Marketing Plan Template: A Complete Guide to Create ROI
A comprehensive marketing plan can help keep your business focused on key goals. Learn more about how to drive success with one here. You’ve done the legwork. You’ve proven to the powers that be how invaluable content marketing is to the organization’s survival in today’s world.
There’s just one problem: now you have to write a marketing plan and you have no idea what you’re doing. Even if you’re a CMO, the task can be daunting.
There’s good news. Creating a marketing plan isn’t rocket science, and we’ve got all the information you need to put together a plan that’s actionable, based on accurate data, and moves your organization forward toward key goals. If you need to short cut your 90 day marketing plan template, consider the Data Matrix which also can acts as a marketing tactical plan template to execute from. This guide will also work as a business to business marketing plan template, as well as a pr marketing plan template.
Marketing Strategy vs. Marketing Plan: Understanding the Difference
For this strategic guide to be helpful towards your efforts, One thing that trips many people up is confusion surrounding two similar-sounding terms: marketing plan and marketing strategy.
To understand the difference, note that a marketing plan usually takes the form of a roadmap (or even a product roadmap) that takes the company from point A to point Z in whatever it is they’re attempting to accomplish. Even if it’s just to inform your advertising.
Getting from point to point requires the use of marketing strategies. So, in essence, your marketing plan will contain all the marketing strategies that you’ll use, such as organic social media, paid ads on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, email marketing, SEO, and all the rest. In today’s digital landscape, planning is more important than ever.
Put another way, you can think of marketing strategies as how you will accomplish a particular goal or mission, broken down into actionable steps. Those steps are contained within the overall marketing plan.
Of course, making your marketing plan work will require the right people in the right positions. Ideally, your team should be structured to fit the company’s size, and each member should be responsible for a certain type of content. It’s also important that your efforts are branded appropriately. Content marketing strategy without at least some element of branding will dilute your efforts.
Obviously, you need to tailor your branding efforts to the medium and channel – a guest blog with a brief author bio can’t have the same level of branding as a downloadable eBook, for instance. Branding also goes deeper than slapping the company’s name and logo onto a piece of digital content. Brand language includes everything from logo placement to font choices, color options, and even the very phrasing in your content marketing, including inbound marketing which is more education-based content.
What is a marketing plan?
A marketing plan is a document that outlines your marketing strategy. It serves as a roadmap for how your organization aims to raise awareness about a product or service and how it plans to deliver that product or service to target customers. It details how you’re going to include ROI in your marketing plan then make sure you blend your current analytics with your future plans. It should include elements such as an executive summary, mission statement, situation analysis, target market, buyer personas, marketing objectives and performance, pricing strategy, marketing mix, distribution strategy, promotion strategy, budgeting, and more. A good marketing plan helps you set goals, understand your target audience, and optimize the impact of your marketing campaigns. It also helps you communicate the goals and tactics to your marketing team, and lets you track the success of your campaigns.
What are the 7 C’s of marketing?
The 7 C’s of marketing are a popular framework used to effectively analyze and optimize a business’s marketing strategy. These include: customer needs and wants, cost, convenience, communication, channels, customer experience, and content. Customer needs and wants are at the heart of the 7 C’s and should be the primary focus when creating a marketing plan. Cost is also a key factor; businesses should use their resources efficiently and effectively to reach their target audience without overspending. Convenience and communication also play a role in the success of a marketing plan; businesses should strive to make it as easy as possible for their target audience to access their product or service. The channels used to reach customers should also be taken into consideration; businesses should look into using our marketing channel plan template to determine which ones are most effective for their particular niche. Finally, customer experience and content are important; businesses should strive to create a pleasant and engaging experience for their customers, and create content that resonates with their target audience.
Why do you need a marketing plan?
