The success of your business depends on your marketing plan. This plan establishes your marketing strategy, and depending on the needs of your business, this plan will change over time. We’ve created a brief guide to get you started on a strategic marketing plan or to update an existing one.
Here are 10 steps to developing a strategic marketing plan:
1. Set goals and objectives. Before you create a marketing plan, you must have a purpose for it. This purpose is based on the long-term goals that guide all of your efforts. Once these long-term goals are established, break them down into specific objectives. Your objectives should be measurable over a period of time. For example, your goal may be to establish a social media marketing strategy. Meanwhile, an objective related to this goal could be to gain 100 followers on social media during the first month on the platform.
2. Analyze your situation. A Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis can give you a snapshot of the situations you face as you market your business. Your strengths are what make your business unique, while your weaknesses are what you can improve on. The economy, your competitors, technology, and other external factors contribute to your opportunities and threats. By analyzing your situation this way, you can improve your marketing strategies, while overcoming challenges that may or may not be in your control. Create customer personas to help figure out who your ideal customers. This will help with your analysis. To get you started, we’ve created a Customer Persona Checklist.
As part of our analysis, Pulse uses a template that outlines an ideal customer persona, the tone of our content, and the benefits of our services.
3. Map your messages. Your messaging is part of your marketing strategy and your brand. To create a message map, start by writing an XYZ statement or boilerplate that contains basic information about your business. Then, center other messaging related to your products, clients, and services around the XYZ statement. These messages can then be incorporated into your mission statement, press releases, and other marketing materials. To learn how to craft messaging that creates the best image of your business, check out our Content Writing Checklist.
4. Live out your mission. Your business has a set of values that guides it. Creating a mission statement outlines these values and ensures that the people who interact with your business are aware of them. Just be sure that this message reflects your brand honestly so you can actively demonstrate the values outlined in the mission statement through your interactions with clients. This statement and how it is carried out can make or break your clients’ trust.
Pulse takes pride in being your local, friendly marketing team, which is why it is our tagline. We demonstrate those values by being involved in our community.
5. Outline your tactics. A successful marketing strategy is made up of many different tactics, including both online and offline options. Your goals, target audience, and industry factor into this decision. For example, if your target audience is young, focusing on social media is more beneficial as this is primarily where this group consumes content. If your industry is product-based (for example, if you design jewelry), then using a more visual platform would better showcase your products. To be most effective, you have to choose which methods are right for your business. Once you’ve selected your tactics, list them in your marketing plan and determine how they’ll help you reach your goals.
6. Make a timeline. Your time is precious, especially when it comes to your marketing strategies. Based on the goals and objectives you’ve set for your business, create a timeline that will determine what will be completed and when. Remember to allow extra time for unexpected events that may delay some of your goals.
Using project management software can help you to create a timeline. At Pulse, we use Wrike, a program that enables us to schedule projects on a timeline, as seen below.
7. Mind your budget. Creating a budget for your marketing strategies can inform your efforts by determining what you can and can’t afford. Choosing the most cost-effective options for your business ensures the success of your overall marketing plan. This doesn’t have to limit your options. Paid advertising on social media and search engines allows you to choose the amount you can afford to pay, making them accessible to even the smallest of budgets.
8. Divide and conquer. Once you’ve created a timeline for the creation and distribution of your marketing materials, assign these tasks to members of your staff. If your business is small and doesn’t have the staff required to carry out your plan, you may need to consider hiring another person or a marketing agency. Ultimately, your staff’s size and qualifications will determine this for you.
9. Measure up. Measuring the effectiveness of your marketing strategies will inform your current plan and your future efforts. Your website, social media, and other marketing materials are sources of this information. To help you track this , there are many free online analytics tools available. Just be sure to only track data relevant to your business so these measurements are effective.
10. Stay current. Your marketing goals and needs will change over time. Ideally, you should revisit your marketing plan once a year and make adjustments as necessary. You should write your marketing plan with this growth in mind so you can measure it. In the meantime, follow industry news and trends that you can add to your own strategies.
Establishing a marketing plan keeps your business goals organized and focused, saving valuable time and money. Even if you already have a marketing plan, you can still reap these benefits by keeping it up-to-date.