Rules to Better Marketing Plans

So you’ve got a Marketing Plan, now what? Do you know how to get all of your ideas down on paper and make sure all of the time and effort doesn’t go to waste? 

​One of the most common things to happen is for companies to write a Marketing Plan, use it once, and then forget about it! So how do you avoid this common scenario? ​​​​

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  1. Do you schedule marketing meetings?

    It is very easy to take days and multiple resources to write a Marketing Plan, so it is essential that you schedule meetings to update your Marketing plan at regular intervals. After each Marketing Meeting, we recommend that you book the next meeting immediately so that you have time to plan and prepare ahead of time. This also makes your team regularly use and update your plan. ​​​

    mkt-plan-bad.png
    Figure: Bad example – Where ideas go to die, the plan falls into a black hole and is wasted!
    mkt-plan-good.png
    Figure: Good example – Pre-book your meetings, update the plan, and action!

  2. Do you have a clear mission statement?

    To ensure everyone is on the same page, you can create a mission statement that continually drives your marketing plan. Is a short statement that outlines why your organization exists, what its overall goal is and it identifies the goal of its operations, e.g. what kind of product or service it provides, its primary customers or market, and its geographical region of operation and target audience. 

    A good mission statement can help in three main ways: 

    • It provides an outline of how the marketing plan should seek to fulfill your overall goals/mission 
    • It provides a means of evaluating and screening your marketing plan; e.g. are your daily marketing decisions consistent with the overall mission 
    • It provides an incentive to implement the marketing plan, and keep updating and improving it
    mission-statement.png
    Figure: A clear business mission should include the purpose, value, standard behaviors, strategy, and scope of your business. Having these clearly defined allows your team to always be pushing your overall goals​
  3. Do you track your marketing strategies’ performance?

    Given most companies sink a lot of money into marketing, it’s important to know if your strategy as outlined in your Marketing Plan is working for you.​

    ​Firstly, you need to set realistic performance standards. What metrics are you going to use to measure your performance? You need to have these clearly documented in your marketing plan so that it is clear to the whole team how it will be measured and analyzed. This will dictate the way a campaign is created, its budget, and metrics.  

    One simple way of tracking this, is to collate the performance data and analyze the results. For example, a goal might be to increase the engagement on your social media pages by 6% in 6 months, to ensure you’re on track you would need to see your audience growing by 1% every month.  

    To do this, you first need to decide how frequently you’d like to collect your data. Monthly is a good cadence to start with, as it can show trends without being too labor-intensive. However, some metrics might need to be looked at more frequently to ensure you’re on track. 

    Here is a diagram outlining some of the ways you can track your performance:

    mkt-performance-diagram.png

    A simple way of tracking this, is to have a spreadsheet that holds all of your data. Measurement can be as simple or as complicated as you make it. Don’t measure simply for the sake of having some numbers to present to your upper management. If you aren’t certain what you should be measuring, ask yourself these two questions: 

    • Do these metrics support my key goals? 
    • Can I take action on these metrics (i.e., will they provide me insight into how I can improve my program)? 
    Unless you can answer “yes” to the questions above, you likely don’t need to be collecting the data — at least at first.  

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    Figure: An example of a results tracking system for marketing data, it tracks the growth and what it cost to get it!​
  4. Do you use Situational Analysis (SWOT) and Marketing Analysis?

    ​So now you have set your goals and you know how to track your performance, what’s next? For most businesses it’s important to identify your strengths and weaknesses, as well as your perfect customer. Most people do this by using Situational Analysis (SWOT) and Marketing Analysis. 

    A SWOT analysis helps identify your companies’ Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. You can see some examples in the below diagram. ​​​

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    Figure: SWOT analysis template to help you ask the big questions about your business 

    Market analysis studies the attractiveness and the dynamics of a special market within a special industry. Through all these analyses, the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of a company can also be identified.  
      
