A simple marketing plan is your road map for achieving your goals and guiding your decisions throughout the year. It consists of both a marketing strategy and an action plan.
The strategic part of the plan where you define your vision, goals and target audience for your business is covered extensively in this post: Crafting a Simple Marketing Plan for a Small Business. But once you have the strategy in place, you need your action plan that will guide your marketing execution and help you adjust when necessary.
What is a marketing action plan
A marketing action plan is a comprehensive document that outlines the specific steps and activities that you need to take to achieve your marketing goals and objectives. It is a roadmap that outlines the projects, tasks, resources and responsibilities required to implement a marketing activity successfully.
A successful marketing action plan should be:
- Simple – clearly identifies the activities needed to achieve your goals
- Actionable – prioritizes the projects and tasks to help you work on the right thing to move your business forward
- Achievable – uses only the resources you have to work with
- Relevant – stays focused on what is important to the success of your business
If you review your marketing plan once a year, let’s start over and create a plan that helps you consistently execute and move you closer to your ultimate outcome.
Like golf, marketing is about strategy and execution
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 so 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.
Just because we have the perfect strategy and plan for golf, we don’t necessarily par all the holes. Many times, we veer off track and need to figure out how to get back 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 in the fewest number of strokes possible.
Likewise, when we market our businesses, we create a marketing plan by selecting strategies that are aligned with our resources. We then define the associated projects and tasks needed to get to our desired outcome goal. When we veer off course due to distractions or changes in the environment, our plan helps us evaluate 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.
Create your winning marketing action plan
The best way to develop a marketing plan is to take each outcome goal for the business that requires marketing and determine what it will take to achieve this goal.
As an certified partner of the 90 Day Year® High Performance System, I have incorporated some of the system’s tools into my marketing action plan template, specifically the two week sprint.
Breaking your plan into two week segments allows you to focus on what needs to be done in a manageable time frame to achieve your goals. Getting feedback on how things are progressing every two weeks also ensures we pivot and move in another direction if things aren’t going as planned.
Marketing action plan structure
Using a hierarchy of outcome goal -> strategies -> projects -> tasks, we can break down what we need to do in a two week window to ensure we are working on the right things to move the business towards your goal.
The following marketing action plan worksheet helps you track your two week sprints.
Marketing action plan process
Start with your outcome goal. If that goal is to achieve $30K in revenue per quarter, that is your focus. So how do you do that?
- Pick a marketing strategy. There are several to choose from: organic search, content marketing, social media marketing, events, email marketing, PPC advertising. Be realistic about what you can do given your resources (people and money).
Using Inbound Marketing, increase the number of qualified inbound opportunities (phone, email, web site registrations and referrals) to 50 per quarter.
- Determine your performance based projects. What do you commit to work on for the next two weeks? Select those that drive you towards your outcome goal. Do you need to enhance your website with better messages and SEO? Create a lead generation campaign that drives inbound leads? Use content marketing to increase visibility for your brand? Pick no more than three projects that you want to work on throughout the two week sprint.
- Break the projects into the tasks. What needs to get done and in what order to move your project forward? These tasks will guide you on what you should be working on. They will also help you evaluate those many opportunities that can distract you from achieving your goal.
Remember that you are planning for only two weeks. You may have many projects and tasks you want to do. Prioritize the work you can do within the two week sprint so you can see the progress you are making.
Measuring for success
Turning your outcome goal into bi-weekly measurable projects and tasks can make success more achievable. When you get constant feedback by working in two week sprints, you can quickly identify when things aren’t going in the right direction.
If you are not achieving your outcome goal, what is the problem?
- Are you not specific about your ideal target client? Lack of focus can drive a lot of traffic, but few will convert.
- Do you understand the challenges facing your target market? View your business from the perspective of your ideal client. See if you truly understand what they need and how you can help them.
- Are your marketing messages not clearly communicating your value? Too many messages or lack of clarity can confuse your audience and cause them to go elsewhere.
- Are you simply not working on the right projects to help you achieve your outcome goal?
Reviewing your progress every two weeks allows you to adjust what you are doing before it is too late. Doing the same activities for 3, 6 or unfortunately, 1 year without reviewing your results is huge mistake.
If you are looking at your progress every two weeks, you can adjust in plenty of time.
Streamline your marketing
A marketing plan with actionable details 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 and reviewing the results quarterly can ensure you stay on track to achieve your goals.
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