Modern technology has certainly changed marketing planning. Whether via digital or other channels, success starts with analysis and thoughtful planning. Here are six key components of a marketing plan in the age of technology.
The first step in creating your marketing plan is conducting a few analyses. Start with a look at your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, in comparison with your competitors -- or a SWOT analysis. To conduct a SWOT, inventory internal strengths and weaknesses of your organization and then look at external opportunities and threats that could affect your organization, based on market and environment.
While you’re analyzing, also examine political, economic, sociocultural, technological, natural, and demographic -- a PESTND analysis -- to get a firm understanding of the environment in which your business operates.
Lastly, analyze your competition and define your company’s unique value that can make you stand out. It is vital to identify and articulate what sets you apart, whether its price, features, options, customer service or technology.
Make sure all of your analyses answer the key question: “Who are we as an organization?” Staying true to your company’s culture and vision is vital to creating a successful marketing plan.
That last analysis above should help you hone in on this step. Understand the features and benefits your services or products offer and then pinpoint the groups of customers to whom those features and benefits appeal. Make sure to consider variables such as gender, age, geography, education, area average income and lifestyle when identifying your target market. And don’t leave out other businesses that could need or want your products or services, too.
Set goals, but make sure they’re quantifiable, such as increasing new customers by 5 percent or selling 15 percent more product than last year. Don’t be vague, you can’t measure success with goals such as increase sales or build our customer base. And make sure you have timeframes tied to your goals, so you can check in periodically and track your progress.
Goals should be both big-picture and short-term and tied to clear objectives. They also should include plans on how sales and marketing will work together to achieve them.
Do you know which strategies you want to use in your marketing plan? Which you want to avoid? Make sure you do and that they are clearly outlined.
Networking via local business groups or speaking to local groups and clubs or at industry events
Direct marketing (sales letters, brochures, flyers)
Advertising (print media, directories)
Writing articles or blogs to establish yourself or your company as an expert. Then make sure you post them on your website and share them across social media channels.
Publicity and press releases
Creating an email list and sending informative updates on a regular basis.
Analyzing and setting goals is great, and if they existed in a vacuum what a wonderful world it would be. But the truth is, every company has a budget, and so does every marketing plan. Determine your budget and then look at what services you can afford to outsource and what you can do in-house. But don’t compromise on quality to save a few dollars. A bad email campaign can cost you more than hiring a company to manage one for you.
When creating the budget, make sure you divide it into spending for traditional and digital marketing as well as for variable expenses. Determine which percentage of your budget should go to each based on factors such as previous success and failure, industry trends and competition. And don’t forget to include money for projects already in progress or planned when divvying up your budget.
Just like your business plan, your marketing plan requires periodic revisiting to ensure you’re adapting to changing market conditions as well as revising your goals to meet them. Always be reviewing your marketing plan and comparing it with results, then take actions to correct what’s not working.