We’ve written enough blogs on the topic of marketing plans that you know by now, as a business owner spending money on marketing, that you need one. A strategic marketing plan comprises elements of your main business strategy, aligns and gives a structure to marketing tactics to be deployed, is a guide to your content, and creates a benchmark to achieve your goals.
At LAIRE we call our client marketing plan engagements - M.A.P. (Marketing Action Plan by LAIRE®) because it is just that – the actions your business needs to reach your goals, not just a vision statement written in a document left in a drawer.
And of course, when creating a marketing strategy there are some best practices to follow. We’ll highlight some key areas of a highly effective marketing plan and the tips we’ve learned and employed over the years. We know following these will make your marketing approach that much more objective, effective, and successful.
Setting Company Goals
Best Practice: Work Backwards on the Revenue Chain
The first step in developing a marketing strategy is to set S.M.A.R.T goals - meaning goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. To formulate a marketing strategy one must understand past and current key performance indicators (KPIs). Another aspect of setting goals should rely on market research of market segments that align with your business and services. Marketing goals should be based on reaching your target audience through various marketing channels, ultimately aligning your KPIs with industry benchmarks. Until you understand your trends, you can’t expect to push beyond the norm.
- What has been the yearly increase (or decrease) in your revenue? What does “normal” growth for your business look like, and what do you want it to look like in the future?
- What is your website traffic, how has it grown over time, and what does your website traffic attribution look like? What percentage of your website traffic originates from organic search, paid campaigns, referrals, social media marketing, etc.?
- Out of your leads, how many have closed into clients? What is your current lead closing rate and how has it changed in recent years? Has it increased or decreased??
Our best practice for setting revenue and lead goals is to work backward. Follow the chain from the revenue dollars you want to reach, back to the origin of how that revenue will be generated.
Here’s a chart highlighting a local granite and stone countertop supplier’s goal to close $500,000 in sales originating from its website. Working backward from the revenue goal, $500,000 represents 50 transactions a year, at an average price of $10,000 per job. The sales team currently has a closing rate of 60%. That means that to get to 50 transactions a year, they will need 7 good leads (or qualified leads) a month. Again, working backward, if their website converts visitors to leads at a 1% minimum, they will need an average of 700 unique website visitors a month.
All of these metrics seem reachable until you learn that their current website visits are averaging 350 a month. To get to the $500,000 in web-originated sales, their digital marketing activities will need to focus on doubling their website traffic, and with high-quality visitors. Charting and following a chain like this helps you to understand just what levers need to be pulled to make a difference in your business, and if the goals you set are reasonable.
Defining Your Personas and Their Pain Points
Best Practice: Don’t Skip the Interview
When you are developing a marketing plan, it’s important to define and label who your existing and ideal buyer personas are, assume nothing! Yes, it is a great idea to survey your team and departments for who the average client is (demographics, complaints, successes, preferences). However, with the speed at which client behaviors and attitudes are changing, it is best to speak directly to your clients.
Get a list of your A-bucket clients and conduct 15-minute interviews with them. Who better to tell you which social media channel they use the most; the keywords they use for your services; how they decide what to purchase. We recommend having a neutral third party manage your buyer persona interviews – your clients are likely to divulge more to an outsider than they would ever tell you!
Best Practice: Search Beyond Your Frenemies
Though most marketing managers can list their competition by heart, it’s important to do regular research to gauge what new competitors are entering your market segment. Who are the businesses on the fringe that could be making a move into your market segment? Companies launch or reinvent themselves every day. Identify the other businesses your prospects could be found by doing a search engine analysis.
Type keywords for your business into Google. What are businesses advertising at the top and bottom of the page? What businesses are showing up first in the map results? What business has the most Google reviews?
THESE are the businesses that your prospects are seeing before or beside you.
Then take this list of companies and explore their website, product offering, and social media presence. How are they answering their prospects' needs or questions – or how are they not? This analysis will help you understand how you are different, or where your positioning needs to be adjusted to answer the needs of the market.
Crafting a Content Plan and Schedule
Best Practice: It’s Not Just About the Leads
Creating a plan for the content on your website and beyond is smart, and basing that plan on keywords and topics is even smarter. Writing articles centered around key search terms is a strong way to get your website pages to appear in search queries… for NEW people discovering your business (aka leads). But what about your existing clients? They may still have questions about the products or services they’ve already purchased. And there are ways to delight your client base through content that can, in turn, help grow your referrals.
So our tip for planning the mix of content you will produce (blogs, ebooks, landing pages, emails, etc.) is to include topics for your existing clients. Don’t underestimate this group’s power to generate website traffic and future sales for your business!
Final Best Practice – Be Objective!
The last step in the marketing process often includes objectivity. Making assumptions and blanket statements at any stage of creating your plan could sink the whole ship. Be sure to include all company stakeholders in your process. Someone in sales may have a very different viewpoint than your accounting personnel. And your key team members must be on board with the plan, feel it is achievable, and are empowered to carry it out.
In the effort to stay objective, a real best practice is to use an outside source, such as a marketing agency, to help you create your marketing plan so it is not slanted based on what you think you already know about your business and clients. Short-term and long-term marketing strategies require ample thought, research, and understanding of your target audience in regards to how they think, feel, and make decisions.
At LAIRE, we specialize in marketing strategy development and work with a variety of clients to teach them the importance of a marketing strategy, how to develop effective marketing strategies, and ultimately, how to implement a marketing plan successfully. If you’re looking to enhance your marketing efforts, increase brand awareness, improve your leads and closed deals, and ensure you’re reaching your marketing goals for 2022 and beyond, schedule a free marketing consultation with us to discuss your business and marketing goals and see where you can experience growth with a realigned marketing plan.