How to Create a Marketing Plan

Do you know the most famous quote in marketing history? Of course, it’s gotta be “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” This quote is attributed to John Wanamaker, who owned retail businesses in the 19th century. It’s a problem that’s plagued businesses for centuries and hasn’t gone away.

Every company know they needs marketing to get their message and brand in front of more customers and keep them coming back. But knowing where your marketing spend and effort is going and effectively managing it can literally make or break a business.

So what’s a key step in solving the conundrum? It all starts with a documented plan and processes in place to stop waste and put your money where your customers come from. Consider it the blueprint, the path forward that the company sticks to focuses on to increase their customer base.

marketing plan

Create Specific Goals

Businesses are in different stages. Some are start-ups, others are in their infancy, others are mature. Some are growing, some are expanding their offerings, while others are more in the middle or on the other end of the spectrum others. It’s important when developing a marketing plan that aligns with where the brand stands.

For example, a new business, or a tarnished brand, is going to need to allocate a larger percentage of it’s resources to marketing than a well-established brand. While a marketing plan is ultimately about the path to making the most money, there are other important factors to consider as the path to success isn’t a straight line.

Important Factors and Goals to Consider Beyond Dollars

1. Identifying Your Customer

The first step is to know who your ideal customer is. If your target audience is females age 26-44, your marketing and branding would be different than a company that targets seniors or a younger audience. If you don’t have all the data in place, research what your competitors are doing, or study other industry data to make your advertising and marketing plan as targeted as possible.

2. Brand Awareness

With any business, brand awareness and perception is important. Most people don’t buy on first contact with a company. It’s awareness, exposure, reputation and trust that separates companies.

3. Increase Traffic

A big part of marketing is building a stronger foundation so you can more easily achieve goals over time. That is not always about a short-term infusion of dollars. Short-term planning can be harmful to a business in the long run.

There are many other signs that show the development of a brand. This can be factors like an increase in website traffic, Facebook likes, video views, or email sign ups. These are all powerful indications and tools you can use to help your business grow.

mountain climbing

Stay Consistent

In marketing, there are a lot of shiny objects that can be chased, and a lot of different opportunities to connect with customers, or miss the mark. Stay focused on the customer and keep your marketing message and customer experience consistent and cohesive. Nothing is worse than having a great ad campaign that brings in new prospective customers only to lose them forever because one of your touch points is faulty, such as your website.

There’s no room for gaps, sloppiness, or missed opportunities. Every customer touch point should encourage them and make them want to continue on the buying process. This leads to higher conversion rates and better customer retention.

Minimize the Noise and Confusion

Sometimes there is so much focus on attribution that things get too granular. Or efforts that don’t gain immediate traction. It’s going to happen – not every marketing dollar you spend is going to make you money. Some efforts are going to take more time and that’s alright.

So where’ a good place to start? In today’s increasingly online economy, fixing your website should be a top priority. It’s your faithful marketing hub always available for your customers. In addition to it’s content and messaging, the website can also aids and supports email marketing, call tracking, social media marketing, and print advertising, which are all important tools in your advertising arsenal.

It’s OK to test and try new avenues, but don’t make large commitments or bets that don’t align as closely as possible to your ideal customer and end goal. Over time, you can allocate more resources to the most successful marketing strategies. Just make sure you have a robust tracking process in place.

digital marketing

The End Goal

While revenue, EBIDTA, and profit are critical metrics for businesses, other factors that tie into revenue are also critical. They could be achieving a certain percentage of market share within a fixed period, or a certain number of higher-tier accounts that propel business growth.

Marketing plans can still be agile and should be reviewed and adjusted. As you have more data to make better decisions or trends change, businesses should adapt and be ready to take on the next phase.

Whichever stage your business in, having a marketing plan in place is vital. While each business and situation is unique, having a defined path forward provides clarity, vision, and cohesion. It limits getting side-tracked, distracted, or following too much noise or clutter that can destructive.

Need help with your marketing strategy? Be sure to also check out our post on three key business marketing strategies.

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