As Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else”.
This is an insightful piece of wisdom for life in general but it applies to marketing as well.
In marketing, the best way to know where you’re going is to create a marketing plan. By setting goals, and your plan to achieve them, you establish where you want your business to be and how you plan to get there. Creating a marketing plan sounds like a daunting task but it can be done in 5 simple steps.
Before you decide where you are going, you first need to figure out where you are. So, begin by conducting a SWOT analysis. A SWOT assesses your current situation by identifying your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The SWOT examines both internal and external factors and helps you consider questions such as …What are you doing well? …In what areas do you face challenges? …What’s your vision for the future? …What obstacles stand in your way?
Also, it helps to know how you stack up against your competitors, so a competitor analysis will be handy here as well. Consider what products and/or services your competitors offer that you do not, what are they doing right and where do they fall short.
- Identify your audience
Now that you know where your company stands, you need to figure out who you are trying to reach. Creating buyer personas based on the age, gender, income, interests, traits, and buying habits of your customers can help. A buyer persona is not simply a list of characteristics; it is a realistic, detailed description of a fictitious person who embodies a segment of your audience. These buyer personas will help you to better understand your customers’ needs and identify how you, your products and services can help address those needs.
- Establish SMART goals
Next, it is time to set your goals. Too often goals are ambiguous which can leave you spinning your wheels. An effective way to make your goals clear and concise is to follow the SMART method – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Be clear about your goals to easily determine what steps are required. Attach a number so that you can clearly track your progress. Be realistic; if your goals are too big and out of reach, you’re just setting yourself up for failure. Ensure that your goals will set you on a course to where you ultimately want to be. And, set a time to stay motivated and on track.
- Determine your tactics
Now that you have a target audience and set your goals, you need to determine your strategies and tactics for achieving those goals. You want to reach your audience where they are so consider their media habits, devices, and social media networks, as well as events they may attend or places they go when planning your marketing, advertising, and public relations strategies. Create a calendar with actionable steps but be sure to follow through – your plan can’t work unless you actively carry it out.
- Set your budget
Finally, do your research and include a breakdown of the costs associated with your various tactics. If your tactics wish list is too costly, explore other options and make adjustments. When calculating your budget be sure to note the amount of time and effort each tactic will require.
Once complete, your marketing plan will help chart the overall mission for your team, outline the initiatives on which you need to focus, and clarify which metrics to track.