In The News: How to create a marketing plan
This article originally appeared in the Worcester Business Journal on November 27th, 2017.
Houses are built with blueprints; businesses are built with plans. Plans make the difference. Creating a winning marketing plan is to work within realistic goals, resources and options. This drives results. The best, most user-friendly plans contain:
• A spreadsheet listing each activity with the corresponding budget for each item.
• A calendar of activities, themes and content distribution
• Supporting documentation explaining who, what, where, why, when and how. Even if you work alone, you’ll want detailed notes to reference when the planning process is a distant memory.
Here are the steps to build your marketing plan after you’ve identified your target audience.
1. Define goals
Decide what you realistically want to, can and must accomplish via marketing. Explain what the finish line looks like. Quantify amounts, percentages, sales volumes, growth rates, etc. Be specific about what you want to achieve.
2. Specify resources
Take inventory of your resources. What skills can you contribute? How many hours can you invest weekly? Multiply that by 4.3 for monthly. How much money can you invest monthly into programs, third-party costs and skilled labor?
3. List options & potential results
Three ways to discover options: collaborate with an expert (hire a pro for an hour or two), crowdsource information to find what others are doing in similar circumstances (Facebook and LinkedIn groups are good options), and Google. Be sure to uncover what potential result you are likely to expect from each item, and what investment is required to get it.
Determine what fits into the plan based on goals, resources and options available. Omit anything requiring large resources for small returns; beware of things promising large returns for small investments. Marketing requires resources – find things offering realistic returns for realistic investments.
5. Assemble a package
Create a spreadsheet of monthly action items, and build in all resources needed: time, skill and money (all expected expenses). Create a monthly calendar and plan when you’ll do what, based on the time available specified in step 2. If business and resources warrant it, plan weekly, or even daily. Create a companion guide detailing rationale, strategy, roles and other pertinent details.
Execute your plan, evaluating performance on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis.
7. Revise & repeat
Based on the performance metrics you discover along the way, revise your plan and adjust based on original goals. Periodically revisit the steps as your business grows, your needs and/or resources change, and as your marketing plan produces results.
Sound good? Plan to invest 40-50 hours (+/-), depending on the size and complexity of your business. If you dedicate a full day a week to it, you’ll need about five to six weeks.
Not for you? Qualified marketing experts can easily facilitate the smooth creation of a plan either by taking the lead on the project, supporting in the background, or simply doing it for you.
At the end of the day, no matter who creates it – just make sure it gets done!