Create a Marketing Plan in 5 easy steps

Guide
It began as a pretty typical day…

I was in my car often, going from meetings to appointments and more meetings.

As a business owner and entrepreneur, I like to use the time in my car to keep myself educated and listen to podcasts–a perfect way to keep motivated, inspired and in the know with a busy schedule. I’m a marketer, so naturally, I love listening to marketing podcasts.

Two of my favorites right now are The Marketing Book Podcast (weekly interviews with best-selling authors in the marketing field) and Marketing Inbound (business partners Kate Rabe and Ed Weeks talk about the strategies and tactics they use to market their clients…full disclosure: I may be a little biased here… Kate Rabe is a good friend of mine, and I know Ed Weeks pretty well too).

Oddly enough, The Marketing Book Podcast and Marketing Inbound both had episodes in my feed on marketing plans that day.

Marketing Plan Strategy for Small BusinessesI’ll be honest… when I started listening, I said to myself, “Yawn… I know about marketing plans… I help create marketing plans! Heck, I even teach entrepreneurs how to create their own marketing plans (learn more about WEDC’s 60+ Hour Entreprenuerial Training Program)”

But, you know what? Even the best of the best in an industry needs a reminder now and again to get back to BASICS.

Sometimes I have a tendency to think that I’m beyond a good ‘ole marketing plan.

I run a marketing business. Surely I can skip that step and just GET to marketing KDD?

WRONG! To paraphrase Kate Rabe in her podcast, I would never try to get somewhere I’d never been without a map. I don’t even try to get places that I’m marginally familiar with without using my maps app on my smartphone.

So as I sat there that night, working on my business, making plans for some future advertising and lead generation, I started to realize I was having difficulty figuring out what to do and where to begin.

Suddenly, I knew WHY I was having so much trouble. I had skipped the all-important step of the MARKETING PLAN!

Enter Allan Dib. The Marketing Book Podcast I had listened to intrigued me.

Guest and author Allan Dib discussed his 1-Page Marketing Plan book, and I knew I had to get my hands on one.

I’m a very visual person. Seeing an entire plan, neatly organized on one page was tantalizing! So I downloaded a copy (get a copy here) and got to work.

Disclaimer: I don’t recommend trying to fill this out without understanding it. The best way to do that is to buy his book!

As a marketer, I felt I had a pretty good idea where Mr. Dib was going with his 1-page plan. I was able to jump right in.

But for those non-marketers, what follows is my easy-to-follow guide to creating your very own marketing plan! (Note: this does not follow nor replace the 1-page marketing plan).


Creating a Marketing Plan: The 5 Steps

Marketing Plan Step 1: RESEARCH

Marketing Plan ResearchResearch your Industry

You can’t expect to have a solid plan for your business, let alone your marketing, if you don’t have a solid understanding of your industry, whether it’s growing, experiencing change, shrinking, or relatively stagnant.

Do the research and make sure you have proof that your business is relevant.

Research your Competition

To effectively market your business, you need to know who else is out there in your space.

Who will you be competing against? What are their strengths and weaknesses, how do they handle pricing, what’s their brand strategy, what’s their voice?

At the very least, you need to differentiate yourself from your competitors.

Marketing Plan Target MarketResearch your Target Market

Probably one of the most important parts of a marketing plan is identifying your target market.

An often overlooked step, this is where you nail down specifically WHO you want to take action with your campaign or become a customer of your brand.

The answer is never ever EVER “Anyone.”

You must identify both demographic types (stats such as age, gender, marital status, income, education, location, etc) and psychographic types (such as personality types, beliefs, political leanings, favorite ways to spend free time, etc.).

You’re essentially creating what we call a persona—a profile (or two or three) of an example customer. Give them a name! Grab a stock photo and give them a face! Post them on your wall and look at them. Know that they are who you are speaking to when you are building your brand or campaign.

 

Marketing Plan Step 2: IDENTIFY

Identify your GOAL

I believe this is one of the most overlooked questions when it comes to marketing  and marketing plans: what is your goal?

Whatever you are doing needs to have a purpose, a reason, an ultimate goal.

If you are building a brand, your goal should be to run a successful brand and business by identifying and reaching your audience, and engaging with that core.

If you are planning a campaign, you need to identify what you want to happen—is the campaign goal simply general awareness? Is it for the customer to take action? Lead generation? Actual sales?

Identify your goal upfront, and make sure every action you take towards that campaign is aimed at meeting that goal.

Marketing Plan MessageIdentify your message

So now you know WHO you are speaking to and WHY you are speaking to them. The next step is to identify WHAT you are going to say to them.

What exactly is your message?

You know what action you want the audience to take, so what do you need to say to them that is going to create the need for them to take action.

Remember, we make decisions with our hearts, not our heads. Your message should in some way be emotions-driven.

 

Marketing Plan Step 3: PLAN

Marketing Plan StrategyPlan how you will reach your target market

You’re nearly there!

You’ve got the WHO, the WHAT, and the WHY…. what’s next?

The WHEN, WHERE, and HOW of course!

This is the point at which you determine what platform you are going to use to reach your audience, and truly map out that plan on a calendar and alongside your budget.

This could be any combination of tactics, depending on your GOAL.

For instance, you may be looking at a combination of email marketing, facebook advertising, and Google AdWords. Maybe you are in the early stages of your business, and need to build a website, social media pages, attend networking events, and hold a seminar.

Plan how you will engage your target market

Once you have started your campaign or launched your brand, you will need to also be engaging with your customer.

Remember, you can’t just market to people — Elevating your engagement is everything!

So you must plan ahead before you launch — how will you engage and nurture your customers once they have taken the action you hoped for?

Don’t just leave them hanging. Bridge them from being potential customers to brand lovers!

 

Marketing Plan Step 4: EXECUTE

Now, and only now, once you’ve completed steps 1 through 3, can you actually execute your plan.

And guess what? Now that you have all those plans, details, and notes in place, this step is actually the easiest step!

Hit the GO button, sit back and relax!

 

Marketing Plan Step 5: EVALUATE

Marketing Plan EvaluationBut don’t relax too much. Now is the fun part, where you need to keep your eyes and ears open.

What is working? What isn’t?

Are you getting the engagement, awareness, lead generation, or sales you had hoped for?

Take notes. Identify what worked well and what didn’t.

Depending on the tactics you are using, you may have the opportunity to tweak your current marketing plan, or you will be able to use this data to make a better marketing plan next time.


GET YOUR MARKETING PLAN WORKSHEET HERE

I followed these steps and am well on my way to my next advertising campaign. We use these steps with many clients, depending on their needs. Is there something you are struggling with? Have a question? We love to help! Send us your burning questions!!