Why do you need a marketing plan can be answered easily. The purpose of a marketing plan is to provide a roadmap for an organization to reach their marketing goals. It helps to align marketing objectives and activities that will help an organization achieve a goal the overall business goals, and brings the entire team together on the same page. A marketing plan also helps to identify high priority initiatives, eliminate projects that don’t move towards the goals, identify the metrics to track, give the team direction and alignment, set realistic and measurable objectives, answer key questions about the business, identify the target audience, develop a structured approach to building products and services that satisfy customers’ needs, retain customers, save time and money, and act as a reference document to hold the team accountable and help execute the marketing strategy across your entire customer journey. In short, a good marketing plan is essential for any business to ensure effective campaigns and maximum ROI -assuming you’ve done some serious brand work on your organization. (Branding is everything) Rebranding might be appropriate for established brands that are looking for a transformational change.
Note, if you are a startup without a sales cycle, or not yet monetized, you may want to start HERE.
1. To establish a clear direction and goal for your marketing efforts
A marketing plan can help establish a clear direction and goal for marketing efforts by outlining the company’s business objectives, formulating a marketing strategy, identifying goals, understanding the unique selling proposition (USP), creating a strong brand, and optimizing the website. Having all of these aspects in place helps to ensure that the company’s marketing efforts are in line with the overall business objectives and strategy of the company. Goals that are set should be both quantitative and qualitative, and should be tied to the company’s mission and vision. Additionally, it is important to make sure that the brand is consistently represented across all channels, and the website is clear, functional, and easy to navigate. With these elements in place, the marketing plan can help provide a clear direction for marketing efforts, as well as a goal that is attainable but challenging.
2. To increase the chances of success by creating a strategy that is targeted to the right audience
Creating a targeted marketing strategy can help increase the chances of success by providing a clear, structured plan that focuses on the goals, tactics, channels and action items needed to reach a specific target market. By understanding the customer’s buying cycle and focusing on the stages of awareness, consideration, intent, purchase and repurchase, a business can ensure its content strategy is tailored to effectively meet the needs of the customer and encourage them to make a purchase. Additionally, by developing a relationship with customers, businesses can increase customer loyalty and generate upsell opportunities.
3. To measure the success of your marketing campaigns so you can make adjustments if needed
A marketing plan can help you measure the success of your campaigns by giving you a better understanding of your current marketing efforts and how they align with your business goals. It also allows you to compare your performance to that of your competitors and identify areas for improvement. Through an audit of your primary channels, you can use quantitative information such as site traffic, average number of posts, and click through rate to gain insight into how your marketing is currently performing. This data can then be used to set SMART goals, which should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound, to help you track progress and measure success. Furthermore, data can actually tell you what kind of content to make, if you know how to read your data.
4. To ensure that all of your marketing efforts are working together towards the same goal
A well-developed marketing plan helps ensure that all of your marketing efforts are working towards the same goal. It serves as a roadmap to guide your team and stakeholders in understanding how the marketing strategies outlined align with your company’s overall business objectives. The four P’s of marketing (product, place, price, and promotion) should be taken into consideration when developing a marketing plan. Additionally, setting attainable goals with milestones, understanding your unique selling proposition (USP), and ensuring your brand is consistently represented across all channels are all key components of a successful marketing plan. Having a strong marketing plan can help organize, streamline, and maximize the impact of your marketing activities.
5. To create a budget for your marketing efforts
Creating a budget for your marketing plan can help maximize ROI and identify wasted spend, allowing you to make better use of your marketing dollars. This means a distribution plan for media campaigns as well. By itemizing the budget and accounting for any new hires or third-party providers, you can better manage your resources and ensure that you don’t exceed a certain amount. Furthermore, having a detailed budget in your plan keeps you on track and allows you to calculate a potential ROI from your initiatives. Without a budget, it would be difficult to execute your marketing strategy and make things happen, making it crucial to establish a budget for your plan.
6. To ensure that everyone on the team is on the same page
Having a marketing plan for your team is essential for any marketing team to be successful. A marketing plan helps to keep everyone on the same page, outline goals, and make sure that your strategies are in line with the company’s overall objectives. By clearly outlining the DACI framework—driver, approver, contributor, and informed—for each project, your team will know who is responsible for what and remain accountable for their individual goals. Additionally, having a timeline and goals in place helps to ensure that your team is utilizing their resources in the most efficient manner and making the most out of their budget. Having a document that outlines all of the strategies, goals, and key players also helps to ensure that your team stays consistent throughout all of your marketing channels. With TeamGantt’s discussion feature, you can easily collaborate with your team and have access to important documents and information. Having a marketing plan for your team is essential for any marketing team to be successful and reach their goals, week by week, month by month and quarter by quarter.
