After you have defined your vision and identified your marketing goals, you need to put a marketing plan in place to achieve those goals. Your marketing plan defines your path to your goals and guides your decisions throughout the year.
A successful marketing plan should be:
- Simple – clearly identifies the activities needed to achieve your goals
- Achievable – uses only the resources you have to work with
- Relevant – stays focused on what is important to the success of your business
Marketing your small business is very much like playing golf. In golf, the goal is to get the ball from the tee into the cup on the green in the fewest number of strokes possible. To achieve that goal, you need a strategy for each hole such that you get to your destination successfully. Your strategy for each hole is different because you need to account for the length of the hole, the number of hazards you face, the weather and course conditions. Your action plan is to execute your strategy for each hole, resulting in the par score.
As we all know, just because we have the perfect strategy and plan for golf, we don’t necessarily par all the holes and in many cases, we veer off track and need to figure out how to get back on track so we reach our destination. Sometimes you have to adjust your activities to account for shots that aren’t quite perfect. By evaluating your situation and making adjustments, you can get to your destination – maybe not in par, but in the fewest number of strokes possible.
Likewise, when we market our businesses, for each goal, we define strategies and the associated activities needed to get to the desired result. And when we veer off course due to distractions or changes in the environment, we need to evaluate the situation and make adjustments to get back on track. By knowing what you are trying to accomplish and having a marketing plan to guide you, you can stay focused on your desired outcome.
How to create your winning marketing plan
The best way to approach this task is to take each goal and figure out what it will take to achieve this goal. For example, let’s take the following goal as an example:
To increase subscribers to our in-house email list by 50% in the first quarter, 30% in the second, 15% in the third quarter and 10% in the fourth
Your marketing activities could be the following:
- Create a free report or eBook to encourage visitors to sign up for mailing list
- Add the signup form to our Facebook Page and use Facebook promoted posts to market the eBook to our Facebook fans each quarter
- Simplify the signup form to encourage more signups and add a signup form link with the call to action to our email signatures
- Ensure our website and email marketing activities are mobile ready to capture those visiting our site via a mobile device
Now assess what you need to complete these activities.
- To create a new eBook each quarter you will need a content plan that sets out what you will write and when.
- To promote the eBook to your Facebook fans as a promoted post, you need to understand how to use promoted posts, create a timeline for the posts and set a budget for what you are willing to spend.
- Review our website for the effectiveness of the sign up form, adding a call-to-action to the end of each blog post to encourage signup.
- Update the website with a responsive theme to support any device including smart phones and tablets.
- Review our email marketing service provide to ensure they support mobile devices so our email is easily viewed on mobile devices in addition to web browsers.
As you can see, your marketing action plan can be created in a table or spreadsheet, identifying each goal, the marketing activity details and the associated information needed to complete each activity. The following is the format I use with my clients.
Streamline Your Marketing
A marketing plan helps the busy small business owner take control of their day to day marketing activities. Without a plan, marketing, especially online with its rapidly changing landscape, can be overwhelming and discouraging. Breaking up your marketing into manageable pieces can ensure you make progress towards achieving your goals.
How do you plan your marketing activities?