When it comes to your digital marketing plan, a strong foundation will put you in a good position. Will your marketing plan change? Yes, 100%. Does that mean you shouldn’t bother with one? Absolutely not. Your marketing plan can help turn goals and ideas into a reality, give your team direction and measure success.
The thing about marketing plans is that they should be on-trend, fit for purpose, and regularly reviewed. It’s easy to set one up and leave it ticking along in the background. But your marketing plan gives your business direction, allows you to spot opportunities, and stand out from the competition. So, it needs to stay completely relevant.
We live in a time where data is more accessible than ever. With the right strategies, you can take that data and use it in a way that helps you to create a compelling story for strategic change. In this article, we try to understand digital marketing trends right now and the steps you can take to create an incredible marketing plan.
Skip ahead to:
- What is a marketing plan?
- Digital marketing trends right now
- 4 major components of a strong marketing strategy
- 10 steps for creating an incredible marketing plan
What is a marketing plan?
As a business owner, a marketing plan outlines your marketing strategy. It’s a roadmap to create, organize and implement marketing activities in a way that supports your business goals. Within your marketing plan, you could have separate strategies for different teams, but you still work towards the same business goals.
Your marketing plan may look a little different depending on your type of business, but generally it includes:
- An overview of your marketing goals
- Current business marketing position
- How you will track success
- A timeline for marketing activities
- A description of your target audience and ideal customer base
There are different marketing plans within your overall marketing strategy. Your social media marketing plan, paid marketing, and content marketing all need your time and energy. But they slot into the overarching goals of the company.
Digital marketing trends right now
Technology is a driving force in change across so many industries. There’s a reason why technology is such a disruptor; it changes the way consumers and businesses live and work. As innovation in technology continues and consumer priorities evolve, digital marketing trends emerge that could have holding power.
There’s a buzz around artificial intelligence (AI) and marketing at the moment. Artificial intelligence and machine learning appear to be dominating the tech scene right now. 61% of marketers say that AI is the most important aspect of their data strategy. Interestingly, more businesses are implementing AI across the workplace to increase productivity as well in retail to improve operations.
In marketing, AI-powered optimization will help give businesses a competitive edge. You can use chatbots that respond as if they were a real person. The need to be personal and yet conversational will be important, especially with chatbots. No one likes to speak to something that sounds like a robot and impersonal. Things like content optimization and SEO can use AI to improve content and rank higher in search results.
Marketers are aware of the powerful connection that video can create between businesses and customers. In today’s world, video has become the preferred form of communication. Video can increase ROI and is a great marketing tool for selling services and products. Audiences are eating up short, snappy videos. Video is an essential part of your digital marketing plan.
4 major components of a strong marketing strategy
Your marketing plan guides your marketing decisions and activities. It sets a strong foundation for your business. Ultimately, the goal of a marketing plan is to focus your efforts so that your marketing aligns with your overall business goals. Here are four major components of a great marketing strategy.
A compelling marketing plan opens with a comprehensive vision. You should be able to write down your thoughts and vision so that your team can read and fully understand them. Your marketing vision offers direction, underlines your overall business goals, and creates value for your company. This could include your mission statement, executive summary, marketing objectives, and goals to help you develop precise actions that will achieve greatness.
Another key section of your marketing plan is your unique selling proposition. This is what makes you, your business, your products, and your services the best. It tells your customers why they should choose you over the competition. In marketing, how you communicate your unique proposition is what will set you apart and increase conversions.
A good marketing plan has complete audience awareness. If you don’t know the inner thoughts of your audience, how do you know where they like to hang out online? Your target market influences several marketing decisions such as marketing channels, type of content, topics, tone, communication methods, and more.
Customer journey understanding
Mapping the customer journey gives you a better understanding of how a person goes from complete stranger to loyal and paying customer. If you can analyze user behavior, you can see how customers go through the marketing and sales process. This can give you insight into potential opportunities that you would have otherwise missed.
10 steps for creating an incredible marketing plan
Although marketing plans have similar elements and qualities, every business requires a tailored approach to its marketing. This is because you have different selling points, customers, products, and goals. Your marketing tactics and plan should assist in the growth of your business and support the overall business goals. To get started, here are 10 steps for creating an incredible marketing plan.
1. Start with a SWOT analysis
A SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. A SWOT analysis, or situation analysis, is a framework that businesses can use to evaluate their business and figure out their competitive edge. It’s a strategic planning technique that helps you to answer several key questions that can help you across the business. The analysis can help to generate new ideas, opportunities, and make effective strategic decisions. Here’s a breakdown of a SWOT analysis:
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- Strengths – your competitive edge, resources, and what your business excels at.
