Elements of a Marketing Plan

Every organisation would love to enjoy the success of a viral marketing campaign such as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, but these types of campaigns intentionally follow a plan that was laid out in advance. Likewise, think of your marketing plan as a roadmap that’s going to guide you to a chosen destination.

As with any journey, you begin with your destination in mind, and then start by charting your route from your starting point.  There is no sense in beginning unless you know where you want to finish.
Before you start to create a marketing plan, put your communications into perspective. Frame your perspective on your overall communications strategy with a simple statement.

For example:
• Our goal is increasing sales. Our marketing communications will relay our USPs
• Our goal is fundraising. Our marketing communications are donor communications.
• Our goal is member services. Our marketing communications are intended to nurture member engagement.
• Our goal is recruitment. Our marketing communications help manage volunteer experience.
• Our goal is trust. Our marketing communications will contribute to building trust between us and our constituents.
• How Do You Attract, Inform, Inspire, and Engage Your Intended Audience?

Imagine that your goal is more than marketing. Instead, imagine that your goal is to build relationships through engagement, ultimately arriving at engagement. Marketing becomes a means to that end.

Marketing is too often a one-way, short-term, transactional exercise; relationships are built through conversations and interactions to engage your audience. Marketing may tend to drive one-time interaction; relationship-building encourages long-term engagement. Marketing has the potential to be superficial; engaging your intended audience over the long run helps to develop deep affinity and meaningful relationships.

Marketing is just one component of your comprehensive communications strategy. The most successful organisations focus on nurturing relationships; employing a marketing plan and applying it to specific campaigns helps you attract, inform, inspire, and engage potential customers.
It is likely that as you implement your plan, you will find what you consider to be “marketing” will actually decrease, while your relationship-building will increase.

But….how Much Will my marketing Cost?
The “cost” of any marketing plan must be measured in personnel time, creative investment, print, online and media expenses. How much will vary depending on the extent of your marketing plan.  Do not forget to consider the value of your investment as you evaluate your ROI (return on investment) and ROE (return on engagement) as marketing is very much an investment.

Whatever you decide and whatever your marketing objectives, one option could be that before you get overwhelmed with creating a comprehensive marketing plan for your organisation, consider the establishment of micro-plans that help you focus on specific goals to achieve. These micro-plans can be campaign-specific or audience-specific; together they will form a complete marketing plan.

Hope this helps.

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I am a business owner and need to do some marketing

The majority of people who read the articles in our marketing help area are “professionals” who might not necessarily be experts in marketing or selling so it is up to us to try and provide direction in how they can improve their knowledge and/or skill set to help them reach their marketing goals. Marketing for Small Businesses

In some (larger) organisations, there might be a sales person or a BDM as well as a marketing manager, but in the SME world, it is quite common that all these vital elements are grouped together and performed by the owner. If this is the case, there is always a danger that the whole process of marketing slips down the list settling behind IT or the accounts function!

In the case where you are doing the sales and marketing, a lot of the skills and techniques required have been outlined in this blog. However, whether it’s you or you are motivating others to take ownership of marketing, try and see the activity in the context of a marketing plan. Remember marketing is not about getting a brochure done or designing and building a new website. In fact, the process of marketing should include most if not all of the below:

Understanding your market – what am I offering to who and why?
Building your brand and proposition – what is my USP and what does it look like?
Planning your marketing strategy – what activity and/or platforms am I using to get my message across?
Internal marketing – does everyone in the company know what marketing activity we are undertaking and why?
Manage existing clients – making sure you have quality deliverables that have been outlined and fully costed.
Winning new business – test initiatives, but aim to create a discipline of running multiple activities each month.

A big feature of marketing is laying the foundations. You have to set out your stall correctly so that you’re appealing to the right people. Know your customer, but also, do you know if your market has any sub sectors within it which you can target which might add another string to your bow? Try not to get drawn into delivering knee-jerk, bulk newsletters to just tick a box. The words “so what” are used frequently in the briefing process by Bath Marketing Consultancy!

Going forwards, what Bath Marketing Consultancy has always advocated is that having a dedicated marketing function can make the difference between a business success and a business failure so allocate time and or budget to getting it right at the start.

