August 31, 2015
Let’s be honest: if you’re a business owner and you don’t have a marketing plan, you’re basically flying blind with your marketing efforts. Quite often, this results in businesses that:
- Waste a lot of time and money on marketing efforts that don’t work;
- Aren’t sure why they are doing their marketing;
- Have a very disjointed approach to their marketing platforms (and this reflects badly on their branding);
- Are inconsistent in their marketing;
- Find their growth stagnating.
Clearly, a marketing plan is not optional. However, just having a marketing plan isn’t enough. You have to actually put it into practice.
The problem with most marketing plans is that they are long, complicated, and boring – you’d probably never want to look at them again. That’s why for most small or medium businesses, a one-page marketing plan tends to work best. If you keep it simple, readable, and achievable, you might actually follow it.
Here are some pretty clear benefits of putting together a one-page marketing plan:
- You’ll be able to put it up on your wall and see it everyday;
- It’s simple enough for all of your employees to understand;
- It’s easy to make changes as you go;
- It’s visually engaging;
- It keeps you focused on the most important things (no chasing shiny objects);
- It’s the KISS principle in action.
Because you’re limited to one page, you can only put the most important elements on your marketing plan. Each of these elements are explained in detail below.
You can’t market yourself if you don’t know who you are. This is about more than just the products or services that you sell, it’s also about what makes you different in the market.
Once you know why people should buy from you (as opposed to your competitors), you will find it much easier to decide on an approach with your marketing. This company statement is also a great piece of branding that you can put on your website, print marketing and social media pages.
Example Company Statement: “We are Australia’s largest and most trusted manufacturers of red underwear. We focus on quality, fashion, and are proud to keep our products ahead of current trends.”
There’s no point doing any marketing until you have some concrete goals written down. Sure, it would be great to “attract more customers”, and “make more sales”, but until you write down exactly how many customers, what you want to sell, and how much you want to sell, and when you want to achieve all of this, it’s all too easy to drift along in your business without really achieving anything.
Example Goals: “We would like to increase our customer base by 10 percent within one year, and have 50 percent of our previous customers purchase from us again during this period.”
Your audience is not “everyone.” Sure, there’s a chance that anyone could need your product or service, and you don’t want to alienate any particular group of people, but when it comes to your marketing, if you can focus on one or two specific audiences, your efforts will be much more effective. Think of your ideal customers – who are the most pleasant to deal with, and who is likely to spend the most?
Example Target Audience: “First-time mothers aged 20-40, living in Australian capital cities.”
Spend time researching your key competitors. Know what their strengths and weaknesses are, what marketing is working for them, and who their audiences are. Being aware of your competitors ensures that you work hard to make your products, services, and marketing at least as good, if not better.
How will your audience find out about your business, your products, and your services? You could have a presence on every social media channel, every advertising network, and spend hours per day creating content. But chances are, you don’t have the time or budget for this. Know what channels your target audience is likely to access most often, and focus your efforts on these.
There’s not much point in signing up for social media channels, a blog, and a variety of other platforms if you’re not going to share content on them. Businesses with no content give potential customers the impression that they’re either closed or very behind the times. Avoid giving this impression by planning ahead with appropriate content that you can schedule or post regularly. Ask yourself what kind of content your audience might relate to, what information you could share that is relevant to your business, and how you can use it to engage your audience and grow the relationship.
Remember – the point of your marketing is to attract an audience, convert them into leads, nurture them, and then hopefully provide an environment where they feel comfortable to buy from you.
Putting this process into a conversion funnel visually lays out the path a customer might take from first point of contact with you, through to the final sale. This is where all of your marketing efforts come together and actually make sense! Put into a diagram your key channels, the offers you are going to promote on those channels, the content you will share to nurture your audience, and the products and services you hope to sell. See the diagram below for an example of what a simple conversion funnel might look like.
An important part of marketing that is often neglected is measuring for results. You should know which marketing tactics are working to achieve your goals, how much they are costing you, and where to invest more time and money in the future. Take note of which metrics are likely to be important to your business and ensure that you look at them regularly. Use your metrics to adjust your marketing plan as you go.
Adapt it to Your Needs
Let’s be clear on something here… every business has different areas it needs to focus on. This marketing plan template is generic in nature, with a focus on digital marketing, so you may need to adapt it to your business’ requirements. Use it as a starting point and add or remove sections as you see fit. There are other articles out there with different approaches to a one-page marketing plan, so it might be worth looking at some alternatives.
Over to you now…
Do you have a marketing plan, and if so, do you actually use it? Would you be more likely to refer to a simplified one-page marketing plan that you can laminate and put on the wall in your office?
Simon Dell is a former agency owner and managing director, and is now a freelance consultant under his own brand SimonDell.com. His goal is to help develop and implement strategic digital and creative marketing plans for clients delivering measurable results and fantastic ROI. He also writes for Fairfax Media, MYOB's business portal and frequently speaks at events and conferences around Australia.