1. Assess the Situation
Before you can get started with your marketing plan, you should know your current situation. What are your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats? By starting with a basic SWOT analysis, you’ll have a good basis for creating your marketing plan.
In addition to analyzing your own business, you should also evaluate the current market. How do you compare to your competitors? Think about how their products may be better than yours. What are they missing? What can you offer that'll give you a competitive advantage? Think about what sets you apart.
2. Define your Target customer
Ensure that your marketing efforts are focused by defining your ideal customer and what drives their decision-making. You may be tempted to skip this step but by creating effective buyer personas, you can be sure that you’re marketing to people who are actually interested in what you have to offer. Otherwise, your marketing strategy is pretty much the equivalent of a man on a box yelling through a megaphone at random people on the street.
Think about what you’d like your ideal customer to look like. You can start by creating a list of demographics which your customer falls into, including location, age, gender, and so forth. But don’t stop there. Why are they buying your product? What type of experience do they expect? What concerns might they have when buying your product?
3. Create smart Marketing Goals
It’s all well and good to say that you want more exposure, or that you want more customers… but you’ll need to define your goals a little more narrowly than that. How can you tell that your marketing strategy is working if you don’t know, exactly, what success is in the first place?
Goals like “I want to rank number one in Google” and “I want more awareness of my product launch” aren’t ideal. Where is the timeframe, the specificity, the actionable steps? Worst of all, there’s no way to track or measure these goals.
SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. This means that all your goals should be specific and include a time frame for which you want to complete them. This means creating marketing goals that look more like this:
- I want to grow my mailing list to 5,000 subscribers by the end of Q1.
- I want to rank number one for the search term “tree service” this year.
- I want 10% of our landing page visitors to download this eBook.
By creating goals like these, your marketing strategy will have a tighter focus. It’ll also clarify whether or not your tactics are working or if you possibly need to change and adjust your strategy.
4. Analyze your marketing tactics
At this point, you've written down your goals based on your target audience and current situation. Now, you have to figure out what tactics will help you achieve your goals by determining the right channels and action items to focus on. For example, if your goal is to increase your Instagram followers by 15% in three months, your tactics might include hosting a giveaway, responding to every comment, and posting three times on Instagram per week. If your goal is to rank higher for search keywords, your tactics may involve completing a website audit, editing your site’s metadata, posting a keyword targeted blog every month, or creating a targeted paid search campaign.
Once you know your goals, brainstorming several tactics to achieve those goals should be easy. However, while you're writing your tactics, you have to keep your budget in mind, which brings us to the last step in developing your marketing plan.
5. Set your budget
Before you can begin implementing any of your ideas that you've come up with in the steps above, you have to know your budget. For example, your tactics might include social media advertising. However, if you don't have the budget for that, then you might not be able to achieve your goals. While you're writing out your tactics, be sure to note an estimated budget. You can include the time it'll take to complete each tactic in addition to the assets you might need to purchase, such as ad space. Unsure of how much to budget? Create a plan that is flexible and can scale to help you meet your goals.
As your customers, market, and competitors change over time, your marketing plans evolve as well. When you regularly examine and update your marketing strategy to meet both the needs of your company and your customers, your business can continue to grow.