Ask anyone who has attempted to launch a brand on the fly, and they will tell you a marketing planning process is crucial.
Understanding all steps of the strategic marketing planning process makes executing it that much easier. As you will see, these three steps require time and dedication to result in success.
Consider this: You want to spend at least as much time planning the launch as you spent bringing your big idea to life.
Planning ahead ensures you fly high instead of flop.
- Your target audience determines every aspect of your marketing messaging and approach.
- Data collection and analysis can sometimes be underrated.
The reason is, the information you gather here is the foundation for everything to come.
- Start by researching other products or services. Review the marketing efforts made by companies similar to yours.
Look at things like:
- What kinds of buyer persona are they attracting?
- Can you determine demographics such as age, gender and location, if applicable?
- What things do people mention most in Google or Facebook reviews?
- What seem to be their interests?
- What about their messaging makes them seem trustworthy and approachable?
- What about their messaging could be viewed as off putting? Note positives and negatives so you know what works and what doesn’t.
- How often are they marketing to their target audience? For example, if they have social media, how frequently do they post?
- If they place ads on TV, Radio or in the paper, try to determine the extent of their efforts.
To gain a thorough understanding of the competitive marketplace, identify the trends among the businesses you researched.
As someone with a vested interest in your product or service, you can often be “too close” to see the big picture and need to rely on a third party to identify the opportunities.
- Define the unique value your product/service brings to the marketplace.
- Identify your primary and secondary target markets.
- Understand the areas for improvement.
Make an effort to determine three words that exemplify your brand.
They should evoke a feeling and an ability to envision your product or service in use.
These words become the cornerstone of your brand. Once you have them, you have officially uncovered your Brand DNA.
Your marketing budget covers the costs for:
- public relations
- and digital efforts.
Even if you have no “real” budget, the time you spend utilizing free marketing avenues still costs something. It is time you are taking away from enhancing your products or providing your services.
The fact is, getting your message out there takes a budget. The saying, “You have to spend money to make money” is popular for a reason!
The general rule of thumb is this: your marketing budget should equal at least 5% of your revenue.
Once you have a budget on paper, the fun begins. There are seemingly endless ways to spend your time and money:
Figuring out where to put your money will hinge on your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).
Some specific, common KPIs are:
- Grow revenue by X percent in X months.
- Increase web traffic X percent each month.
- Generate leads from X to X in X months.
It is crucial that your KPIs include measurable goals.
I’ll tell you why.
Simply saying “increase revenue” will not help you allocate a budget for your marketing planning process.
With KPIs, you are trying to identify the success factors most important to generating business.
Distinct KPIs will help you determine the marketing avenues that make the most sense for your business.
Investing the time up front ensures that nothing falls through the cracks. It also helps you from creating assets that might:
- Be off brand
- Need lots of revisions
- Or worse, go unused
While some might consider creation something that happens after a plan, the marketing planning process includes everything prior to execution.
What does this mean?
It’s simple: you need to create your marketing materials so you are fully prepared to execute a campaign.
Let’s walk through the assets you need for every major marketing avenue:
- Television and radio
- Print advertising
- Public relations
- Search engine and social media marketing
- Local outreach (events)
- Inbound marketing
An eye-catching print ad requires a series of coordinating design elements:
- A great logo
- An inviting color scheme
- Good use of space
- Easy-to-read fonts
- On-brand graphics or photos that are print-friendly
- Relatable content
- A call-to-action
Because the success of print is difficult to measure, creating assets that include clear CTAs and offers is the best way to go.
This will allow you to easily count the number of redemptions and compare it against the cost to place the ad.
This only further solidifies the need for strong print assets. Looking for some more inspiration? Check out these genius print ads.
A PR professional will rely on your business to provide them with a series of assets they can use to spread the word.
These things include:
- press releases
- a current website
- upcoming event or product information
- educational videos
- and more
Building a loyal following of advocates that want to share and converse with your brand all starts with creating a story they can connect with.
- Valuable Content Offers
- Converting Landing Pages
- Strong Call To Actions
- Consistent Activity on Social Platforms
- Utilizing SEO in all content (blogs, white papers, posts)
Creating an effective inbound marketing strategy within your marketing planning process will attract target leads that have a common interest in your brand. Through effective content you are able to pull leads into your pipeline rather than constantly pushing a message out.
What do you feel is one of the most important steps of the strategic marketing planning process?
BONUS: Develop a roadmap with our guide to creating a solid marketing plan.