7. To gain a better understanding of your target audience
A marketing plan can help you gain a better understanding of your target audience by allowing you to identify and refine buyer personas, as well as conducting market research and understanding demographic information such as age, gender and income. Additionally, you can incorporate imagery, icons and visuals of your target audience in your marketing plan to help keep them top-of-mind when planning and executing your strategies. Additionally, conducting research and building buyer personas can help you figure out the needs of your customers, understand their pain points, and position your product or service as the best solution for them. By understanding your target audience in such detail, it will help ensure that your marketing strategies are successful.
8. To identify your competitors and stay ahead of the curve
A well-crafted marketing plan can help you identify your competitors and stay ahead of the curve by providing you with the necessary information to assess the competitive landscape. Through competitor research, you can gain insights into who your competitors are, what marketing strategies they are employing, and how they are going about achieving their goals. Additionally, a SWOT analysis can be used to identify your own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in order to better understand yourself and how you can differentiate from your competitors. By understanding the competition, you can make informed decisions on the best strategies to successfully market your product or company. Ultimately, a marketing plan can help you take advantage of opportunities and stay ahead of your competition.
9. To create a plan for each of your marketing channels
Step 1: Define Your Message: Before you start creating a plan for each of your marketing channels, make sure to define the message that should be conveyed to your target audience.
Step 2: Choose the Right Channels: Once you know what you want to say, look at the most suitable promotion channels to acquire new customers. Consider using channels like targeting blogs, publicity, search engine marketing, social and display ads, or offline ads.
Step 3: Utilize The Bullseye Framework: To identify and choose the right channels for your business, use the Bullseye Framework. This will help you to focus on channels such as paid media, SEO, or content marketing.
Step 4: Answer Relevant Questions: When creating a plan for each of your marketing channels, answer relevant questions such as “What will you do in detail?”, “What results do you expect?”, or “Why will you pursue this platform?”.
Step 5: Measure Your Success: Make sure to measure your success on each channel to track progress and identify areas of improvement. This will help you to make sure that you’re choosing the right tactics and making the most of your time and resources.
10. To be able to allocate budget efficiently
A marketing plan can help you allocate budget efficiently by providing a clear understanding of the budget available to be spent, the expected ROI of each channel, and the potential risks associated with the marketing plan. Knowing the budget and analyzing the channels you want to invest in, you can come up with a plan to invest the budget in a way that will ensure the highest ROI. Additionally, you can anticipate potential risks and create plans to navigate around them in order to maximize the success of the budget allocation. Finally, detail the budget considerations in the marketing plan itself, so that you don’t lose sight of the financial aspect of the plan during implementation.
Marketing Plan Types: Many Different Solutions to Fit Your Needs
There’s no single type, size, or scope of marketing plan that will fit every need within your business. Thankfully, there are multiple types of marketing plans that can be used to achieve strategic goals. Some of the most commonly used types include the following:
Paid Marketing Plan: Paid marketing is generally separated from organic marketing (blogs from PPC, organic social from paid social, etc.) because they operate very differently and often have different budgets. A pain marketing plan should highlight the strategies that you’ll use to ensure you’re reaching the right audience segments, the platforms and channels you’ll use to achieve this, and of course, clicks.
Content Marketing Plan: Content strategy plays a role in all marketing, but content marketing as an initiative in its own right requires its own plan. What types of content will you use? Who will create it? Where will it be used or shared?
Social Media Marketing: Social media is a world unto its own and requires a dedicated team to handle it accurately. Your social media marketing plan should highlight the channels you’ll use, the marketing campaigns you anticipate using, and what strategies you’ll use to engage your audience.
Product Launch Marketing Plan: Launching a new product? You’ll need a plan to support the launch, define marketing tactics and methods, and track results. Your product manager will love you for it.
How Do You Create a Marketing Plan?
