In the second of a series of articles on how to market your business Derek Owen, of Totem Marketing, looks at building a winning marketing plan.
How to build a successful marketing plan
So how do you create a successful marketing plan? It’s all gone quiet…
Well, there are many schools of thought on the subject – if you ‘Google’ it, you will see over 3000 results containing ‘how to’s’. So where do you start? Good question!
The first stop is understanding what a marketing plan is – correction, what a great marketing plan is.
Some marketing individuals can see it as a way to gain funds from budget controllers to help develop a set of campaigns to implement, whereas others see it as a way to truly test the different marketing tools on the market.
Now there are three ways to create a marketing plan. Most people either hire someone to produce a marketing plan, use their own expertise to create it, and then fail against the constraint of time, or they think about it but never quite get around to crossing it off their ‘To Do’ lists. I see that a sheepish grin is forming on your face…guilty of any of the above? Don’t worry, let’s see if this helps…
Creating the Marketing Plan Summary
Having worked with some leading brands such as, Sky, BT, B&Q, NEC, and The O2, there is one thing that we have always done – we all start with a vision.
At this stage think about what you want to achieve and why, not how you will achieve it – that will come later.
Write your vision, get others involved to flesh it out and question whether it is truly is a killer statement and goal. Detail the ideas, solutions and exactly what you want the vision to say. Ensure it’s jargon-free but demonstrates an understanding of the reality of your market space and where you want your business to be. Always ensure it’s accountable.
Beat Your Competition
Form a competitor landscape, and use a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) analysis to ascertain where you have advantages over the competition. Look for the low hanging fruit, the quick wins, or the areas where you have the greatest strength in your market and repeat this for the rest of your business.
Identify campaigns that can beat the competition by always thinking outside the box and don’t become a ‘me-too’ business – you’ll just end up wasting your marketing budget.
Traditional forms of marketing are often considered obsolete given that we live in a digital society, however pay close attention to trends. For example, see how many emails you get in one day. Count up all the ones you just delete… quite a few? Now think of the last time you received a really good Direct Mail piece and why. Direct Mail is back on the up – especially ‘lumpy mail’ – i.e.: a point of difference or it has something actually in the envelope. This could be a pen, or even a Kit Kat bar…
We’ve talked about the ‘what’ and ‘why’, now is the time for ‘how’
You’re half way to completing your marketing plan and are ready to sink your teeth into what you want to achieve.
The next stage is to really define how you implement the marketing plan. Start by breaking down the list of things you want to do. Create smaller chunks of deliverables. Be it short, medium or longer term programmes, or month 1, 2, 3 and so on. Always build in elements of testing at each stage. See what works and what doesn’t work. At this stage start working on your budget and how much you feel you should be spending on marketing.
The Action Plan
Now start to work through all the marketing mechanisms that are available and map these against the relevance to your business. For example don’t spend thousands of pounds on LinkedIn adverts if your target audience is a consumer. Alternatively don’t get sucked into the ‘I must have a company Facebook page’ if you really don’t need it, and more importantly if you don’t have the time to regularly update it.
Research what has worked in the past and what’s worked for the competition. Come up with your version of what the market needs next. Test it, tweak it, try it again. Find the marketing activities that work for your business and roll them out on a larger scale.
The Sales Team
Always engage the sales team. They are your eyes and ears in the market. Work with them, listen to what they are being told by their clients and prospects. See what’s missing from their ‘sales kit’ bag and try and fill the gap using marketing material from presentation template slides, standard contracts, or the best brochure on the market. Always find something innovative and different that makes it a little easier for the sales team to get through the door. Work closely with them to truly understand your customer’s needs.
Then go back again to the action plan and tweak it, test it, try it, try again. It’s about trial and error.
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