or is more like 2 hours? Maybe this is your side hustle and you only realistically have 1 hour to dedicate. Be honest with yourself here. If you create a plan that involves a bigger time commitment than you have, it will just leave to guilt and avoidance.
Even if you only have 1 hour per week to dedicate, it doesn’t mean that you can’t grow your business. It just means that you need to pick ideas that have a small time commitment and big impact. When you have less time, you need to be more strategic in where you spend your time. When you are strategic, instead of all of the place with your marketing, you will see results. It is hard to see results when you have a small time commitment and you are using that time on activities that have little impact or just doing a little bit here and there with no plan of how it all comes together.
Rank you ideas
On the marketing idea planning template you will rank your ideas based on 7 criteria, ideas with a higher score will be tackled first. Read more on how to use the template here.
Your ideas could be:
Post weekly content on your blog
Increase traffic from pinterest by using a strategy and dedicated software (i.e. Tailwind App)
Engage community with Facebook and Instagram live posts
Publish X articles on reputable websites
Start a youtube channel
Start a podcast
Be interviewed for X podcasts
Theme your year
Make your job easier by theming the content you are going to create for the year. Start by identifying any big launches you are planning, or times of year when you are selling your services. For example, a wedding planner will probably know when they receive the most bookings therefore their content will be more focused on selling their services during those times. Get all those themes on your calendar. Fill in the rest with topics that are applicable to your audience. It is easier to brainstorm content ideas when you have somewhere to start.
Your themes could be:
Planning/goal series in January
[Question that you are often asked] in February
Sales focused content in March
Bring your ideas and themes together
Now that you have a list of ideas and your list of themes, bring both of these together and start matching the ideas to your themes. Some of your marketing ideas will not fit a specific theme, because they are more overarching. Plan on doing these ideas when you have more time, i.e. your slow season.
I like to write down my overarching business goals and then start matching those to the themes and the ideas. Some of the ideas won’t fit in with your current business goals, that is okay, save those for later. The idea here is that the themes flow into the ideas and the ideas flow into your overarching goals.
Break it down: Month by month
I like to do this in a table format, where there are 12 boxes (one for each month). Start mapping out the how of implementing your marketing plan. See example below:
Break it down: Week by week
Now in order to make this more actionable, you are going to want and break down your monthly plan into a weekly plan. This is where you are going to include the nitty gritty steps of how to actually do these things. Some of this will be repeated each month/week. You don’t need to plan out your weeks for the whole year, instead you can spend each time at the beginning of the month to do this.
On each of these weekly tasks, include how long it is going to take you. This way, you will know how many tasks to schedule based on how much time you have available. It is important to be realistic and honest with yourself. Don’t schedule 1 hour for writing a blog post each week, when you know it will take you longer. In order to be actionable, you need to be realistic.
Schedule for success
Take you weekly plan and add the tasks into your day planner, I love my Emily Ley Simplified Planner, or into Asana or your preferred task manager. This is a key part of the process, there a lot of people out there “planning” on how they will market and grow their business, but what separates them is the people who actually implement things and those who just talk about it.
At the end of each month, track your statistics. Your statistics will change based on your goals, standard things you should be tracking are:
How many website hits did you have?
How many inquires did you receive?
How many sales did you make?
Where did the inquires come from?
Social channel growth?
Blog post that brought the most traffic?
Top traffic referrer?
90 day evaluation
Every quarter you want to look at your statistics and determine how effective your strategies are. Not all marketing strategies are going to be effective, the key is to implement then tweak. It is important to try your strategies for at least 90 days before you evaluate how effective they are. One month is not enough time to gauge effectiveness.
There is no overnight success, growing your business takes time. So every quarter you want to review what is working and what isn’t. If one of your strategies isn’t working at all, you are getting zero, none, zilch return on your investment then take it out of the plan. Don’t spend your precious time and resources on something that isn’t giving you an ROI. It is OKAY to let it go.
If you decide to scrap something, go back to your marketing idea planner and try out another strategy.