If you’re short on time and need this step done for your quickly, consider purchasing our Data Matrix to build your marketing plan which will give you a data-informed plan with tactics across paid, owned and earned channels. If you have all the time in the world, the here’s what to do:
Step 1: Conduct a SWOT Analysis
The first step in conducting a situation analysis for a marketing plan is to perform a SWOT analysis. A SWOT analysis is a tool used to identify a company’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors, while opportunities and threats are external factors. A SWOT analysis helps companies identify the areas in which they are weak and those in which they have the best chance to succeed.
Step 2: Analyze Your Competitors
The next step in conducting a situation analysis for a marketing plan is to analyze your competitors. This means looking at their products, pricing, promotional strategies, distribution methods, target markets, and overall presence in the market. Doing a competitor analysis should help you get a better understanding of your own company and how it compares to your competitors.
Step 3: Consider Environmental Factors
The third step in conducting a situation analysis for a marketing plan is to consider environmental factors. This can include economic or sociological factors that can impact a business’s performance. Examples of environmental factors include changes in technology, changes in laws or regulations, and changes in customer preferences or needs.
Step 4: Define Your Target Audience
The fourth step in conducting a situation analysis for a marketing plan is to define your target audience. Understanding who you are targeting is essential in order to create an effective marketing plan. Consider factors such as age, income level, geographic location, education level, and purchase tendencies. Understanding your customer’s needs and wants will help you better tailor your marketing plan.
Step 5: Set Your Budget
The final step in conducting a situation analysis for a marketing plan is to set your budget. You need to determine how much money you are willing to spend on your marketing efforts. Your budget will dictate the type of tactics you can use and the level of reach you can achieve. Having a budget in place will also help you measure the success of your marketing plan.
Step 2: Define your company’s mission, vision and values
Creating a successful marketing plan starts with defining your company’s mission, vision, and values. In order to do this, you need to answer a few key questions: what do you want to do, why do you want to do it, and who do you do it for? These answers will help you create a mission statement that will serve as a point of reference for all of your future planning initiatives.
You should also create a vision statement that will serve as a guide for your short and long-term goals. This statement should be concise and powerful, and should provide insight into your company’s overall goal and foundation.
Finally, you should develop a set of core values that will shape your company’s culture and guide your decision-making process. Get employee input on this step, as it’s important to make sure that all teams in the business are in agreement with the mission.
To help in the development of these statements, use a Mission, Vision and Values template, as well as a Positioning Template. These documents will help you keep your messaging consistent and articulate the unique value your product provides and the challenges it solves.
Step 3: Identify the market and competition
Identifying the market and competition for a marketing plan is an essential step in ensuring its success. To do so, the first step is to conduct a SWOT analysis. This will help to determine your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
The next step is to do a competitive analysis. This involves researching who the competitors are, what marketing strategies they are using, and how they are achieving their goals. There are various frameworks to help with this task, such as Myk Pono’s competitive analysis framework.
The third step is to identify the target customer. This should be done by creating or refining buyer personas, which involve gathering demographic and psychographic information about potential customers. This may also involve market research to get a better understanding of the target audience.
The last step is to identify the goals of the marketing plan and the target customers. This should involve looking at customers who already buy the product, as well as potential customers with whom the product shares mutual interests, preferences, and pain points. Surveys, focus groups, research, and feedback can all be used to gain insight into the customer base.
By following these steps, a company can effectively identify the target market and competition for their marketing plan.
Step 4: Define your target customer
Step 1: Understand your current customer base. Gather information from your existing customers by using focus groups, surveys, research, or simply asking for feedback. Use this information to create customer profiles and identify mutual interests, preferences, and pain points among those buyers.
Step 2: Analyze your competitors’ customer base. Learn about the customers your competitors are targeting, and figure out what motivates them to choose their products over yours.
Step 3: Define your target persona. Once you’ve identified the types of people who will most likely benefit from your product, hone in on those that are more likely to purchase it and choose your brand over the competition. Create a target persona that includes the demographics (e.g. age, gender, occupation) and the psychographic information (e.g. personality, preferences, lifestyle) of your ideal buyer.
