As we head into the dawn of a new financial year, it’s a natural time to draw a line in the sand and start afresh. If you feel like you want a fresh start when it comes to your marketing plan, then here’s our advice on how to create an outstanding one in just five steps.

Do your research

It’s really important to know exactly where your product or service fits in the marketplace. Where are you in terms of price and perceived value or quality? Where do your competitors sit in that same matrix? You have to be really honest here. You may believe your level of service to be first-class, but is that where your potential customers would place you? We’re not saying you can’t get to that position, but this analysis is looking at where you are now.

The next bit of research is specific to your target customer. You need to know everything about them (or as much as possible) so that your messaging cuts through the noise and resonates with your potential customer. The message should relate to where your customer is in the buying cycle. For example, they may be researching potential solutions to a problem they have – at this stage, your messaging needs to educate them as to why your type of product is the right solution. Further into the buying journey, your messaging can focus on why they should buy your product over competitors.

Get SMART about your goals

Without a clearly defined destination, it’ll be difficult to map out a route for how to get there. This is why your goals have to be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time bound. The ‘A’ is really important – make sure that your goals are actually something that can be achieved. As admirable as it is to want to be the number one brand in your space, remember that this level of success rarely happens overnight. It’s much better (and far more motivating) to break down the steps and hit multiple goals along the way.

Your SMART goals will then inform the next stages of your marketing plan, which is why it’s important to get them right. In fact Zig Ziglar summarised this in a great quote: “A goal properly set is halfway reached.”

Define your budget

We understand that the return from marketing spend isn’t as transparent as sales revenue (so much so, we wrote this blog about it: “Why measuring marketing ROI can be difficult”) but a budget still needs to be set, and you need to track how you spend it.

Portion your budget to be spent on the areas you’ve defined in your SMART goals. If you need more leads coming in at the top of the sales funnel, then your budget should be allocated to that part of the customer journey. Equally, if you’re generating the right amount of enquiries but your conversion rate has dropped, then focus your budget on improving that level of conversion – it’ll be a much better use of your money! And make sure you stick to that budget. Tempting opportunities will crop up, but if you’ve done your research into where your money will be spent, then most likely you will have uncovered them. Small amount of money spent here and there soon add up!

Plan your activity

Once you know where you want to go and you have your budget defined, it’s time to map out how you’re going to market your business. This is where you go into more detail about the specific activities you’ll be doing. For example, which events you plan to exhibit at, how much and how often you’ll spend with Google Ads, how frequently you’ll publish new blogs on your website.

List the activities underneath the SMART goal which they relate to so that you can clearly see how that activity is going to help grow your business. Include the allocated budget spend too.

Review and adapt

Your marketing plan shouldn’t be filed away once complete – it should be a living, breathing document! You want to track how the activities you’ve planned are performing, because (without spoiling the surprise) the results won’t be as linear as your plan. Some activities will perform better than you’d hoped, and others not as well. But that’s the beauty of your plan being a living document – you can (and should) review and adapt what you’re doing.

Track the results (whether that’s leads, quotes, sales) each month and then each quarter review where you are against where you planned to be. Consider reallocating budget to marketing activity which is overperforming in terms of return. Perhaps as a result of investing in activity to increase qualified leads coming into your business, your sales department is struggling to keep up with demand. You may choose to divert the budget to some temporary sales staff to help catch up.

Marketing Plans with PP8 Marketing

If you’d prefer to have an experienced marketing team work with you to define your marketing plan and manage it throughout the year, then PP8 Marketing are here to help. It all starts with a free 20 minute call to discuss your business.