- Weaknesses – where are you underperforming and what can you improve?
- Opportunities – new market research opportunities, implementation of new technologies, and expansion ideas.
- Threats – evaluate competitors, potential regulations, and consumer trends that could adversely affect your business.
2. Set your goals
A goal is the top-level aim of your marketing plan. Typically, marketing goals are long-term. If you’re a little lost, the SWOT analysis can help you make those first marketing goals. Your objectives are smaller, precise actions. You have to complete marketing objectives to hit your goals. One way to set goals is by using SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) goals.
Broadly speaking, marketing goals can cover a few different areas like raising brand awareness, generating leads, increasing customer value, and creating thought leadership. These types of marketing goals can help you achieve broader business success.
3. Know your customers
Before you make any marketing decisions, understand your customers. Identify and describe who you are targeting and find out what makes them tick. Knowing your customers really is one of the most fundamental parts of any marketing plan. How do you create compelling content and marketing ideas if you don’t know who you are talking to?
By the time you start writing your marketing plan, you should have a solid understanding of your target audience. To help keep your target customers fresh in your mind, it can be helpful to create buyer personas, illustrations, and icons. Think about identifying demographics, goals, challenges, and identifiers. You want to know who they are and what they do, but also how they think, their hopes and fears.
4. Understand your product and services
This may sound like a simple one, but it’s about more than knowing your products and services. When you have a comprehensive understanding of what you offer, you can market it in a way that emphasizes the benefits and the potential amazing impact for a customer. You can also gather information on how existing customers use your products and what challenges your product or services solve.
All this helps you to identify new marketing opportunities to upsell to existing and new customers. For customers to truly see the value in your service, you and your employees need to embody that value with complete understanding and awareness.
5. Determine your marketing channels
The next step is to figure out your marketing channels. These are the highest-performing marketing channels for your business. Visualize and research your top channels and begin to identify areas where you would like to delve further into them with more resources. Some of the top marketing channels include:
- Email marketing
- Social media marketing
- Referral or word-of-mouth marketing
- Podcast marketing
- Search engine optimization
- Video or content marketing
6. Create marketing materials
As you can see, there are several marketing channels to consider. The best marketing materials depend on all the information you have already collected about your target audience and your type of business. Any piece of media that’s used to promote your products, company, or services is considered marketing material. These materials can tell your story, assist with the sales process, and close more deals. Ideas for marketing materials include:
- Case studies
7. Plan how you will spread your message
After you decide on the best marketing channels for you and start to think about your marketing mix and materials, the next step is the process of spreading your message. This could include elements like a content strategy, marketing campaign goals, timeline of delivery, and more specific marketing activities.
Your marketing roadmap will help you guide your marketing plan so that you can make decisions that will have a greater impact. Your organic digital marketing strategy will also fall into this section.
8. Outline how you will analyze your success
A key part of a successful marketing plan is having the ability to measure success. How will you know if you have hit your marketing goals and objectives? While some may be obvious, you need to decide how you will measure success.
There are all kinds of metrics you can use, but you will need to determine which key performance indicators (KPIs) you want to utilize. Metrics like ROI, conversion rates, and engagement can all give you insight into your campaign and let you measure success.
9. Implement content workflow
Think about the processes you need to put in place to manage content workflow. How will your team create marketing materials and content in an effective way? A good marketing flow has specific goals and objectives. You can plan and assign tasks, create and carry out activities, and then have the opportunity to review and approve marketing efforts.
It’s about streamlining your efforts so that your marketing team can create and perform tasks more effectively. Project management tools can help you to do this and reduce the number of tools that your small business uses as a whole.
10. Set your marketing budget
Finally, it’s important to set a marketing budget. Your budget and strategy allow you to spend effectively on the right channels for your business. A marketing budget can vary massively from one business to another.
Your budget will help you to stay on track with your finances, set benchmarks, and allocate funds to the right places.It’s an investment into the growth of your business. Your marketing budget will depend on your overheads, goals, price point, the market, and the type of marketing strategies you use.
Creating a marketing plan is a journey. But if you can craft a strong foundation of knowledge and understanding, you can make more impactful marketing decisions. All your research and analysis support a marketing plan that targets the right people in the right place with the right message. No doubt your marketing plan will evolve as consumer behaviors change and trends arise, but by starting with a clear plan in place you can guide your business in the right direction.