Step 4: Identify the buying cycle of your target customer. Ask yourself how you will get in front of your target audience to bring awareness to your product, and how you will convince them to purchase from you. This will help you create an effective strategy to reach your target customer.
Step 5: Outline your marketing goals
Outlining your marketing goals for a successful plan is an essential part of any marketing plan. To ensure that your plan is successful, it is important to identify SMART goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
Start by evaluating your current position in the market and setting realistic goals. Take into account the growth your business has made year-to-date and create goals accordingly. These goals should be tied to your business’s overall mission and vision and should not overwhelm you. Pick no more than two main goals and three to five supporting goals.
Once you have your goals in place, it is important to identify key performance metrics that you want to impact. Be as specific as possible when outlining these goals and set goals with real numbers. Avoid vague goals like “get more Twitter followers” and instead focus on metrics like “get 100 new Twitter followers per month.”
Creating goal milestones is also recommended as it will help you measure your progress. This will also make reaching the goal more digestible and help you track to see if you are on track or not.
Following these steps will help you set up a successful marketing plan. Utilize templates, such as the ones listed in this guide, to help you properly outline your goals and objectives.
Step 6: Create a marketing strategy presentation template
Creating a marketing strategy presentation template can be a great way to share your marketing goals, SWOT, strategy, timeline, deliverables and more with your team and the management. To start, you can edit a marketing plan presentation template online in Visme and create a powerful and effective slideshow.
Next, you can write down one or more marketing strategies and the tactics to execute for each one. Make sure to include what to do, how to do it and the channels to use. To present the data in a visually organized way, you can divide your activities into stages and present them using a marketing strategy template.
You can also attach deadlines to your marketing strategy by using a timeline or Gantt chart template. If you want to do things differently, an infographic can be used to visualize your marketing strategy. You can also use a roadmap to outline the tactics involved in your overall marketing strategy. Additionally, a mind map can be great for providing your team with an overview of the different elements that are involved in the marketing strategy.
When presenting your marketing plan to potential investors and stakeholders, there are some basic best practices to keep in mind. Keep design elements and formatting consistent throughout the plan, incorporate icons, charts, and infographics to make the plan more visually compelling, use borders and colors that are consistent with your branding style guidelines, emphasize key stats and metrics to make it scannable, create a visual of your target audience persona, use design elements that reflect your high-level marketing goals, and use a template to incorporate your unique touch and branding.
Step 7: Set your budget
Creating a budget for your marketing plan is one of the most important steps in achieving success in your marketing activities. A well-planned budget helps you manage your resources and maximize ROI. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you set your budget for your marketing plan.
- List all of your ongoing expenses. This will give you an idea of what you can afford to spend on new marketing initiatives.
- Estimate all of the new costs you expect to incur in the next year. Make sure to include any new hires, freelancers, or agencies you need for the job.
- Detail how you’ll pay for your marketing. Set up a reasonable budget that will cover all of your marketing goals and objectives.
- Include your budget considerations in your marketing plan. This will ensure that you are tracking your spending and that you don’t exceed your budget.
- Research the different marketing tactics and channels that you want to invest in. Consider the ROI of each option and create a plan on how much budget you will invest in each.
- Come up with financial projections for the year. This will help with executive planning and will give you an idea of what your budget should be for the year.
- Anticipate any potential risks associated with carrying out your marketing plan and plan how you’ll navigate around them.
Following these steps to create a budget for your marketing plan will ensure that you are managing your resources wisely and maximizing your ROI.
Creating a marketing plan can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to make you lose sleep. Before you write an executive summary, we’ll walk you through what you need to know. First, we’ll provide a basic outline, and then we’ll break each outline point down into actionable information to help you get started.
Explain and Embody Your Business’s Mission
What’s your mission? This is the driving force behind not just your marketing department, but the entire organization. It should provide the overarching vision for all of your efforts.
For instance, Apple’s mission is “to bring the best personal computing products and support to students, educators, designers, scientists, engineers, businesspersons, and consumers in over 140 countries around the world.”
Brooks Running’s mission is “to inspire everyone to run and be active. We do this by creating innovative gear that keeps them running longer, farther, and faster.”
