Doing a bunch of marketing and feeling like you’re not getting anywhere? It could well be because you don’t have a marketing plan! Not sure what a marketing plan is? Let us help you out here…
The basics of a marketing plan
A marketing plan, also referred to as a marketing communications plan, or a ‘marcom plan’ is a document outlining who you are as a brand or business, what you have to market in terms of product and service lines, and most importantly how you will market your business to your target markets and customer segments. It defines items such as what your marketing objectives are, who your target audiences are , situation analysis, market research, positioning in the market, current and required marketing assets, current and proposed marketing activities and more.
In short, a marketing plan provides you with information on where your business is starting from when it comes to marketing, where you want to go, and how your marketing is going to get there. Knowing what you want to do with your marketing in terms of your marketing goals or objectives is one thing, but knowing how to reach those goals is probably the most important part when it comes to a marketing plan. They say something which isn’t written is just a dream, and something which is written is a goal which is more likely to come true. And working with professionals (like us of course!) to create a marketing plan with a bunch of marketing smarts such as research and years of marketing knowledge weaved into your plan can ensure you have the best chance at being successful.
What does a marketing plan look like and what is usually included in a marketing plan?
A marketing plan can be as short as a one page high level document, or in most cases (and what we offer) is a longer form document which can be portrait or landscape in format, and usually prepared in a Google Doc or Microsoft Word OR Google Slides or Microsoft Powerpoint. Key is that a marketing plan is relevant, useful and actionable and not just another nice document that sits in the files gathering virtual dust. What style of marketing plan you need will often depend on a few characteristics of the brand or business we are marketing such as:
- How long the business has been in existence i.e. is this a marketing plan for a startup or established business? For example some startups we work with need a marketing plan in a set format to go and raise funding, get bank loans, or help them get some much needed focus in their early days. Businesses which have been in business for a while may need something brief or longer, depending on the next few points below….
- Have the business ever prepared a marketing plan before and is there something existing to work with or is this the first time they have prepared such a document?
- How many service or product lines the business wishes to market and over what geography? For instance a local physiotherapy may only have one service (physiotherapy) and a defined catchment of people it can service i.e. +15km from its location. Whereas a national online eCommerce business may have multiple product lines and products, so we need to consider the priorities certain products will be marketed to, and whether different product lines have different target audiences.
- Size of the business – Generally speaking smaller organisations only require a smaller marketing plan (our Starter package is a good place to start), whereas larger organisations generally have an appetite and a need for more in depth in recommendations, and a fair bit of consultation is usually required to gather the information from the necessary stakeholders to prepare a robust and well thought out marketing plan (as opposed to speaking with one founder or manager for a smaller organisation).
So where do we start when creating a marketing plan?
To create a marketing plan, we always start with getting to know you first. We will book a meeting with you and any other key stakeholders and ask a bunch of questions including the history of the business, why you are in business, what your approach has been to marketing to date and get a feel for your objectives. We will do some work on defining your target audiences.
Post the initial chat we may conduct some market research, and we have a range of tools and mechanisms we can use to do this – IBIS World reports, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Google Surveys, Survey Monkey. chatbots, focus groups, one on ones with your team or clients and more. The combination of tools and research we do will really depend on your starting point (and the package you engage us for).
We’ll always take a look at your existing marketing assets such as your brand, marketing collateral, website, social channels, past emails and anything else you can send us, to get an idea of your current brand, level of brand consistency, and testing whether it is relevant to your current audience. If a brand is 3-5 years old, its not uncommon for a brand to need a little refresh or reposition to ensure it is in a place to start marketing from. Whilst we can do the best marketing in the world, if we are sending them back to a website or social channels which won’t work or resonate, we have a problem.
We’ll also always take a look at your competitors, from a marketing perspective. Drawing on our years of professional experience, we will assess our competitors from a range of marketing perspectives. How relevant is their brand? How good is their website? What features and functionalities does their website have? What about their social networks? Which channels are they on and what is their current approach to social media? Do they run any social ads or Google Ads (we have amazing professional tools to assess this). What is the nature of them? How well do they rank on Google for relevant keywords and where do you rank in comparison? All of this information combined becomes extremely valuable and informs the consequent marketing strategy and pln.
How do you use this information in a marketing plan and how does this benefit me?
With all this information in hand, we will prepare a situational analysis meaning where you are now. It is open, honest and direct and it needs to be. We’ll talk about the good but we’ll equally talk about the not so good and most importantly, what needs to be done.
We’ll define your target audiences in ways you may never have considered. This will generally be defined as primary audiences (your most important people to target with marketing) and secondary audiences (not as important but still important people to target with marketing) and there may be several target market segments in each. We’ll also identify key demographics, psychographics, behaviours and characteristics of those audiences, often giving a target persona to help you connect with and visualise this audience.
We’ll also outline what we believe your brand or market positioning should be with reference to what key positioning statement summarises who you are and what you do, and any unique selling points of the business. We’ll then discuss key messaging, brand voice and brand personality which inform your marketing style and voice. And lots more!
Why should I get you to prepare a marketing plan?
Getting us to prepare your marketing plan means you are accessing a team of people with deep marketing expertise across a wide range of marketing disciplines, including SEM, social media, ads, photography and branding, just to name a few!
We may draw upon multiple team members from our team in the development of the marketing plan to ensure expertise from a multitude of disciplines is explored, before articulating this into a professional document.
We can help you identify opportunities, key target markets, assets you may need, activities to start including and what budget you will need to do it that you may not have even considered.
Using our tried and tested formulas for developing a marketing plan, we’ll take the time to get to know your business (and we have a lot of experience with a lot of different industries!), help you identify marketing opportunities and document key points, and bring some insights and focus you may never have had before.
It’s a journey and it’s an investment, but it will be well worth it!
We have many marketing plan packages to offer, and can even tailor a new one just for you and your objectives. Read more about them here: https://www.thecreativecollective.com.au/marketing/marketing-communication-plans/