Marketing Plans for Sustained Growth & Clarity
When you are considering how to best market your business what comes to mind first?
Maybe it’s the logo, business cards or even just plain advertisement. Have you taken the time to truly understand how marketing can drive profitability and customer acquisition?
Do you feel like your team takes one step forward and two back when it comes to being on the same page as well, are you confident in that your marketing strategies are working?
On the other hand, maybe you are someone just starting out a new business and want to know more about marketing and how to best spend your time focusing on the important aspects.
If so, you are in the right place
Firstly the point and goal of marketing is best explained as follows:
“The organizations marketing task is to determine the needs, wants, and interest of target markets and to achieve the desired results more effectively and efficiently than competitors in a way that preserves or enhances the consumers or society’s well-being” – Philp Kotler
Ok Great! Now, where do you start?
Marketing as an industry is expansive. Technology creates new ways to connect people and because of that, marketing follows the communications waves. It’s near impossible to become an expert at these new technologies. Updates and the fast-paced tendency of boom and busts mean you will always be challenged to find ways to reach your customer base.
This is why you need to claim your own piece of the web. If you haven’t already, purchase your name.com and your businessname.com. Now no matter where you promote your business and yourself you can lead people back to a place you own and control.
Even established communities like Facebook and Twitter could change their guidelines & policies to make promoting your business impossible or too costly. If one of those communities create the bulk of your customers you may be in trouble overnight.
With that said it’s unlikely that Facebook would want to lose out on a major revenue stream. The point is, you need to take advantage of current opportunities while future-proofing your revenues with information you can always use to reach your customers.
Two strategies every company and person needs to be successful. Your very own website and contacts. If you don’t have a website and a minimal budget look into Squarespace, Wix, or Weebly. If you don’t have contacts with email addresses that is goal number two. Bonus points if you use your website to automate collecting emails.
Seriously, if you want to know where to start that’s it. Establish your web presence and make sure it’s mobile friendly and start collecting email addresses.
Your website will be used to help potential clients lean in, and say yes this is what I need or your website will repel them keeping you off the phone with someone that would never buy from you and waste your time.
E-mail allows you to communicate with your customers that are already interested in your products/services. They already bought into what you provide, that’s why they parted with their email address. So you can keep in touch and keep them in the loop.
Business Promotion Planning
You’re now ready to start promoting your business. The number of platforms where you are able to promote your business at is an ongoing list. As well as the number of opinions and advice on how you should go about spending your budget where to promote and even what kind of colors, font, images, etc. There is going to be someone that’s going to have an opinion on how to best do it. But none of that is going to matter if it isn’t working for your business.
A lot of what all this boils down to is your best guess then trial and error. Which brings us to your budget. A company with a large budget can take more risks and optimize successful strategies quicker. Even still, there are no shortcuts and nothing in marketing is a one-size fit’s all.
This is why every company must take time to map out a strategy that will give them the control and accountability to find their very own, wildly successful marketing campaign.
Value of a Marketing Plan
A marketing plan is a cohesive driven strategy that attracts your buyer. It organizes the entire marketing strategy keeping you or your team on track and focused. But the biggest benefit is your ability to track marketing goals and adjust your advertising for the biggest bang for your buck. Design your marketing strategy based on market research and a focus on providing the right product mix to achieve maximum profit.
Creating this document is time-consuming, it will stretch you, and it will make you make the tough decisions of what and how your business will show up in the world. It’s scary, what if you make the wrong decisions. What if you put yourself out there and fail? So, before you spiral out of control with self-doubt let’s create this amazing document.
To get you totally pumped to complete this, kind of, grueling living document here are all the reasons you want one of your very own!
As we stated before developing this document makes you make the tough decisions. Like getting clear on your vision, clear on how you attract your customer and clear on where you position yourself in your industry.
It’s important to note that this process will help you map out your execution as well. Which solves a major problem for most people as well. When you have your marketing mapped out every day you have built-in accountability.
So, by investing the time for a week or two, you will know exactly who to target, what offers will sell and have a play by play of how you’re going to execute it all.
Worth it, right?!?
