Want to start 2022 off on the right foot?
According to HubSpot, companies that prioritize marketing efforts are 13x more likely to see a positive return on investment.
It’s essential to create a plan for how your business will survive long term, and how multiple strategies will work alongside each other so you can optimize your time and not get overwhelmed.
There are many different elements to consider when making a marketing plan, but at the very least, you need to identify:
WHAT you are selling
WHERE you are selling it
WHO you are selling to
WHY they would be interested in it – what is the problem you’re solving with your product or service?
This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to include all four of these key elements in their marketing plan, or don’t get specific enough to be effective.
For example, it’s not enough to know the basic demographic characteristics of who you’re selling to, like gender and age. While this is a good place to start, every customer is different, and it’s important to to recognise the many different needs or reasons someone might have for buying your product or service.
So how do you get more specific with your marketing plan?
By segmenting your audience.
Audience segments are subgroups within your target audience whose members share interests or characteristics.
A classic way of identifying these subgroups is with a ‘buyer persona’, a description or portrait that embodies your ideal customer.
This persona will have a name and a profile containing specific details about them, including basics like their age, gender and location. The persona should also include details about their life, personality, goals and interests.
An example of a buyer persona made for an online baking app can be seen here:
This persona can now be treated like a real customer. You can tailor your marketing material towards that individual, giving your content a specific and precise target, and making it more valuable and memorable for real audience members who see it.
You can make your own buyer persona template for free here.
» Or use our Marketing Planning Toolkit, which includes a persona tool with some key ‘psychic’-graphic questions that will help you get inside the head of your ideal customer, to understand what motivates them.
And remember, you don’t just have to stick to just one persona.
As buyer personas are specific to only one type of customer, it’s a good idea to create different personas for different marketing projects or different products and services.
Identifying and targeting different people in your general audience in this way increases the value and effectiveness of your marketing by showing you understand your customers. They become more likely to connect with you on an emotional level and in marketing terms, it doesn’t get more powerful than that.
Are you inbound or outbound?
Before moving any further in the process, it’s useful to decide whether you’ll focus on inbound or outbound marketing techniques, or how you might balance the two.
Inbound marketing refers to techniques that focus on building a meaningful and consistent relationship with a prospect. Instead of trying to sell to them straight away, inbound marketing aims to build awareness and engagement with the customer at every stage of the sales process, to make them feel connected to your business.
This type of marketing has gained popularity with the development of modern digital marketing technology.
It allows marketers to be more consistent and personalised in how they communicate with prospective customers, by recognising where they are in their buying journey: do they know they have a problem and are researching the market; are they aware of the solutions available to them; or are they specifically interested in your solution?
Examples of inbound marketing techniques are social media posts, blogs, emails and chatbots on websites.
Outbound marketing commonly refers to messages about your product or service that are more directly focused on sales or brand awareness than relationship building.
Examples of outbound campaigns could include telemarketing, cold emails, direct mail or print advertising, though outbound has more to do with the nature of your relationship with the target audience than the specific channels you use.
Whilst there is a place for both inbound and outbound marketing, outbound strategies on their own can prove less effective in the context of a rapidly changing digital marketplace.
People expect more from companies now in terms of personalisation, customer service and engagement. Additionally, people have more influence and control over what they do and don’t want to experience day to day, so trying to cold call or reach out to customers who don’t know who you are can be a waste of time if it’s not part of an integrated plan.
You can read more about the advantages of inbound over outbound marketing here.
Perfecting inbound strategies
Now you’ve defined who you’re aiming at, it’s time to start putting marketing strategies into place to target them!
A good marketing strategy aims to do 4 things to engage your audience:
Attract – Gain awareness and appeal to your prospective customers. The purpose of this stage is to just to get people to notice you and your product or service, and to start creating that all-important relationship with them.
Engage – Providing content and calls to action that customers will respond to in ways that could range from commenting on a social media post or joining your mailing list to investing in your product or service.
Delight – Provide excellent customer service that makes them feel supported. This encourages loyalty and a desire to support your business further, or recommend it to others. Delighting customers also increases the chance of them providing a positive review, arguably one of the most valuable and trustworthy pieces of marketing your business can offer.
Retain – According to Altfield, the likelihood of a customer buying again from you is between 60-70%, compared to 5-20% for someone new buying from you. So creating marketing strategies to keep existing customers interested in your products or services is even more important than the common promotions-based acquisition marketing campaigns that most marketers mistakenly prioritise.
Now it’s time to make a plan
There are two great frameworks you can use to start planning your marketing strategy, recommended by many marketers.
SMART goals and the SOSTAC model are both proven and effective ways to plan your marketing campaigns effectively.
SOSTAC is a planning technique that gives you a more general idea of where you want the business to go and begin to make plans based on these aims.
SOSTAC stands for:
Situation Analysis – Where is your business now? Who are your competitors? Are you positioning your business in a unique gap in the market?
Objectives – Where is your business going? What do you want to achieve with the marketing campaigns you want to create?
Strategy – How do you get there?
Tactics – What exact methods/tactics are you going to use? Why? What is the most effective way to achieve your objectives and reach your audience?
Action – The details of these tactics.
Control – How are you going to monitor performance?
To learn more about SOSTAC, you can watch a video by the creator of this model explain it in more detail here.
Start making your own SOSTAC plan with our Marketing Planning Toolkit. Click here to get your free copy.
SMART goals are slightly more specific than SOSTAC and can help you specify your SOSTAC plan further.
While SOSTAC may be used to look at broader campaigns for the year, SMART goals can be used to set smaller goals on a more regular basis for shorter projects.
SMART goals define specific and measurable elements within your general aims to help refine what you need to achieve and exactly how you can achieve it. This is a great way to start planning your campaigns for the year, or simply to help focus on one objective in the near future.
SMART stands for:
Specific – What is it you specifically want to achieve? For example, ‘I want to increase my website traffic by 20%’
Measurable – How will this be measured? Campaigns need specific ways to track and record their data/results otherwise how will you know if they’ve succeeded.
Attainable – Make sure it’s possible to do and you’re capable of doing it.
Relevant – How will this goal contribute to your overall aims?
Time-bound – When does this need to be done by? Deadlines help motivate and move the project forward and tend to make it more likely to happen.
A video further explaining SMART goals can be found here:
So what are you waiting for?
Customers aren’t going to find you by chance. As with everything in life, the most successful people always have research and planning on their side.
Hopefully you found this useful in inspiring you to get started with your marketing plans.
But actually taking action is what really matters.