With the New Year looming, it is a very good time to take stock and start planning your work and your budget for the coming 12 months. Having a written marketing plan, which is picked up and used, and updated regularly, is vital if your business is spending money on any marketing activities. Without knowing where you are trying to go you won't know if you've got there!
This blog post was originally published in December 2016 and updated in December 2017.
To help you get started, here's what absolutely has to go in to your next marketing plan:Objectives
What are you trying to achieve? Take some time to think about your objectives - whre do you want do be in a year's time? Be as specific as you can, with objectives like:
- Double turnover in the next 12 months
- Generate 100 leads per week
- Acquire 5 new clients per month
If you add numbers and timescales, it is much easier to figure out if you are achieving your objectives or how far away you are.Marketing Strategy
This is the explanation of how you are going to achieve your objectives. This is not the place for details, keep that for your action plan, just outline your main methods, such as:
- Introduce a new product or service to get more business from your existing customers
- Target a new market segment or geographical area with your current product range
- Improve your website to generate more leads
- Add specific content to your website to help attract more visitors
- Increase use of certain social media to reach a new audience
- Retain more existing customers with improved after-sales service and communication
Look carefully at your current customers and figure out which are the biggest groups and which are the most profitable. Then decide who you want to be your customers - any obvious segments which have potential? Remember, you CANNOT target “everybody”! Break the market down and decide who you are going to focus on. Create buyer personas for these ideal customers to make it easier to provide the right information to them in the right format.
What activities are you going to undertake and when? Put dates on this to make sure it actually happens. Add costs too if possible and make somebody responsible for each action.
If you have more than one buyer persona or target segment, make sure you are addressing each one at each stage of their journey towards becoming a customer. So you need information which will attract their attention on social media, search engines, advertising, PR etc. Then you need more detailed, educational content to engage them and help them solve the problem they are experiencing. Finally, don't forget to convert them into leads by giving them a good reason to connect with you. When they have decided to become customers you'll want a plan for keeping in touch with them too.
There are many other sections you can add into a marketing plan, but if you write down these basics you have made a good start and can kick off your new marketing year in a planned, focused, effective and measurable way.
Once you've written your marketing plan, use our free guide to help you plan your content.