So, what goes into creating this amazing document. First, the approach you take will depend on which growth stage of business you are in. We are focusing on businesses who have been in business a few years and either struggle with sales or find themselves stuck on the rollercoaster of months with plenty of income into months of low to no income.
That is not to say this document isn’t beneficial for start-ups. When it comes to early growth stages it is important to have a very clear vision for both your business and your customers.
First things First; Clarity: Leading “Your” Way
To Lead “Your” Way you need to understand two things. When you look around at others in your industry DO NOT copy what you see. Do be inspired by other success and be excited to see what’s possible. Don’t let self-doubt keep you from moving towards your goals.
Many businesses are started as a “Me Too” Brand. Meaning it’s a business mimicking a successful one copying services and pricing models and offerings.
Thing 1. “Me Too” Brands find it difficult to skyrocket to success and later struggle with their own identity and business owners become uninspired and frustrated with their business. The other problem is like online dating catfish, the same thing can happen when you look from the outside assuming the success of a business.
The truth is humans are great at looking successful and even better at covering up financial instability and problems within their business.
Thing 2. Is self-doubt. It creeps in every chance it gets. It’s our brain’s way to ensure survival. The problem is we no longer have to cross great distances with danger lurking around every corner. We all deal with self-doubt. Practicing affirmations and positive- talk will never rid you of self-doubt. The solution is to acknowledge when your mind says “You Can’t, or Don’t do that”. Then access if your mind is correct. If your mind becomes fearful at the thought of calling a prospect it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t call. Your goal is to work with your instincts and never let the mind, that is built for survival, steer you away from what’s scary if that action helps you achieve your goals.
Next time self-doubt creeps in think about your goals and know, You Are Capable if you just take that next step.
What’s in a Modern Marketing Plan?
Depending on your company and industry the components of your Marketing Strategy may vary. The following 5 sections should apply to most industries.
It’s important to know how your business will show up in the world. Crafting the perfect logo, selecting signature colors, fonts and textures all help you tell your story. Part of that story is your customer experience. Give your company a go-to voice, are you sassy, professional, or adventurous. Everything your consumer experiences from your company should all be a part of a cohesive strategic storyline that connects with your ideal customer. Brand Identity also provides you and your team a base to approach any marketing decision.
It’s important to have a very clear vision of who you will serve. There are many methods of identifying your customer, building an avatar is the most common. When building your customer profiles identify reasons for buying, their purchase behavior, where you can connect with them, and what will attract them to your brand. Most businesses have 3 or 4 consumer profiles. The differences in each archetype are usually found in their motivations to make the purchase.
There is more to goal setting than your sales goals. Although most of the goals we set are financially based there are other metrics we should be striving to improve. In our digital world, we can dig so much deeper into our marketing campaigns. Tracking web traffic, most visited pages, web traffic referrals, geographic information, and mobile vs desktops the list is almost endless.
Set your Marketing Strategy goals so that you gain insight where you need to improve for better targeting and customer experience.
Customer Acquisition Strategy
Deciding where and when you will promote your business is an important part of raising brand awareness and obtaining new customers. Note the use of promotion in this article isn’t to convey the idea of a promotional “sale” or discount offer. Rather, where and how you promote your message about your business services/products to your ideal customer.
There are various options to consider when promoting your business.
Traditional Advertising refers to mass media which relays your promotion to a mass audience. Although you can be strategic about ad placement it is impossible to manage your ad budget in a way that only targets your ideal customer.
Magazines, billboards, radio, newspaper and tv are all examples of Traditional advertising
Digital advertising is promotion that exists on the Internet, on a smart phone, and hand-held media devices. Digital advertising allows promotions to be targeted directly to ideal customers with very little to no budget being used on non-targeted audience. Giving you a great deal of control over messaging and timing of delivery.
Social Media, AdWords, Banners, and Retargeting strategies might be some of the strategies you will use to promote your business to ideal customers.
