Knowing which direction to take your business and how to get there requires a comprehensive and actionable marketing plan
Digital marketing trends come and go as each year passes. Being aware of them and planning to take advantage of them to give your business’s revenue a lift is useful, but concerning your strategic marketing plan, you need to take a broader view and consider both short- and long-term goals and methods.
Your marketing plan is a detailed roadmap your company will travel throughout the year. It should encompass everything including who your customers are, what your content marketing strategy is, the marketing and promotions budget you will adhere to, the campaigns and tactics you will deploy and more.
Seven Essential Steps to Strategic Marketing Planning
Every business is idiosyncratic and requires a clear marketing plan pertinent to its overall revenue goals and aims. Although there is no universal strategy your organization can adopt and follow, there are a series of established and sensible steps you can take to create an annual marketing plan that will suit your needs:
- Establish a Practical Promotional and Marketing Budget. Your budget will dictate what you will be able to achieve monthly, quarterly, and annually. Promoting and marketing events, products and services, and your company’s philosophy on doing business costs money. If your company’s marketing budget is modest, you will need to be creative, and allocate funds to the most important initiatives you will plan throughout the year.
- Revisit and Refresh Your Customer Personas. Customer or buyer personas are representations of your different customer segments, both real and desired. To get an accurate picture of who your customers are, you will need data derived from existing customer surveys and interviews, as well as other sources such as Google Analytics or Facebook Insights. Broadly defining your ideal customer personas will help your team understand who your customers are, what their needs are, and how your company can help them.
- Understand What Your Differentiators Are. What does your business do differently than all of your competitors? What is your unique selling proposition? What are your core values and your company’s key messages? Knowing what’s distinct about your company, its products and services, how they apply to your targeted customer persona segments as well as the messaging you will use for various media types will help you prepare a well-rounded content campaign or editorial calendar.
- Detail What Your Marketing Goals Are. What do you hope to achieve in the new year? Determining what your marketing goals are should go hand-in-hand with what your business’s overall goals are. Is that an increase in sales per quarter? Be realistic and ensure your goals are precise and well understood by everyone on your team.
- Evaluate Your Website and Marketing Collateral. Does your corporate website look outdated? Is it awkward to navigate? And is it a responsive website? What about all of your digital and printed marketing collateral? Make it an annual exercise to reassess all of your marketing channels and properties and ensure they are targeting the right audiences, and parlaying the right messages.
- Review Your Sales Strategy. Do you have a comprehensive and flexible sales strategy with achievable sales targets quarter-over-quarter? Or are you flying by the seat of your pants and making it up as you go? Although it is an important part of a holistic marketing strategy, your sales strategy should focus on increasing sales and meeting your quarterly revenue targets. It should include details about the customer’s journey both pre- and post-sale.
- Define Metrics to Measure Performance. You can’t determine success or failure or shift gears if need be without data that validates what worked and what didn’t. Once you’ve identified the key performance metrics you want to track, and the tools and methodologies you’ll use to measure your success, host regular meetings with your sales and marketing teams to decide if any changes are required and how to go about them.
Once you’ve reviewed how your company performed the previous year, and upon completing these steps above, you should be ready to craft a practical marketing strategy for the new year that will help your company meet its objectives.