What is your marketing plan?
Driven by your strategy, your marketing plan is the execution. It’s the description of the tactical marketing efforts that will help you achieve your goals.
Now you have pinned down your marketing strategy (see Part 1), you understand your target audience and their pain points and challenges, you’ve researched the competitor landscape and you’ve defined your value proposition, you can now move onto the What, Why and Where.
If you’ve never created a marketing plan before, it doesn’t need to be complex, but should include the following area:
Your marketing goals and objectives
A timeline with key milestones and responsibilities
Your marketing channels and tactics
A description of your content pillars, your content plan and what assets need to be created
The budget broken down by channel and campaign
How you are going to track & measure the results for each channel & campaign
1. Define your marketing goals and objectives:
You’ve defined your overall goals in your marketing strategy, but let’s now break them down. To make it easy, think about what you want to achieve with your hard work. Your goals need to be tangible, measurable goals that will stretch you, but are still achievable.
2. Create your timeline with key milestones and responsibilities:
The next step is to map out the timeline - when does each goal and objective need to happen by? What are the key milestones for each goal? How are you going to achieve them? Creating a timeline that gives you a single view of all goals, projects, tasks, product launches etc. with deadlines and responsibilities, will keep you accountable and keep you (and your team if you have one) organised. At the start of the year, you might map out a timeline for 12 months, but it needs to be agile and flexible so review it every three months, check progress and update accordingly.
3. Decide on your marketing channels and tactics
Marketing channels and tactics are the different platforms and tools you use to reach your target audience. Not all marketing channels are equal, and some are better at achieving certain goals than others. By understanding your goals, you can choose the channels that will maximise the success of your marketing efforts, and help you reach your target audience in the best way and stay connected with them throughout the customer journey. For creators, Social Media Marketing is going to be the main channel but leveraging a single marketing channel with one strategy no longer works, so other marketing activities to consider include email marketing, podcasts, events, influencer marketing, website/blogs, paid advertising, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) or retargeting.
3.a. How to choose your marketing channels
Be selective. There are a huge number of marketing channels and tactics to choose from and leveraging several channels will help you reach and nurture your audience in different ways but, realistically, it’s likely you have budget and resource limitations, so how do you decide?
Different channels provide different experiences so keep your ideal customer, and their favoured channels, in mind.
When choosing your marketing activities, look at what you did over the past 12/24months. Dial up what works, ditch what doesn’t and look for where the gaps are. Where does your audience frequent that you don’t?
Don’t be afraid to reach out to your community and ask them their preferred channels. The more insight you have into the behaviours of your audience, the more effective your marketing plan will be.
It’s also worth noting that these activities need continuous testing and optimising to ensure you get the results you want, and your goals met. If you’re not getting the outcome you hoped for, change tack and try again.
4. Define your content pillars, write your content plan and create your assets.
Content pillars (or content buckets) are the 4-6 themes that are closely aligned to your brand and topics that will resonate with your target audience. Clearly defined content pillars will help you stay consistent, create content relevant to your niche and serve as inspiration when it comes to creating content. All in all, content pillars will make your life a whole lot easier and make your marketing efforts far more strategic. Whilst themes and topics will remain the same, you're likely to choose different pillars for different channels.
As a fitness trainer your pillars might look something like this:
Tutorials & fitness tips
4.a. Creating your content calendar
Once you’ve decided on your content pillars and what the content for each pillar will look like, you can start mapping out your content calendar. A content calendar is a documented schedule of when and where you plan to publish upcoming content. It helps you to stay organised, plan content in advance, track the progress of your content creation, keep a log of topics and assets already created, identify any gaps, and track progress against your goals.
4.b. Creating your assets
The final step in this stage of the marketing plan is creating the assets – your content calendar will outline what creative assets are required, by when and who is responsible for creating them. If you outsource graphic design for example, make life easier for yourself by having a ready-made briefing template. This will ensure the agency receives all the information they need, along with creative assets, in one go. This prevents errors being made and time wasted by going back and forth, and saving you money if you’re paying by the hour.
5. Setting your budget
Spending money on marketing is daunting, particularly if the business is just you, or you operate with a very small team, but don’t let having a tight budget stop you. Before you start implementing any of your marketing tactics you need to have a clear idea how much money you have to spend on marketing over the course of the year. You need to be realistic though; if one of your tactics includes paid advertising on Instagram, but you don’t have a budget to do it, it’s going to be difficult to reach your goals. Work out what’s required for each marketing activity and set a budget against it – beware of hidden costs and take into account costs such as outsourcing, freelancer costs, hiring equipment, booking studio space to film and software licence costs. Every cost needs to be accounted for, managed, and return on investment (ROI) measured. Monitor and measure at every stage and if you not seeing a positive return against budget spent, stop and try another tactic. With marketing, you have to be prepared to test and learn. Not everything will work, and some things will work better than others.
6. Tracking & measuring the results for each channel & campaign
It’s vital you continually evaluate the performance of your marketing efforts to understand what’s working, what’s not, how people are finding you, what makes them buy, why they don’t etc. You can then work out what’s effective and what adjustments need to be made to achieve the desired results. The metrics you track will ultimately depend on your goals and what your success factors are, but could include Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as:
You need to be strategic about your marketing plan, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Keep it simple, monitor and measure all your marketing efforts, make adjustments where necessary, stop the activities that don’t work, do more of what does and be prepared to try something new.
Missed Part 1: Read How to Create a Fool-proof Marketing Strategy