What’s your mission? How does it drive you? That should affect your marketing by informing your marketing messages, your audience, how you position yourself in comparison to competitors, and so much more.
When formulating your mission statement, be specific, but try not to be ultra-specific. Both Apple and Brooks have good examples of hitting that middle ground. What should you avoid? The nuts and bolts of how you’ll accomplish the goals.
Don’t be afraid to go with something high-level, like Brooks, but don’t go too far down that particular rabbit hole. There’s plenty of space left in your marketing plan to start elaborating on the specifics of how you’ll do that.
Outline Your Plan’s Contributors, Stakeholders, and Their Responsibilities
This step should be pretty simple – who’s contributing to the plan? This should include all the members of your marketing team, but it goes further than this. Make sure to include any C-suite champions, as well as anyone who might offer cross-department contributions (think about the folks in the design department, as an example). Any other stakeholders should also be noted.
Once you’ve got a list of all those who will be contributing in some way, it’s time to start getting more specific. What does each person bring to the table? What are their responsibilities? Who is in charge of what and who answers to whom? What sort of workflow will be followed?
Hammer this out now. Without a clear understanding of workflow, control, and responsibilities, accountability within your marketing efforts will be nil. You can’t afford that.
Determine Your KPIs
One of the most critical elements of your marketing plan is to define the key performance indicators (KPIs) you’ll be tracking. These are metrics that allow you to measure how your strategies (and the overall marketing plan) are performing. Some of the most commonly measured KPIs for marketing include the following:
Marketing revenue attribution
Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
Mobile traffic, leads, and conversions
Customer lifetime value (CLV)
Digital marketing return on investment ROI calculations
Landing page conversion rate
Social media traffic and conversion rate
Top 5 entry pages
Page engagement time
Organic traffic flow to the website
Social media follower engagement level
Website bounce rate (by page)
Cost of Goods Sold – to factor into the true ROI
KPIs should be used in two ways. First, they allow you to set short-term goals. For instance, you could set a goal of improving your landing page conversion rate by 20% within 30 days. This gives you something concrete to work toward and against which you can benchmark progress.
Second, they provide you with a way to communicate progress to business leaders. With firm numbers in hand, you can send a clear message that what you’re doing is working, and this is how.
Identify Your Buyer Personas
You need to know your audience before you can market to them. It’s amazing how many businesses attempt to reach a target market they know very little about. Of course, it’s impossible to get to know many of your customers on a personal basis, so how do you hone your marketing message so that it resonates with your target audience?
You do it with buyer personas.
What’s a persona? You can think of these as cardboard cutouts that represent your target audience, as well as smaller subsets of your audience. For instance, if you’re marketing a new pair of running shoes for women, then you already have your primary persona – women interested in health and fitness and who might find running shoes valuable in their quest for self-improvement. You can take things further, though. For instance, identify key elements of your shoes that make them a good fit for different parts of your audience.
Is it comfortable but supportive? That might make it a logical choice for older women.
Is it colorful and stylish? A younger audience would appreciate those qualities.
Does it deliver best-in-class performance? Experienced runners might find this valuable.
You get the idea. Buyer personas represent your audience or a segment of your audience. You use them to create customized marketing messages. However, you need to take care when you create those personas. There are a few rules you’ll need to know.
- Accuracy: Your personas should be direct reflections of your existing customers or new customers. To use the women’s running shoe example again, children would not be part of your audience, so you should not use child personas.
- Agreement: Business leaders must agree on buyer personas. You should have buy-in from the C-suite here. It’s important to help ensure that you are accurately targeting the right customers or potential customers. Getting agreement between everyone can involve some back and forth and a good deal of discussion. Don’t shy away from that, as it will help ensure better reach and resonance.
- Visualize: Finally, visualize important process flows and strategy roadmaps. How will you speak to each demographic? What are the pain points of each? How will the uniqueness of each audience segment affect how you speak to them via marketing content and even the point at which they enter the sales funnel? Using the shoe example once more, you would use very different marketing tactics to speak to a senior who wants a supportive shoe for walking than to a woman in her mid-30s who has completed a half-marathon and is training for a full marathon.
