There are many ways to craft a marketing plan to accomplish sales goals. There are even more ways to get distracted from your plan – that’s the scary part. Becoming derailed is quite easy, that’s why a simplified, overarching plan is critical. This is not in place of a detailed strategy, but it can provide quick clarity and focus when you’re scratching your head wondering if your team should move in another direction or not.
6-Point Marketing Plan
Ultimately, Attracting the right people and converting them to become a paid customer are the goals. But how do you know if your new idea should be implemented or not? These 6 key areas of your plan will help guide your decision-making.
- Marketing’s Job
- Brand Clarity and Strength
- Value Proposition
- Primary Customers
- Channels / Tools
- Analytics and Pivoting
Let’s jump right into this by defining marketing’s job. If this is not clearly defined, you very well could set course in the wrong direction with your first step. Not all companies understand what marketing’s job is, so let’s boil this down to something simple. Marketing activities should focus on playing a part in creating a quality lead, or playing a role in shaping the brand’s identity.
Marketing’s job is to also create an evolving, living ecosystem that attracts qualified prospects, provides sales with quality leads, and builds a brand people know and trust. In most cases, Marketing’s job is not to make the sale. That’s where the sales teams come in. However, marketing must be intimately connected to sales. This is critical.
Brand Clarity and Strength
Building your brand so it is clearly understood by your market, and has a perceived strength (also by your market) is very important. So how does one create this? Great question. A good place to start is to communicate a powerful and compelling story, and disseminate those stories broadly to your market.
Your company story and consistent message matters. Think about what this story should include and how it should be crafted and consistently brought to life. Remember, this story is important to your existing and prospective customers, and is also unique to the company, and very much part of your value proposition.
We just talked about your story. So how is this connected to your value proposition? First, a value proposition should answer the question; “What are the reasons customers purchase with us instead of the competition?” The reasons why are the fabric of your value proposition. The basis for telling your story now has a foundation in which you can start communicating. It’s important to note; Your story is not a selling message. It’s a message (or narrative) that educates, motivates, inspires, excites, entertains, and helps shape the perspective of the audience most important to the company.
The marketing messages and narratives are written to influence the customer in some way. But first, you must identify who that customer is, how you can spot them when you see them, why they are a customer, what attributes are common to your existing customers, and what about them makes them important enough for you to invest money and resources to attract them? We are just scratching the surface here, but you get the idea.
Take some time to document these traits. They are critical to the success of your big picture, and your tactical marketing initiatives. Your sales team will help you define these traits because they are talking to them daily. This also means you must clearly define who you are not targeting. In this case, documenting the “not” customers are just as important as the primary customers. You don’t want to waste your resources creating marketing initiatives that target the wrong people group for the wrong reasons. That’s a no-no.
Everything we talked about so far leads up to this section. Here you must clearly identify the marketing channels like social media, email, web, video, PPC, SEO, digital, geo-targeting, events… and the list goes on.
Within this list of channels where you will distribute your brand messages, you must know for sure that your target audience is also there. Make sure to fully understand the channel and its demographics before you plan to use it. Additionally, alongside these channels are tools that you will use. I am mostly thinking of sales enablement tools. These are not paid media tools. These are initiatives like digital sales presentations, virtual tours, videos and demonstrations at events, webinars, online sales tools, interactive infographics, and a host of other things the sales team uses to communicate to prospects.
This list is also miles long and can vary by business. So have some fun and use your creativity. Marketers are very good at discovering new tools. Think about ways you can help your sales team communicate their messages in a more impactful way. But, don’t forget to follow the marketing plan. If your new idea doesn’t fit nicely into the structure of the marketing plan, that’s when you remove it from your action steps moving forward.
Analytics and Pivoting
This has become one of my favorite areas in marketing because it gives me insight on what’s working, what needs work, how is the market being influenced by our marketing activities, how are they engaging with us and also, what’s not working.
I suggest you determine what metrics within your ecosystem are most important to review once a week. Look for trends, and try to anticipate what’s on the horizon. There are obvious bright-light trends, and also low-light trends, which give you a glimpse of what could be emerging (pay close attention to these as well).
You will want to pivot (change direction) when you see a trend. A good trend means an opportunity. A bad trend means you may want to consider shifting your plan away from your current tactical initiative.
This can be tricky because you might be able to keep the channel, but alter the message, imagery, touchpoints, or even the path to conversion and be just fine. Before you ditch something altogether, take a hard look assessment with metrics, and make sure what you are seeing is what you expect and still fits within your marketing plan.
Marketing is mostly about attracting and converting new customers. Hopefully, this simple 6-point marketing plan will help you stay on track and easily assess the brand as it evolves with activities over time. Making decisions is hard, and you will make mistakes. But understanding these 6 items will also help you hit the bullseye more frequently while helping your sales team by giving them tools to use so they can close more deals.
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