Guest blog post by Tricia Akins, Managing Director at Walker-Stanley Communications
You’ve launched your company and website. Now what? The “Build It and They Will Come” doesn’t work anymore. Clearly, marketing your company to drive prospects to your website is essential for growth. Having a plan is essential. But for many, creating a marketing plan is a daunting task. Read on for some tips to help you get started!
You may think you simply don’t have the time or skills to develop a solid marketing plan. You will never get less busy, but a solid marketing plan can save you precious time in the long run.
Before we talk about the “how”, let me quickly talk about the “why”. The “why” should convince you that carving out time to develop your marketing plan is a good time investment.
Consider these compelling reasons to create a marketing plan:
- Drive activities that grow your business:
What is the old adage? Those who fail to plan, plan to fail? Yes, Benjamin Franklin figured it out early on. A marketing plan will act as a roadmap that drives activities having the most impact on your business.
- Encourage focus:
Without a plan in place, you will have a tougher time staying on track. Your plan doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, many smaller businesses do just fine with one page business and marketing plans. Simple works better in many cases.
- Save time:
Your most precious commodity is your time. A strong plan ensures you are spending your time in the right places.
- Save money:
Without a marketing plan, you’re bound to waste money as well, because you are creating initiatives that are not thought out in terms of messaging, target audience, tactics or metrics.
- Strengthen ROI:
Without a plan, your marketing initiatives lack metrics to gauge the effectiveness.
4 Simple Steps for Developing Your Marketing Plan
Now that you understand “why” you need one, let’s talk about “how” to develop your marketing plan.
To know where you are going, you need to understand where you are. Assess where your company is today in terms of the following:
- Can you estimate the size of your market?
- Profile competitors and their marketing programs.
- How do you compare to your competition
- Identify market trends and potential impact on your business.
- Perform a SWOT analysis. What are your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- Target Customer:
Who are your customers and what is their persona (profile) in terms of:
- Demographic information
- Can you describe a day in their life?
- Where do they go for information?
- What are their pain points?
- How do they use the Internet?
- What do they do for a living?
- What are some of their habits?
- Describe their attitudes and values
- What are their goals?
- Value Proposition:
Your value proposition is what sets you apart from your competitors. As you develop it, ask:
- How will engaging with you improve your customer’s life?
- What is the unique value of your products and services?
- What unique benefits do you offer?
- Why should someone buy your product/service
More than ever, marketing is being held accountable for results that drive business success. You must track and measure your marketing efforts and tie them to business objectives. Ask yourself:
- How will marketing efforts help your company achieve its business objectives?
- Are your goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-delimited?
The example below illustrates how to tie your marketing plan to your company’s broader goals. If your company wants to grow revenue by 20%, and recognizes repeat business as a cost-effective way to accomplish this, your marketing goals should focus on growing repeat business, and your marketing tactics should target activities that drive repeat business.
Company goal Grow revenue by 20% Marketing goal Grow repeat business by 20% over next 12 months Marketing tactics
- Direct mail promotion to repeat customers
- Sales training program/cross-sell
- Client satisfaction research
- Marketing budget
What are your marketing tactics? Examples of tactics are public relations, a social media, direct mail, content sharing, video, blogging, etc. Select tactics that reach your customers. Limit your efforts to two or three.
Consider Google Analytics to measure website traffic, referral traffic and conversions. Manual methods can suffice: Ask customers how they found you.
- Execute (or Implement):
- A calendar can be really helpful for keeping you on track.
- Review measurements and refine, based on what worked and what did not.
Now that you have a better understanding of the key elements of your marketing plan, I strongly encourage you to carve out the time you need to develop one. To help you get started, download a free marketing plan template.
Your marketing plan is critical to the success of your business. It provides a roadmap that drives essential marketing activities and the metrics to determine their impact on your business. Without it, you’re very likely to waste your precious time and money chasing marketing tactics that simply won’t grow your business. Visit Walker-Stanley Communications for more information on creating a marketing plan for your business.
About Tricia Akins
Tricia Akins is founder and managing director of Walker-Stanley Communications. She has over 20 years of corporate marketing and communications experience and puts that to use by helping B2B companies sort through the online marketing maze to create roadmaps that focus marketing efforts on driving growth.
SEO and Online Marketing Training
Tricia will be joining us in our upcoming SEO training workshops in Boulder and Denver this April. The workshops include several group exercises, review of attendees’ websites and current strategies, case studies and more. Learn more and register at: http://www.boulderseomarketing.com/training.