Time is precious so don’t ask for too much of it

After nearly 300 articles I thought it was worth clarifying something. Basically, throughout a number of the articles I write I make references to my own experiences within the marketing profession. This is where I tried and tested the theories and put into practice a lot of the marketing advice and deliverables I now give to clients. This means that the advice and help I write about comes mainly from my own practical experiences; a sort of “How to…..” area on this website designed for you the reader to interpret and implement should you so wish.

Anyway, I digress. What I wanted to share with you in this article was my findings about standing out in your market.

The more research I have done in my career, the more I have realised that professional services are all very similar when it comes to winning business. You may work in the research industry, be an accountant, an architect whatever, the bottom line is that we all have intangible services to offer to other professionals.

The intangibles are primarily information and knowledge and too often these remain hidden assets! For you to attract new business, this must be changed – we must make our target audience aware of our knowledge base as this in turn means that the “suspects” we are after move to becoming “prospects” and then clients.

Competition in all markets is increasing and it’s up to you to grab the attention; to differentiate yourself. You have to make the right noise at the right time to the right people and this is where effective marketing comes to the fore.

Some of the fellow professionals and contacts I talk to tell me that some of the offers made to them are very hard to understand so make your message simple to understand. Don’t get caught by the “lots of white space” design sometimes proposed by graphic designers. Don’t try to be too clever or have a meaning that is too cryptic. Time is a very precious commodity in business so don’t ask for too much time from the people you want to target.

So much is out there when it comes to furthering your skills or learning how to make your presence known to potential clients so try and be personable, professional and use simple skills in preparation, prospection and presentation and to build all this around a well thought through marketing plan.

And this is where Bath Marketing Consultancy can help………..

 

Put together a communications plan

When thinking about marketing I would advise that, wherever possible, you try and construct a holistic communications plan that sets out realistic objectives and a strategy to achieve them. There will always be external influences when it comes to achieving objectives so keep an eye on any awareness and/or public barriers that may exist such as the economic climate, new competition Marketing Planning entering the market or maybe shifts in consumer trends.

If your organisation is of a certain size, it is essential that your strategy is presented internally so that everyone is in agreement with the plan and knows what the aims are. You’d be surprised how many times we’ve worked with multi site businesses where marketing is directed from a single office and is not passed on internally! After all, every employee has the ability to contribute to the success of the organisation and can play a part in the actual brand.

If, for any reason, there is a degree of uncertainty or any disagreement about the plan or existing perceptions of your company, then maybe look at implementing some sort of research among existing clients as well as an audit with the primary media to gauge levels of awareness and attitudes to the company.

The key to a successful marketing strategy is to set realistic goals and then communicate them and there is no shame in asking for specialist help in this area. I am the first to admit that my company is not a specialist when it comes to IT or accounting so I buy in help . In marketing, whether you are an owner/manager, the MD of a large multi national or head of a marketing department, sometimes an external and unbiased view of where you stand and where you want to be can make the difference as to ultimately whether things the business succeeds or fails.

Not only that, but no company wants to head up a certain path having made a quick decision on its future. This type of approach can be incredibly costly and hard to undo if you get it wrong. Investing in help at the start of the financial year or maybe after a change in trends will likely yield the biggest return.

Marketing for New Business

The process of marketing should involve much more than selling alone. Marketing should be planned wherever possible and a marketing plan should be well thought through, justified, communicated internally and of course, priced up.

In my opinion, without an organisation committing to marketing, it is likely that both the decision makers within the company and the company itself will lose motivation. No organisation can rely solely on word of mouth, it needs a plan.

With a marketing plan in place, it should receive adequate resources of time and money and it will be positioned as an investment rather than seen as a cost which wont be given the appropriate “value.”

Marketing Advice

Marketing is also not a quick fix or a decision made as a result of business slowing down. Yes, your company has a lot to gain from a possible short term fix, but in fact “selling” takes time to show results and a long term commitment is in your own interests. To me marketing therefore, should be a long term effort that is a process rather than an event. Marketing has a start, a middle, but no end.

There are a number of decisions to make when it comes to the appointment of the person (or people) who deliver the marketing activity, but we see 2 main options –

The company employs an in house marketing person (marketing employee)
or marketing is outsourced to a specialist marketing company

When considering option 1, if your role within the company is one of marketing, it is likely that it is not an easy role to play as you are unlikely to be the professional service provider nor a fee generator so you may well be perceived as an outsider and an overhead………no to mention a possible nuisance and a hard taskmaster in your attempts to turn unwilling participants into people who embrace the marketing efforts of the company! Don’t panic if you encounter resistance. You are the centre of excellence when it comes to marketing and you must fight back and justify your position!