    Market analysis should cover: all trends happening in the market, your market share, a competitor analysis, your potential customers, strategy and ROI plan, last but not least, intellectual property monetization opportunities (for example patents or copyrighted materials, such as written materials like books, computer codes, designs, and more).

    conduct-mkt-analysis.png
    Figure: You should follow these steps in order to conduct your market analysis 

    The benefits of this kind of analysis mean you will have a thorough picture of your customers, competition, and yours/their strengths and weaknesses.  
     
    Some of the benefits include:

    • Knowing your market share 
    • Knowing detailed information about your competitors’ activities and strategies 
    • Intimate knowledge of who your customers and what they are looking for 
    • Latest trends 
    • Knowing your target market 
    • Design effective business strategies with high ROI 
    • Increase sales and IP licensing opportunities
  5. Do you know your 'buyer personas'?

    A buyer persona is, according to Hub​Spot, a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer. It's based on market research, actual data about your existing customers, and a few (educated) assumptions. It helps you to understand and relate to an audience that you want to market your products and services to. ​

    ​When creating your buyer persona, you should include customer demographics, behaviour​​ patterns, motivations, and goals. The more specific you can be, the better. Variations of your buyer persona would also help understand and shape strategy and communication to sell your service/product, for example: "Can only men purchase my product? Or women too? Or maybe children eventually? How old can they be? Are they only local? Can I consider selling it to other states?"

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    Figure: Example of questions you need to answer in order to identify your buyer persona​
  6. Do you know your 'Target Market' and 'Value' or 'Selling Proposition'?

    With a clearly defined target audience, it is much easier to determine where and how to market your company. Here are some tips to help you define your target market.​​

    ​1. Define your Personas, who are your current customers, and why do they buy from you? 

    • Look for common characteristics and interests.  
    • Which ones bring in the most business?  
    • It is very likely that other people like them could also benefit from your product/service. 

    ​2. Choose who to target: Who needs for your product or service, and who is most likely to buy it, you need to consider: 

    • Age  
    • Location 
    • Gender 
    • Income level 
    • Education level 
    • Marital or family status 
    • Occupation 
    • Ethnic background ​

    3​. Analyze your product/service 

    • Write out a list of each feature of your product or service. 
    • Next to each feature, list the benefits it provides 
    • Once you have your benefits listed, make a list of people who have a need that your benefit fulfils​.  ​

    4. Check out your competition 

    • Who are your competitors targeting?  
    • Who are their current customers? 
    • Don't go after the same market. You may find a niche market that they are overlooking. 

    5. Consider the personal characteristics of the person including: 

    • Personality 
    • Attitudes 
    • Values 
    • Interests/hobbies 
    • Lifestyles 
    • Behaviour​ Evaluate your decision ​​​

    6. Evaluate your decision ​​​

    Once you've decided who your target market is, ask yourself: 

    • Are there enough people who fit my criteria? 
    • Will my target really benefit from my product/service? Will they see a need for it? 
    • Do I understand what drives my target to make decisions? 
    • Can they afford my product/service? 
    • Can I reach them with my message? Are they easily accessible? ​

    Now you know your audience, you need to stand out to them.  You can do this by having a great Value Proposition featured on your website and throughout your campaigns.  

    Your Value Proposition is hands down one of the most important elements in your marketing message. It tells your potential clients why they should choose you over any of your competitors and it makes the benefits of your products or services crystal clear from the get-go.  

    It can be the key to attracting new business, increasing sales, and making your business a success. The main objective is to target specific groups of consumers to make your campaigns more cost-effective and making the promotion, pricing, and distribution of your products and/or services easier. 

    The key to this, is not burying your message in buzzwords or meaningless slogans. You need to highlight your message, and make it a focal point on your website, and marketing campaigns.  ​

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    Figure: Bad example: A Value Proposition is not a slogan! It must reflect the value of your business

    Here is an example of a great Value Proposition advertised by Stripe on their website. Their target audience was developers. Stripe makes it clear that its web and mobile payment products are specifically made for developers and tech-savvy businesses. Its APIs and tools are comprehensive, state-of-the-art, and trustworthy for businesses that demand nothing less. This statement is also aided cleverly by the image of two cell phones, each highlighting a different, well-known Stripe customer. 

    stripe.png
    Figure: Good example of a great Value Proposition by Stripe, their Target Audience here is developers. They immediately know this is the service for them! 
  7. Do you know the 4 Cs of Marketing?