Online Marketing Strategy
Developing your online marketing strategy can be a complicated experience of trial and error. It’s still a fairly new technology and changes to the landscape happen every day. Google changes its algorithm, your social media organic reach changes, and learning a new social channel are just a few frustrations we all have to face. Nevertheless, Social Media and online advertising are vital to developing a successful marketing strategy. The following 4 elements are the foundation to every online strategy.
It’s almost shocking when you search for a company and find out they don’t have a website. It’s even more frustrating when the site isn’t mobile-friendly.
Your website is where you control the consumer’s experience. There are a number of options available in the market today for bringing your web presence to life. WordPress is a favorite, but companies like Wix and Squarespace may fit your needs.
When developing your marketing strategy for your website be mindful of content silos, navigation, purchase sequences, images, SEO, landing pages, and opt-ins.
If you are a potential customer does the website help you figure out if you are in the right place to solve your issue?
Email List Building
You’ve probably heard the phrase “the money is in the list”. List building is among the highest of priorities for most marketers. Successful strategies for building your list may include contests, sneak peeks for subscribers only, High-value content behind an opt-in, as well as special discounts and webinars.
Don’t focus on the number of sign-ups, focus on getting quality targeted sign-ups.
This is one of the most important pieces of your marketing.
It’s impossible to research marketing strategies and not find Content is “King”. Designing your content strategy can be challenging. Start by researching key topics in your industry and frequently asked questions from your customers. Once you have decided what content you need to produce find a content strategy tool or utilize Excel to build your Content Strategy Calendar.
Some industries will have a library of content to create and organize. If you’re working with a team it’s important to find the perfect tool to keep everything organized and prioritized.
If you’re just beginning your content strategy start SMALL. Put together an eBook or write a blog post once a month. It’s far more important to have a few valuable pieces of content than 25 poorly written blog posts with little thought of end-user strategy and content silos.
As business owners, it can seem impossible to cover all your bases and keep all the balls juggling in the air. Creating your marketing strategy allows you to keep yourself and your team on track to grow your company and create a cohesive understanding of how your company intends to show up and win over customers.
Having a marketing strategy allows you to easily outsource or transfer ownership to key employees. It allows you to truly understand how your marketing is affecting your bottom line as well as track consumer behavior and give you the advantage to change and adapt to your consumer.
With stats like that, it’s clear you need to incorporate video marketing into your strategy. You’ve already mastered the “selfie” it’s time to learn a new skill. Start simple your smartphone is perfect for the job.
Just start creating content and learn from the responses you receive. You really can’t wait till you feel confident, lose a few lbs. or find the perfect outfit. You need to create a video this week, in the next few days, or RIGHT NOW because companies which use videos in their marketing grow revenue 49% faster year-on-year than those which don’t (Aberdeen Group, 2015).
Now that you put everything into action you need to track what’s working and what’s wasting space, time and resources. Analytics can be tricky mind field to navigate. On one hand, you can track how a specific customer landed on your sales page, or follow how people use your site. And even creepier, you can follow someone that visited your website around the internet enticing them with discounts and reminders. You can also add retargeting to your shopping carts with email reminders about items waiting to be purchased.
Digital is an amazing world for us to learn about our customer’s behaviors and pain points. But there is a problem with data collecting. It isn’t perfect and it can’t always be trusted. Not to mention how many wrong conclusions you can draw.
I will leave you with this story.
A manufacturer I worked for made his product inventory decisions based on the revenue created by each product. When a few products didn’t make the cut, he stopped production. It makes sense that if a product doesn’t create profit it needs to go. But here is where having the data can be crucial. It turns out the products he canceled were actually the most visited product pages on the website. It turns out the product would have been profitable if his distribution channels were better. So, in reality, by only considering profit margins he missed out on profitable products. Use the data to help construct your customers perspective.
Not everything is black & white and only looking at the profit can be deceiving if you don’t know why your product or service isn’t creating revenue.
Bring the Plan Together
Creating a successful marketing plan will take time to develop and master. You will continue to learn new things about your customer’s needs. You will continue to find better ways to talk about your product and improve your conversions.
It is vital you put in the time to develop your marketing plan. Lead “Your” Way. Lead with your own vision and light your own path.
“It always seems impossible until it is done” – Nelson Mandela