No one has ever said that running a business is easy! With so much to do, creating a marketing plan is often pushed to the backburner. But once you’ve been in business for a while, you realize that a strong marketing plan makes your day-to-day operations run more smoothly. Instead of taking a reactive approach and trying to recover from periods of slow sales, you shift to a proactive focus and plan ahead, carefully mapping ideas and campaigns for each part of the year. This is what stops the cycle of feast and famine and separates the long-term successful business from those who consistently struggle and stress each month.
Ready to get proactive with your marketing? We’ll show you how to create a solid marketing plan in 5 simple steps.
Step 1: Set Measurable Goals
The most important step of creating your marketing plan is setting your goals. After all, if you don’t know what you want to achieve, how are you going to get there?
Of course, everyone wants “more sales,” but you’re going to have to get more exact with your goals if you want to meet your target. Set yourself up for success by creating S.M.A.R.T goals, which stands for specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and targeted.
Instead of saying, “We want more customers this year,” ask yourself how many new customers you want and by which date you want to reach that number. Then, make sure you have a way to track this information.
Step 2: Review What’s Worked and Not Worked in the Past
Okay, now that you have your goals, you have to figure out how to accomplish them. Before you jump onto the latest marketing craze or start throwing money into Instagram ads, take time to go through your marketing history and review what worked well in the past. Was anything a total flop?
Take notes about what resonates with your customers, and don’t be afraid to check out your competition as well. If they ran a memorable campaign, what can you learn from it? What did they do that made you cringe? Think about the specifics, and make a list of dos and don’ts based on this research.
Step 3: Create Your Marketing Plan & Keep It Simple
You’ve done your research and set your goals, and now it’s time to create your marketing plan. Remember, you can’t do everything at once, so if you are starting new marketing initiatives be intentional to not try to overwhelm yourself with several new tactics at once. For most businesses, it’s best to integrate them one at a time to be able to do them successfully or make sure you are partnering with a team that knows what they are doing.
Now think about the goals you want to accomplish. Depending on the size of your goals or the timeline, you may want to consider breaking them down into smaller goals that you can complete on a quarterly or monthly basis. Either take out a piece of paper, a calendar, or start a digital document and have a section for each month. Keep in mind specific holidays and events. Even if they don’t seem relevant to your business, think about how you could play with them to pique your audience’s interest.
Here’s an example for a Valentine’s Day promo a plumber might use—
There’s Nothing Romantic About A Clogged Toilet – Save 10% On Services All This Week!
Next, think about the strategies and tactics you want to implement. As mentioned previously, we recommend not taking on too much at one time, unless you have the people and the skillset to make your strategies successful! If you’ve never run Google Ads before, as an example, you will want to give yourself at least 3 months to test and improve the campaigns. You may only want to test a new strategy each quarter to give yourself the ability to dedicate the time to test, improve, and measure results.
Even if you don’t have time to create your entire plan for the year, go ahead and schedule the events and seasons you want to focus on and make sure you free up time to get to work.
Remember, you need to set aside time in your schedule for checking in, readjusting your plan, and getting ready for the next steps in your marketing year. If you don’t set this time aside now, you may find yourself too busy to stop and plan for the next phases of your marketing calendar.
Step 4: Commit to the Plan
Remember when you were a kid playing board games? You had to build up perseverance to get through the game. It was so tempting in those first ten minutes to quit the game and storm away because some other kid appeared to be beating you.
If you quit the game, you’ll never know how it would have turned out. Sure, some of them you ended up losing, but there were also plenty of games that you ended up winning, even though it didn’t seem possible at first. You started the game, and you committed to it.
It’s the same in marketing. You might not see results right away. In fact, you likely won’t. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t coming. It takes time to find out whether a plan is working or not, and this is often due to elements outside of your control.
On the same note, stick to your calendar. You took the time to be proactive, so enjoy the fruits of your efforts by following through and seeing what happens. If you don’t stick to the plan, you’ll be stuck in the reactive phase, and you’ll have less data to compare at the end of the year.
Step 5: Measure Results
Once you’ve gone through all the steps of preparing and implementing your plan, it’s time to measure your results. But how do you accomplish that? You can look at sales around certain promotions or marketing campaigns, but that won’t show what led your customers to your door, and whether their arrival was related to your marketing or not.
The best way to measure results is to track how people are finding you, and what their behavior looks like when they get to your website. You can look at your specific ads and social media posts to see how they performed. You can even find out what times of day people are most likely to interact with your posts. But the best way to analyze your results is to work with a company that handles website and marketing.
At Eviva Media, we can help you look at the data from before and after, set goals, and analyze how you’re doing. Want to learn more? Schedule a free call and let’s make sure you have a plan to achieve your goals!