It is no secret that the power lies with the buyer in today’s market. Therefore, you should have a high customer focus when designing your marketing plan. In this blog post, I give you clear recommendations on what you should include in your marketing plan and how you can make it more customer-centric.
What is a marketing plan?
A marketing plan is a structured set-up of marketing activities that are planned to be completed within a certain period of time.
Normally, a marketing plan extends over 12 months (preferably from January to January) and can be seen as part of the company’s marketing strategy (typically prepared for 3-5 years).
Why create a marketing plan?
By creating a marketing plan, you ensure that you implement the tactics that support the goals of the marketing strategy. Here, I assume that you have a well-prepared marketing strategy, so that you can develop a marketing plan in line with the company’s long-term focus.
How to make a marketing plan?
A marketing plan should include the following:
- Goals for the coming year
- Distribution of responsibilities
- Key message
- Strategic prioritization of activities
- Arrangements for measurement
- Target group
Before you start defining what the points above should contain, you should make an analysis of the activities you have carried out previously. What worked well, and what worked less well?
Record the successes so that they can be implemented as part of best practice for marketing planning in your organization. Also, take the time to look at which events and activities did not work, so that you can learn from them.
Have last year’s KPIs and profitability figures available. These provide a good basis for benchmarking of this year’s planning, and make the marketing plan more realistic and achievable.
The goals you set for the marketing plan must support the overall marketing strategy. They should be SMART goals that help you prioritize your marketing activities. The goals meet the SMART requirement in that they are:
- Specific: The goal must be concrete and unambiguous. It must communicate what is expected, why it is important, who is involved, where it will happen, and what restrictions exist.
- Measurable: The goal must have specific criteria for how progress and achievement are to be measured.
- Attainable: The goal must be realistic and achievable for your team.
- Relevant: The goal must be important to the organization and be linked to a core process.
- Timely: The goal must have a time indication for when it will be reached.
An example of a SMART goal:
By the end of the year, we will generate 15% more sales-qualified leads measured against last year.
When the year is over, it will be easy to see if the goal has been reached or not. It will also be easy to see if you are likely to reach the goal throughout the year so that you can implement measures along the way if necessary.
For each activity included in the marketing plan, an associated time indication should be included – a calendar, if you will. How detailed the calendar should be varies. For some, a specific from-to-date will work well, while others manage with a week-based approach:
– Example: The market activity will take place in weeks 8 and 9.
More project-oriented organizations will need to operate with a more adjustable time aspect:
– Example: The market activity will mainly take place in week eight. If circumstances so require, it can be moved two weeks before or two weeks later the scheduled date.
Who is responsible?
You should indicate who is responsible for carrying out each individual activity.
It is an advantage if the market budget is part of the marketing plan because it becomes easier to see what consequences it has when changes are made to either the plan or the budget.
Key messages should (according to Salesfusion) be included in your marketing plan. Especially in an inbound context, this is useful for planning.
What messages and themes will characterize this year’s campaigns and communication?
By defining key messages in the marketing plan, you can also plan what kind of content you will offer your target audience this year.
This is especially important for more comprehensive content offerings such as e-books and videos, which often take longer to create.
This part of the marketing plan can also go into detail about which channels and platforms are to be used to spread the content, as well as measures for search engine optimization.
A scheme for measurement
As mentioned earlier, the goals and marketing activities should always be measurable (compare the M in SMART goals).
A measurement parameter, more specifically a KPI (key performance indicator) should be specified for each activity in the marketing plan.
A KPI tells how the market activity works. Without quantifiable target figures, it will be difficult to measure the success and profitability (ROI) of market measures.
Strategic priorities of activities
Market planning is not just about brainstorming about what activities we can or should implement.
Like the budget, it is about prioritizing what is most important for the company’s sales and growth.
Typically, the following questions will be asked to determine whether market activity should be given priority:
- Does the activity support the overall marketing strategy?
- If yes to point. 1: Does this activity help us reach this year’s goal?
- If yes to point. 2: Do we have sufficient information or experience to think something about the effect of this activity?
- If yes to point. 3: Does the assessment indicate that we should find a place for this activity in this year’s marketing plan, and what other planned activities will it possibly be at the expense of?
Target group – define personas
A persona is a semi-fictional character that represents an interested or potential customer of the business.
If you have a clear picture of the organization’s personas, it will be easier to create and target the marketing measures to those you want to reach.
Which activities are intended for which target group (personas) should therefore be stated in the marketing plan.
The use of personas personalizes the communication in your marketing initiatives, and helps you develop activities based on the needs of (potential) customers.
The term “customer journey” often refers to the complete life cycle before, during and after a purchase or customer relationship. I define this differently. Every single situation where the customer interacts with you is a customer journey.
At the micro level, your customers can make dozens of customer journeys. Together, they make up a sum of experiences that form the overall impression the customer has of your company.
One negative experience can be enough to make you lose a sale, get a dissatisfied customer or a bad review.
In the same way, one positive experience can create satisfied and loyal customers, who recommend you to their friends and colleagues or give you praise in digital channels.
It is therefore important to keep the “customer journey” in mind when creating a marketing plan.
As digital tools have become an increasingly important part of marketing, it has become more difficult to plan in detail what to do when. In particular, digital advertising will develop in step with ongoing processes.
For example, it will certainly turn out that one advertising message resonates better than another and you will therefore turn your advertising more in the same direction.
So make sure you have room in your schedule to adjust your course as you learn more about what works.
Distinguish between strategy and tactics
Strategy and tactics tend to be mixed up and there can easily be ambiguity about what is what. In short, we can say that strategy describes the goal and how to get there, while tactics describe specific activities to be carried out along the way.
Strategy – tells what long-term goals the organization has and how to achieve them. The strategy shows you which way you need to go to reach your corporate mission.
Tactics – is the roadmap that refers to specific activities and is typically smaller steps within a limited period of time. A tactic usually consists of a specific plan, method and resources involved, and is about what tasks you need to complete in order to achieve your marketing goals.