Ask three different marketers to describe their planning process and you’re likely to get three different answers. While there are certainly some standard aspects to any expert-driven marketing plan, every pro has their own way of describing and grouping those elements. Still, there’s usually a common thread that revolves around research, money and creativity — all of which are represented in the three-stage planning process described here.
Collect and Analyze Data
In marketing, planning is crucial. It’s almost impossible to overestimate how much a solid foundation of preparation and research can influence the overall success of a campaign. This first phase is all about collecting data both internally and externally. You’ll look at the health of the company, the strengths and weaknesses of key competitors and the state of the industry itself.
Getting to know everything from cultural influences to market predictions can help you understand your target demographic’s needs and how your product or service can be presented as the ultimate solution.
Determine Marketing Budget & Allocation
Once you armed with a mountain of research, you get to start poring over your budget to see how much you can afford to funnel into marketing and how you want to allocate those funds. There are tons of options here, which is way all that phase one research is necessary.
Getting to know your ideal customer informs which marketing channels will be the best use of your assets. TV vs. radio, paid search vs. organic, Facebook vs. Twitter — not every decision will be a case of either/or but establishing and following KPIs (key performance indicators) will help you build a marketing mix that makes sense for your business and your goals.
Create the Marketing Assets
Eventually, all that planning you’ve done has to pay off, right? It’s not quite results time yet, but creating marketing assets does get you one step closer to seeing your plan in action. This is when you let your artistic side take flight — or, if design isn’t your thing, this is when you hire someone to turn your data points and brand messaging into marketing collateral suitable for everything from print and video to local outreach and inbound marketing.
There’s a reason marketing is a team sport. It’s hard enough to keep your eye on one ball, but once you’re planning an important campaign, you have to master the art of juggling. It helps to have people who can specialize in each of the three steps above. Hire skilled researchers, have a consultant talk to you about the ins and outs of each marketing channel and outsource content writing and social media management if you don’t have the in-house experts to get the job done efficiently and effectively.
Looking forward to your campaign launch but not quite sure you’re ready to rock? Check out our guide to the strategic marketing planning process and give your big idea the support it deserves.