I speak with a lot of business owners who are in the same boat. They are experts at what they do, but not necessarily experts in marketing and business development.
So they try a little bit of this, and a little bit of that to find out what sticks.
However, this can be time-consuming and expensive. Before doing any more marketing, social media posts or ads, make sure you have set the foundations with a solid written-down marketing plan for your business.
What are the benefits of having a written down marketing plan?
Statistically, you are more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. According to Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor from California, you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you put pen to paper. Let that sink in. That is super awesome!
Having a written down marketing plan helps you clarify what you want in your business. When I first started, I thought I wanted to grow a big agency with staff and a huge office space (complete with space hoppers and a real-life houseplant jungle), but when I wrote down my plan, I realised that I wanted to offer training as a solo ranger. So I wouldn't be needing all that.
Having a written down plan helps you be more consistent. Whether that's consistency around content creation, following up quotes, booking new business Zoom coffees, speaking at events, or cold-calling prospects, having a plan and specific targets helps you cultivate new and beneficial habits to grow your business.
Another benefit is that it will keep you from veering off the path, which will, in turn, save you money. With a written down plan, it will be so much easier to turn down opportunities that won't help you meet your business objectives. You won't be tempted to overspend. You'll also stop wasting money on trialing things that won't bring results.
You will feel less overwhelmed by business development if you have a written down plan. You will tackle things in bitesize manageable chunks and enjoy ticking things off your list as you easily complete your goals.
If you have staff, you can share this with them so they buy into your vision for the business. They will be more motivated knowing the plan, and what they are working towards in partnership with you. It gives lovely feel-good vibes.
What should be included in a written down marketing plan?
Business goals - ask yourself, what would you like to achieve over the next 12 months? Then write that down. These achievements will be completely personal to you and your business. Being specific is best. For example, your business goal might be to sell 200 hearing aids at £100 each over the next six months to create a revenue of £120,000.
Marketing goals - what marketing things are you going to put in place to help you achieve your business goals? For example, to achieve your business goal, your marketing goal will be to launch a consumer regional campaign to raise awareness and sales of your traditional hearing aids to over 60s over quarter 1, then a national consumer campaign to raise awareness and sales of your discreet hearing aids to people with hearing loss under 30.
Target customer profile - you can really drill down into all sorts of detail about your target customer, but the main info you will need is basic demographics and where they consume media, where they shop, and where they hang out. In our example, the first campaign will be targeted at retirees and the second one to Gen Y. They are totally different customer segments and you will need to research their ecosystem in order to show up in it.
Target sectors - this is more appropriate for b2b businesses. Write out all your target sectors, or sectors you are already strong in, and work out an order to put them in, one per quarter over the next 12 months. In our example, we could drill this down into geographical sectors, aka regional and national.
Target products to promote - this is more appropriate for consumer-based businesses, but can include b2b. Dice up your most profitable products and put them in order them, one per quarter, over the next 12 months. In our example the target products we will promote are the traditional hearing aids in Q1 and discreet hearing aids in Q2.
The best channels to reach your target customer - take each audience and plan our the best channels to reach them. In our example, you might use at Facebook ads, print advertising in the local press, email marketing and in-store demos at golf clubs, leisure centres or doctors surgeries for your regional over 60s campaign. For your Gen Y, you might look at a content partnership with charities that support young people with hearing loss, TikTok content and YouTube ads.
Which tactics you are going to use to reach them in these channels - for example, these could be case studies, latest reports or stats, product showcases, or reactive news stories.
What assets you are going to need - outline what bits and bobs you are going to need to create these campaigns. In our example, assets may include; landing pages x 2, YouTube ads, guest blog posts, email templates, newspaper ads, event materials for pop-ups, brochures, PDF product sheets, social posts (and a content plan).
How you are going to measure success - jot down a couple of metrics to show whether your efforts have worked. These might be number of new followers and engagements on social media, brochure downloads, email sign-ups, website visits, PR gained, enquiries and sales.
Marketing budget - a good rule of thumb when it comes to getting a marketing budget is 10% of target revenue. So in our example, the target revenue over 6 months is £120,000. So the marketing budget we are going to set aside to achieve this will be £12,000. Then we can split that into all the different tactics we are going to need to reach our target audiences.
How many months should my marketing plan cover?
It is completely up to you but I usually work to a 12-month plan, broken down into quarters.
When I am working with new clients, usually we need the first month to sort out the foundations. By this, I mean things like new landing pages on the website, a content plan, an awards schedule, hashtag research or a set of brand photos.
Then we get to work quarter by quarter, usually focussing on one sector, service or produce per quarter. We look at re-engaging past clients as well as attracting new clients. This keeps us super focussed.
What format should it be in?
I try to avoid creating marketing plans that are overly wordy. Whatever you create, make sure it is something you can easily update and tweak as you go. I tend to use Excel, with one tab per area. This is then hosted on Google Drive with a shareable secure link. That way I can share the strategy with other stakeholders or grab it when I need it easily. This also stops different variants being saved in different places.
Should I be using a sales and marketing funnel?
It is useful to have an awareness of the sales and marketing funnel. This is so you can ensure you are using the right tactics at each stage.
For example, if we are at the awareness stage of the funnel, you might be employing ads or pop-up events. Then, someone may remember your company and Google you.
Search engine marketing is a core part of the consideration stage. So are reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations.
If the prospect likes your website and testimonials, they may go on to the conversion stage. Ideally, you want this to be a purchase, but more often than not this will be a website action such as completing a quick enquiry form or signing up for your e-newsletter. This is where you will need to have landing pages and forms that are easy to navigate through and fill in.
The final loyalty stage can be achieved through ongoing education, cross and upselling, and referral marketing.
I'd always advise writing out a sales and marketing funnel for each quarterly campaign you run.
Need help creating a 12-month written-down marketing plan?
If you need help with this, check out my 3-hour marketing masterclass which is designed to create a 12-month plan for your business.
If you're local, 'll come to your workplace or we can do it via video chat. But it will give you a firm foundation so that your marketing will be less scattergun and more stupendous!