    The 4 C’s of marketing can be broken down into Consumer wants and needs, Cost, Convenience, and Communication. They focus not only on marketing and selling a product but also on communication with the target audience from the beginning of the process to the very end.​

    ​The 4 P’s focus on a seller-oriented marketing strategy, which can be extremely effective for sales. However, the 4 C’s offer a more consumer-based perspective on the marketing strategy.

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    Figure: 4 C'​s of Marketing will help you segment your target market
  8. Do you know your Marketing Efforts?

    Marketing efforts are the resources you dedicate to promoting your products and services. Through marketing activities, like posting on social media, or paying for advertising, a company can create demand and interest in its items and gain greater visibility with potential customers.​​​​

    ​Before deciding on your effort or resources, you need to ask yourself some important questions: ​

    • What are your current marketing efforts? 
    • What do you need to do with your branding to get new clients?  
    • How you have to communicate on social media with all your target audience to achieve your marketing goals?  
    • Which social media platforms do you really need to use? 

    The ‘effort’ is the daily tasks you will complete to achieve your goals, for example: 

    • Planning and posting content on social media 
    • Engaging with your audience 
    • Booking photo sessions of your products 
    • Writing blog posts 
    • Researching bloggers 
    • Partners and digital influencers to work with your business 
    • Creating and managing your SEM campaigns 
    • Organizing events

    It's in this phase that you’ll basically decide on what activities you will use to help achieve your goals.

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    Figure: Examples of resources that you can use on your marketing strategy
  9. Do you know how to use your Marketing Budget effectively?

    ​There are so many ways to spend you Marketing Budget these days that it's tempting to do a lot ofdifferent things and spread your budget quite thin across many platforms. In our experience, our budget has always been better spent by picking a few things and then doing them really well. For example, we know that for us, Twitter is great for branding, but not as great at selling our Events or Services. So counter this, we do great free social media posts on Twitter and occasionally spend on targeted ads (to expand our brand), but spend more money on Facebook Ads to advertise our Training Events, because we know that our audience uses this platform the most for purchases.​​​

    ​Deciding about where to place your budget can be quite confusing, but if you’ve done your homework and identified your potential client through personas, you can work out which platforms to target to hit your audience.  
    Using your persons to target your audience will save you a lot of money in the long run, because while you’re not excluding anyone from outside of your target audience, you are honing in on someone most likely to purchase your product or service. 
     
    For example, your cost can depend on how wide your audience is if it’s local or international, and more. These details will make it possible to find the right number to align your budget with your marketing goals. Staying focused on your marketing objectives is also part of not overcoming your budget. As an example, new companies invest an average of 12 to 20% on the marketing of gross revenue, while established companies will spend between 6 to 12% of their gross revenue. 
      
    Here are some interesting demographics to consider: ​

    target-audience-table.png
    Figure: For SSW we know that our target audience is mostly men aged between 25-45, so we know for Social Media we should focus on Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn. If we had products, Pinterest & Instagram would be our best target because they are more visual.
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    Figure: According to Marketing Insider Group, the most popular platform is now LinkedIn, followed by Facebook

    Interestingly, according to Business Insider Intelligence, despite being one of the most used platforms, Facebooks’ trust ranking has plummeted over the last two years, largely thanks to “Fake News” and data use scandals. LinkedIn remains consistently dominant in the trust rankings and is still growing in size every day.​

  10. Do you maintain and update your marketing plan?

    ​​We suggest you follow up and update your metrics and results on a monthly basis to help you understand if your strategy and your marketing efforts are working.

    Every quarter you should meet with your team to present results and brainstorm on activities than can be done or you might need help with. We recommend reviewing your strategy to make sure that it is still aligned to the company’s core goals, and if no changes are required, just keep tweaking your campaigns.

    ​Annually, you can review it fully to measure your efforts and analyze budget adjustments that are needed for the next year.​