Similar to business plans, many feel that marketing plans belong to the history bin. The common critique is that by the time your marketing plan is done, it’s already outdated; and that marketing plans – just like business plans and other drafted plans – simply disappear into a drawer, never to be read again.
Yet, there is still a case to be made for marketing plans. Although marketing plans today have to be drafted differently than traditional methods prescribe, they are still invaluable to focus everyone toward the same goals. And there’s way more to it; read on to find out how you write a powerful marketing plan that can tackle the market of 2021 and beyond!
A moment of contemplation
Take this assignment as a moment to cast a critical look at your organization, both outward and inward. Starting with the former, have a good look at developments in the market and your target audience. How do your potential customers behave? What are their wishes? Have these changed over the past time? Furthermore, what are your competitors doing? Have they changed? Do you have more or less competition these days?
When it comes to looking inward, you have to reflect on your past marketing activities. How is the website performing? How do you judge the quality of your products and/or services? How are you progressing toward your goals? What problems or challenges are you dealing with?
But, how do you go about this contemplation in praxis?
1. Dedicate time!
When you go into contemplation, peace of mind is crucial. So, block everyone’s calendar at a moment that you are all fresh and energetic. Subsequently, prepare a plan to guide your session. This way, you automatically work goal-oriented and make sure that you won’t forget anything.
#Pro-tip: Consider doing your contemplation session at someone’s home or rent a space outside of the office. In order to be critical of current and past affairs, it helps to be in a different environment.
2. Analyze thoroughly but write concisely
A critical analysis demands being thorough and going into depth. However, when it comes to putting pen to paper it’s all about being concise. This forces you to be concrete and get to the essence of things, instead of writing seemingly thorough analyses that actually beat around the bush.
#Pro-tip: Write your analyses in bullet points, this way you’re forced to be concise. Moreover, these keywords and key phrases will come in handy when you get to writing the actual marketing plan too.
3. Describe your best customers
What kind of person are they? What are their challenges and needs in life, and how can these lead them to you – the solution that your product and/or service offers. In other words, what does their customer journey look like exactly?
Dare to pick and choose
After your analyses, it’s time to start drawing conclusions. This way, you move on to the insights that are relevant to your marketing, which will lead you to your marketing goals. In order to determine the insights that you can capitalize on, you need a clear oversight of the strengths and weaknesses of your organization in relation to the market.
For this, you can do a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) and make a confrontation matrix or simply write a Top 6 of the most important conclusions and/or insights. This is an important step because you cannot solve every problem or challenge right now. By creating this hierarchy, you automatically get to the focus points for this marketing plan.
#Pro-tip: Block another half-day, and let all team members read the analyses and conclusions. Then, let them write down the SWOT of your organization or make a Top 6 for themselves. Subsequently, discuss the various answers and make an ultimate/average SWOT or Top 6 that everyone agrees on.
Examples of marketing challenges or problems are:
- Too little website traffic
- The low conversion rate on the website
- A need to diversify in order to stay competitive
After this, you determine how these challenges or problems would be solved and in what timeframe. In other words, what quantified number would make you happy and not see it as the problem or challenge that it currently is anymore? In the example above, this could be: in the upcoming quarter/half-year/year we have to
- Increase website traffic by 25%
- Increase conversion rate by 10%
- Launch 2 extra products and/or services
Once again, get everyone in the team involved in these goals. This way you get to an average number that everyone is happy about, which ensures that all of you strive toward the same goals.
The steps of your actual marketing plan So, you’ve got your analyses, conclusions, and goals hierarchically organized. Now it’s time to start writing the actual marketing plan. Create a marketing mix out of 4, 6, or 7 Ps if you’re a product/service-oriented organization, or use the 4 C or SIVA marketing mix model if you’re a customer/client-oriented organization. In order to focus your marketing efforts effectively, it moreoever helps to visualize your customer journey map. This way, you always have a clear structure and easy action list that you can tick off.
#Pro-tip: Before you get into the details, write in 2-3 sentences what the red thread of your marketing strategy is. Describe in broad terms what you are going to do, how you’re going to do it, via which channels, and how this will realize your marketing goal. Then, keep this red thread next to you while drafting your plan so you work focused and stay on track.
Finally, finish every part of the plan with answering the following 3 questions:
- What is this part going to cost?
- Who is going to execute it (internally and/or externally)?
- How will you evaluate this plan when the set period is over?
Once you’ve gone through all the steps above, go through this list to put the final touches to your marketing plan. In effect, you’ll have yourself a modern marketing plan that is ready to tackle the market of tomorrow. If you made use of our tips, then you’ve drafted a plan that the entire team has been involved with. So, once you’re finished it’s time to present your fully-fledged plan to the rest of the team.
#Pro-tip: While it’s best to keep your presentation simple and casual, do make sure to emphasize the goal pinpointed on the horizon. In this, argue for your chosen strategy based on the challenges that you all formulated and ranked together.
With your presentation, you both give your team the fruits of their input efforts and convince them of the plan that you made out of it. In effect, the entire team can get behind your marketing plan, which increases the likelihood of it actually being implemented and not be put into the “we’ll-get-to-that-later” drawer.