Planning and Preparation Prevent Poor Performance. This is one of the mottos of the marines, so we come back again to warfare.
In the last article we looked at the marketing tactics to underpin your marketing strategy. This final article in The Practical and Unscary Guide to Marketing Strategy series uncovers the steps in creating a marketing plan. After all the strategy work that’s gone before, this is where the plan fits in.
If you want to achieve your strategic goals, you MUST plan.
A Gantt chart can be useful for creating a marketing plan.
Choose topic areas and dates by when you want to achieve them. Topic areas are broken into tasks, and this allows you to create a realistic timeframe for when you can get something done.
It’s also important to focus on a couple of things at a time, rather than doing bits of different tasks and not completing any of them. Concentrate your efforts and schedule time for your marketing. A Gantt chart gives you a clear structure and illustrates that you need to finish one task before you move on to the next.
On the left-hand side of your Gantt chart, note the big topic areas and any sub-tasks that go along with them. Across the top, you put your timeline, and a column for your budget. Map out what you’re going to do, but make sure that it’s appropriate for the target market.
Decide who is responsible for this development. Is it a named person within your team, or is it something that you’re going to outsource? People need to own the tasks to ensure that they get done. And a definite start and end date are vital. Some items will be done as a set project, others will be things that are done regularly.
Schedule them on the Gantt chart then set aside the time in your diary to work on them.
How much will it cost to undertake this marketing plan?
Some things are free, which is why we like content and digital marketing so much. There will be a time cost though, so think about that.
How will you measure your marketing plan?
You need to regularly monitor and measure your activities to make sure you’re on track. Some of the things you might think about include customer satisfaction – via surveys or feedback, perhaps via your website, which is all about retention. You may think about increasing your profit or your turnover. You can keep the same turnover or reduce it through efficiencies, and thereby increase your profit. You may also think about increased sales, and market share.
Web analytics looks at where the traffic to your site is coming from and are you getting an increase due to all the activity you’ve undertaken? What are people doing on your website, how much time are they spending and are they converting (signing up to newsletters, accessing downloads, following calls to action)?
Next, think about what shape your strategy is.
It depends on what you want to achieve, but the smart strategy should be circular, because you should always be learning and feeding back into your business.
Next time you review your strategy, you’re not starting from zero, you’re reviewing what you’ve done, to see if you’re still on track and to look at some of the goals you set, because they may have changed as new opportunities come up.
Let’s recap what we’ve learned in this blog series…
Five Things to Do Before You Start Your Marketing Strategy
- Think about the kind of future you want for your business. Do you want to stay a sole trader or micro-business? That’s fine, because it’s manageable and based on your skills, but you should still want to grow your revenue.
- Get clear on when you would like that ‘future’ to start. When would you like this to take place and this ‘future’ to be a reality? There may be other factors in your life that need to happen first, either personally or in the business.
- Do key partners and stakeholders share your dreams? Is everyone on board? Family and friends also come into this section. When not everyone agrees, business partnerships can fall down.
- Research your three marketing environments for barriers, opportunities and threats, because doing so can be fascinating. You’ll also be in the minority, particularly if you do it regularly, because most business don’t do this, even the big companies who really should.
- The Ansoff matrix will help clarify the direction for your future plans – and also the timescale. Some things take time, and others can be done immediately, so plan carefully.
Are you worried your marketing isn’t working right now?
If leads and enquiries are drying up, you’re not attracting the right customers or you’re not making enough profit – it’s time to investigate.