As a caveat, it’s also important to realize that your personas are not static. Your audience’s needs and goals will change over time. You must adapt your marketing tactics as things evolve. Otherwise, you’ll find that you’re increasingly irrelevant and out of touch with your own potential customers.
Describe Your Content Initiatives and Strategies
Now we get to where the rubber meets the road, to some extent. It’s time to start talking about content – what will you create? How will it be used? Where will it fit within your wider marketing plan? There’s a lot to consider at this point in your plan development.
- Types: What content types will you develop? Are you going to focus on email marketing and social media marketing? How lightly or heavily will you be using promotion CTAS? What about blogging? Downloadable content like reports? Loss leaders and incentives like eBooks and white papers? What about PPC campaigns and paid social ads? Video content?
Content marketing is a vast world and each type has a potential role to play. With that being said, not all types are right for every company. It’s important to go into this process with a good idea of the most relevant and appealing content types for the audience and then experiment with others down the road.
- Volume: It takes time and money to produce marketing content. How much will you produce of each type? Will your production be weighted more toward one type of content than another? Is that decision backed up with evidence or is it based on sentiment or guesswork? You must put your efforts into content that will have the most impact, but it can be challenging to gauge impact, because some types of content generate immediate results (PPC, for instance), while others generate results much farther down the road (an email nurture sequence, for example).
- Tracking: How will you track the performance of each content initiative? What KPIs will you use with each type? Who is in charge of tracking each content’s KPIs and how will those be reported? Remember that KPIs can be both marketing goals and evidence of progress toward larger objectives. In addition, they can be signs that your content marketing objectives need to be adjusted, or that other elements need to be refined to better resonate with your audience.
You’ll also need to make wise, timely choices about how you’ll distribute content. It’s very easy to be overwhelmed with the number of distribution channels available today. It’s also easy to be swayed one way or another because one company had great results from this channel or other.
Understand from the outset that what works for one company may or may not work for yours. For instance, Twitter can be a valuable tool for some firms. For others, it won’t generate much return, and they will be better served using LinkedIn. Some will find a lot of value in offering incentives like free eBooks and guides, while others are better served with high-quality video content.
How do you determine which is right for your needs? It comes down to one thing: knowing your audience. Where do they congregate online? It’s pointless to go to the trouble of marketing on a platform if your audience members aren’t there in numbers sufficient to justify the investment.
Highlight the Omissions in Your Plan
No marketing plan can cover absolutely everything, nor should they. They’re not a one-size-fits-all vehicle for all aspects of the business. Determine what you’re going to focus on and then highlight what will be omitted – anything that falls outside of your focus area.
This is important because it will help to justify the results you achieve, the KPIs you use to track your efforts, the content that you create, and even the buyer personas that you use. No marketing plan can fit everyone’s needs, so determine what your plan will NOT do and make that clear. This way, you’re not on the hook if the plan fails to generate a result that someone else might be looking for but wasn’t part of the plan in the first place.
Explore Your Competition
No company operates in a vacuum. No matter how new your service or how innovative your product or services might be, you have competitors. You must know who they are, what they’re doing, even their weaknesses and how they’re engaging with their audience (because those group of people are also your audience).
How do you get access to that information? Some marketing segment data is available right out there for anyone to see. A quick Google search can yield rich results. Do the same thing on social platforms and you can start to see what your competitors are doing, but if you really want to kick things into high gear, you should sign up for competitor’s email deals and newsletters, explore their blog posts, and subscribe to their YouTube channels.
Look for challenges that each competitor poses to your organization. What are their strengths? How do those compare to your company’s? Where can you outperform them? Use this information to inform your marketing plans.
Putting It All Together
Creating a marketing plan is not a simple thing. It requires a great deal of time, effort and resources, combined with a deep understanding of your company, audience, competitors, and so much more. Thankfully, there’s help available.If you’re struggling to put all these pieces together into something coherent, we can help – explore our Data Matrix, which can put together a complete marketing plan for you including an executive summary and budgeting expenses. Let us take your data and create a marketing plan that will guide your growth.
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