If option 2 is the route your organisation decides to go down, there are plenty of marketing companies around, but be careful to do your homework. Speak to a number of companies. Do due diligence on each. You will also need to make sure that both you and the marketing company agree and sign up to the broad goals expounded in the eventual plan…….which includes the cost and fees!

Either way, remember marketing is not just about getting a brochure done! The process should include areas like –

Having the tools of the trade (logo, stationery, website, sales piece etc)
Understanding the market you’re operating in – speak to existing clients, run a SWOT…
Building your own brand – What sets you apart from the competition? Are you consistent in your messaging?
Planning – How does marketing fit into the business plan? Who is doing what and why?
Existing clients – Quality deliverables through quality processes
Marketing internally and externally

A large feature in marketing speak is “focus.” Do you know where you stand in relation to the competition? What is your market share? Does every stakeholder or shareholder buy into the marketing plan?

Lots of questions here so I hope your grey cells are working overtime!

What are you aiming for with your marketing?

One of the most important outcomes of your marketing activity should be prospection; taking the actions required to achieve the end result of getting yourself in front of the intended prospect. By doing this you are basically speaking to someone face to face; one professional talking to another, and this allows you to get your message across in a unadulterated way with the undivided attention of the relevant buyer.

But gaining the appointment can be a fearsome prospect and requires cunning, confidence and the correct approach!

So how do achieve this necessary evil? The answer is effective marketing. Effective marketing of your company brand. Effective marketing of yourself.

In a meeting earlier today in Yeovil, we discussed how today’s consumer is a very savvy entity. They are people who are ofay with the internet. They mix with people who have similar purchasing patterns and ultimately they are much more aware of the power they have in terms of the decision whether to “buy” from you or your business.

Today’s potential customer therefore, needs to know your brand. They need to know how you differentiate your products and services from the multiple competitors out there and they also need to know that you offer an accessible and affordable solution to their problem.

To achieve the above in professional services, a company needs to build its marketing from the ground up. A company needs to invest in how it markets itself and the message it is giving.

Have a read of the below. Some of the questions might seem obvious, but have you really been thorough in your approach and have you really done this?

What does your logo say about you? Do people “get it” when they look at it?
Is your identity consistent across everything you do?
Is your website easy to navigate around? Does it stand up to the 5 second rule?
Are the right people on your website? Is there an obvious call to action?
What benefits are you offering people? Are they clear?
Is there a place for people to sign up to something so you can keep in touch with them when they’re ready to buy?
Do you have a “clean” database of prospects?
Do you use telephone canvassing?
Are you talking to the wrong person? Always aim high – the CEO or MD.
Do you know what your competition does with its marketing? How are you different?
How do you use the media? Do you let them design one-off adverts at a high cost or is there a plan of action?
Where do you source your leads?
Do you know if there are seasonal fluctuations with your prospects?
Are you active in social media? (Are you target market even using social media?!)
Do you use email marketing?
Are you constantly testing new marketing initiatives?
Have you got a clear plan of attack in terms of your marketing?

…..have you talked to a professional??! I know it might seem tempting, but talking to lots of your friends and/or asking family members about your logo or your website is not something that will help!

By doing the above, you will stand yourself in much better stead to getting that meeting. Your message will be the correct one, seen by the right person at the right time in the right place.

Social Media

While social media may seem overwhelming, there are now many experienced people who can get your accounts set up quickly for very little money. At a minimum, you should decide on a username that you can use consistently across all social networks. Check to ensure the username you are considering is available on all the major sites before you get started. You can check them all at once for free using Knowem.com Social Media

You do not have to be active on every social network, but you do want to claim your username, upload an image, enter a short bio and link it to your site. These are valuable links easily obtained, so do not neglect them.  If you aren’t going to be active on a site now, include where you can be found in your bios.

There is a lot to doing social media well. Consider paying someone else to set up your accounts and teach you to use them. It doesn’t have to be costly and it will save you a ton of time and frustration.

The main thing to remember is not to always be selling or broadcasting about yourself on social media. What you want to do is identify where your target audience is already active and then socialize with them.

As you create relationships they will lead to business!