Making Marketing Plans: Measure Twice, Cut Once

Marketing agency making a plan for a client.Marketing – when boiled down to the basics – is about getting your company out there and your customers in. Regardless if you run a restaurant, oversee an office, or captain a company, you can see marketing as a tool for you to increase your sales and your company. In today’s world, marketing has more options than ever, from traditional flyers to transformative social media, so what’s going to work for you? Many prospects we talk to are excited to get help into marketing and want to jump in right now. When we pump the breaks and say, “slow down, we need a plan first,” sometimes we’re met with confusion or skepticism that we need both strategy and tactics for their specific situation. This blog is for those who don’t understand the value of a good marketing plan.

Two Starting Points: Data or Discovery

So, gentle readers, let us read a tale of two marketing programs, one where the client waits while his marketers brew up a plan and another where they just wing it.

With a Marketing Plan: Performing Research

If you’re new to the marketing world, you may have never seen a marketing plan. These documents (and accompanying Powerpoint presentations, handouts, etc.) can easily run 50 pages and consist of manhours (or here more likely womanhours) of twice that. Depending on your budget and services, they can differ in content and scope, but a normal plan contains the following.

  • Research on your industry, local market, and competition.
  • An assessment of your current branding and presence, both online and off.
  • What your competition is doing that you are not (and what you could do that they are ignoring).
  • Figuring out your needs and weaknesses and solutions to them.
  • Building multiple plan options to meet your budget, level of involvement, and more.

Check out our article in the Worcester Business Journal our CEO, Laura DiBenedetto, wrote on the subject: In The News: How to create a marketing plan.

Without a Marketing Plan: Having Feelings

Okay, so instead of making a plan, your marketing team falls back on old favorites. These are the things that feel right but also lack the customization to your needs. Hope you like cookies, because the plan will be by default cookie-cutter. This isn’t to say it won’t work, but without all the research and planning, there may be oversights of potential avenues and higher risk something breaking down the line.

Two Paths: Experience and Experimentation

Now, with the initial stages out of the way, it’s time to execute the plan. Learn how making the full marketing plan stacks up against making pasta.

With a Marketing Plan: Planned Execution

After you approve the marketing plan (including any modifications or additions), it’s time to put it into effect. These often include staggered execution, such as working on branding and website in the background while rolling out social media or blogs. Due to the marketing plan, the agency already has a good idea of your target market, your voice and tone, and how to get the most in the start to ramp up the plan.

Without a Marketing Plan: Seeing What Sticks

Without a plan, what you implement is what the agency and the client can agree on. Without facts or research to back up suggestions, implementation is based off what the client thinks will work or will pay for. Experimentation can work or fail, and it can lead to friction between client and agency when things don’t pan out.

Two Outcomes: Analysis or Acknowledgement

Usually, somewhere between a quarter and a year from the initial plan, it’s time to look back on the plan. This includes finding out what did work, what didn’t work, and weaknesses in the client-agency relationship (such as communication problems, reporting, or approval). How you approach the setup will often influence these discussions.

With a Marketing Plan: Comparing Outcomes

With a marketing plan, every aspect of the marketing strategy has research and reasoning backing it up. If any part of the plan isn’t getting the expected outcome, you can look at the initial research and either figure out why or what could be changed to correct it. Since this plan is better established, you can pinpoint points of failure and correct them easier.

Without a Marketing Plan: Try Something Else

Skipping planning (and even setting up regular reassessment), this can lead to a marketing strategy only being reviewed when “a problem” is seen by your company. This can often lead to changing strategies mid-stream, abandoning marketing aspects such as social media, advertising, and more before you can see results because no initial research went into predicting

Here at Vision Advertising, we provide marketing plans as the first part as part of a comprehensive marketing campaign. We do this with all clients to ensure success with their goal and our company. Want to learn more? Contact us today to start the discussion and find out what marketing plan is right for your company and your budget. We’re a full-service marketing agency, specializing in comprehensive internet marketing – from websites to social media and everything in-between.

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About the author : Julia Becker Collins

Julia is Vision Advertising's Vice President of Marketing & Operations. She has more than 14 years of experience in marketing, event planning, and fundraising in the corporate and nonprofit world, including strategy and implementation of inbound and outbound marketing, national trade shows, public speaking, social-media management, direct marketing, Salesforce administration, and website creation. She has an MPA from Framingham State University and a BA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. When she’s not leading Vision Advertising’s marketing operations team, she can be found taking a bootcamp, yoga, or spin class, running in an obstacle race, trail running, hiking, doing just about anything outside and active, listening to one of the many podcasts in her queue, or spending time with family.

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