This write-up, in two parts, follows on from the post growing your business with a better marketing surge. This helps in creating a practical marketing plan. You must align your business goals and marketing plan so that your strategies, as part of your tactics, can affect outcomes directly and enable meet your goals.
Integrate business goals into marketing priorities in order to plan practical marketing campaigns and associated programmes for implementation by the right people with sufficient financial resources.
Marketing actions never be jumped
Do not jump marketing activities from one to the next without a clear priority and plan in place. Start working on your plan with the following elements.
|1. Foremost, make a SWOT analysis. Know your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your marketing as of date.|
|2. List out your business goals and their corresponding metrics.|
|3. Have information on your competition/competitors and their products/services. Also, get your relevant market insight.|
|4. Identify prospective customers for your business and know what could be their buying cycle.|
|5. Similarly, identify what could be the customer’s lifecycle.|
|6. Research marketing opportunities, channels and tactics.|
While goals and priorities are more or less fixed, at least for a while, your specific campaign tactics may vary from time to time as your situation demands.
Fundamentals of marketing plan
To start with, define your marketing goals and corresponding metrics for the next 12 months that become the foundation for your marketing plan.
The examples of goals and metrics can be as follows:
|Grow turnover||by 20%|
|Grow gross profit||by 25%|
|Expand into new region||One region|
|Add new services/products||One|
You can add as many goals as you wish, but add one or two important goals for your business. This helps to prioritise your plan for the next 12 months period. Before making such a plan, also discuss with your staff and other stakeholders to take their input to make your plan more practicable.
After deciding your goals and metric, communicate the same plan to your staff and other stakeholders that implement the plan to achieve the results.
Research on customers
As customers are key for marketing planning, talk to a few customers to know what steps they have taken before contacting you for buying. Know how they have narrowed their search and zeroed on you. This will allow knowing what considerations a customer considers before purchasing his requirements. So, you can narrow down your search for new customers basing on such feedback.
Be methodical in your approach, because the early stages of the customer experience are where marketing has the most influence. If a customer organisation has over one person involved in the buying process, try speaking with everyone to elicit their individual feedback.
Also, know how the customer has realised he has a need, where and how could they found their needed solutions and how did they evaluate each one for selection. Know about steps taken by them during their journey, such as specific publications they read, specific conferences or webinars they attended. How many firms have they shortlisted and how did they come to know about you and why did they choose your solution(s).
Such information will help formulate your plan to search for other prospective customers who look for similar services like yours. Using or expanding previously validated channels is an excellent way to increase your funnel of opportunities and your growth. Consider your SWOT analysis to know where you should expand marketing capabilities. Begin with your strong points and work your way down to your weaknesses. Also, try to know what your competitors do and their strategy to attract customers.
Do not overburden yourself with multiple strategies in the first year. Just stick to the ones that worked for you or your competitors. Do not market without evaluating. Evaluation allows you to save money on ineffective efforts. Before deciding which marketing channels to use, analyse your preparedness regarding availability of collateral, specifically important marketing content. These can be brochures, testimonials, ebooks and documentation describing your services, etc.
Channel selection for marketing
At this stage of marketing plan, consider what channels to use for marketing such as advertisements, your website, creating blog content or considering speaking at industry events, taking part in exhibitions or appointing partners or agents of propagation. Or just identify prospects and do one-to-one marketing.
Then, you should have insightful content that works as your influential communicator. You need to create that type of compelling content that should connect with your customers. When they think about how to solve or meet their problems or needs, your content should stimulate them to contact you.
In contrast to general knowledge, compelling content is of specialised knowledge. Specialized knowledge includes your company’s skills, deep understanding, qualifications, and know-how that others and your customers do not have.
As an example, consider an accounting firm. This firm is expected to have all the accounting knowledge that is expected of other accounting firms. Because all accounting firms expect to have similar knowledge, it is not a specialised knowledge for their category of companies, but is general.
Now consider that you provide accounting services to only filming industry. Compared to other accounting firms, now you have specialised knowledge of the accounting practices of the filming industry. The content you create has a special value over the content of others for those who want similar accounting services.
Therefore, the marketing tactics for these two differ with different approaches and different channels.
Given that the stakes in the services industry are so high, the marketing strategy has become more personal, even though channels such as advertising as conventional medium remain important and effective.
By observing the actions of the concerned individuals in the prospective company, you can predict their behaviour if they are in the buying cycle or close to it or disinterested. Messaging or talking to them suitably as per their interest is the foundation for one-to-one marketing. Howsoever daunting task it may be, advances in marketing technology are bringing this exercise within the reach of everyone. The technology combines one-on-one communication with marketing automation.
However, automated marketing is difficult to produce results, though it is a suitable tool for one-to-one marketing. There is a need to put in a lot of efforts and spend much time before any tangible results can trickle in. You cannot attend to every marketing, network, and seminar events where you have a chance of meeting prospects one-to-one. You can attend a few, because of cost, time and human resources problems.
Importance of Content marketing
One alternative is to create compelling content, besides one-to-one meetings. But how can it be effective on top of all marketing tactics? Compelling content attracts readers’ attention, leads to lead generation, can increase direct sales, and builds brand loyalty. It costs 62 percent less compared to traditional marketing and gives leads three times more per dollar cost. Such is the importance of content marketing for lead generation.
According to DemandGen Report – 2017 Content Preferences Survey, “buyers are most willing to register for and share information about themselves in exchange for white papers (76 percent said they will share information), eBooks (63 percent), webinars (79 percent), case studies (57 percent) and third-party/analyst reports (66 percent).”
And to go beyond one-to-one- reach, here’s a list of the fundamentals you’ll need to put in place to develop your strategy. These can become sophisticated marketing tools in two to three years.
|Have a great website consistently delivering prescriptive and compelling content for your market on demand. “Prescriptive content that lays out a formula for success was the most popular type of content among B2B buyers in 2017, with 97 percent citing it.” (DemandGen Report – 2017 Content Preferences Survey)|
|Create and maintain testimonials and a portfolio of case studies.|
|Improve your thought-leadership role.|
|Create prescriptive content to inform the market about what they need to know about your services.|
|Establish a narrative that makes your offer appealing to prospects.|
|Consider creating blogs, ebooks, white papers and webinar presentations if possible. You can start creating these one by one if not all at once.|
|Try automated marketing tools such as email marketing.|
The next part of this write-up will discuss how to put a marketing plan into practice.