Creating a marketing plan can be one of the most daunting tasks you undertake. Whether you’re a business owner, or an in-house marketing manager, it’s important that your digital marketing strategy addresses all your marketing efforts.
There’s a plethora of buzzwords out there at the moment: Situation analysis, content marketing, social media, market research, and so on. Where do you begin? What’s effective marketing?
We’ve seen too many times businesses struggle with putting a plan together, which is why we put together Marketing BLUEPRINT. It’s a 9-step marketing plan template that gives you a framework to put together a plan for your marketing activities.
In this blog post, we’re going to take you through each step, providing you with a solid foundation for your marketing going forward.
1. Buyer – Who is your audience?
With any plan, be it a marketing plan or business plan, it’s crucial that you start with your target market. Without this, you’re effectively marketing to anyone and everyone, which can do your small business a disservice.
Step one of the Marketing BLUEPRINT is about answering the question “who is your customer base?” You may know this as a buyer persona, and the idea is to craft a profile for your perfect, ideal client.
Take a look at your favourite clients, the ones you love working with, who pay you right, and respect the relationship. Identify qualities such as:
- Business size (team, turnover, type)
- Qualities (personality, lifestyle, background)
- Pain points (their fears, struggles and challenges)
- Where they go for information
- Goals (their business objectives)
This gives you real information about your target market, giving you valuable insight that will ultimately make your marketing more targeted and focus towards them.
2. Learning – What are they looking to learn?
Once you’ve addressed and agreed who your target market is, you can begin to brainstorm the content needed to target them. Step two is all about what your audience can learn.
As we’ve said before, 70% of the buying decision is made before your audience gets in touch with you. That means they’re using search engines to find mass amounts of information, so that they can learn more and become more educated before reaching out to a company.
At this stage, you want to ask yourself “what are the top questions my target audience asks me?” Look in your inbox, your sent box… you’ll be surprised how many questions are sat there that can be turned into content for your marketing plan. As you begin to brainstorm content, always make a mental note of:
- Does this answer a question they’re asking?
- What are they trying to learn about with this question?
- Is this helpful to my target market?
We’ve talked about the Big 5, and the types of questions consumers are putting into Google. Whilst you’re building a bank of questions, you can begin to categorise them into the Big 5 blog topics to help you prioritise writing and publishing content.
3. Understanding – What can they understand about you?
Now when you get to this step, you’re probably thinking “‘understanding’ and ‘learning’ are basically the same thing, so why are they separate steps?!”
In this step of the Marketing BLUEPRINT, we’re addressing how your audience can learn more about your business specifically.
In their quest for information, consumers are also looking to understand more about the businesses they work with. This is where talking about cost and price from the big 5 plays a huge role. Your target market wants to get an understanding of how your business works, what products and services you offer, and what it might look like to work together.
So, at this step, you want to brainstorm content that addresses your business, topics such as:
- How much does [product] cost?
- Who will I be working with for [service]?
- What landing pages do we need to showcase products and services?
4. Engagement – How can you engage with them?
As you begin to learn more about your target market (with your newly formed buyer persona), you’ll start to know more about their activity.
Specifically, you’ll be able to plan how you can engage with them. Social media plays a huge part in this, and is a great platform to have honest conversations and create engaging content to entice your audience in.
For this stage, you want to brainstorm how you can engage with your audience: What social networks are best for your audience? What posts would be suitable (polls, videos, etc)?
5. Pipeline – How to build the customer journey
Now that you have a bank of content building up, it’s time to plot this against your customer journey. Otherwise known as a pipeline, or funnel, every customer journey is different, but they can be categorised into three stages:
- Awareness – Your audience realises they have a problem.
- Consideration – They begin to research a solution
- Decision – They choose that solution.
At this stage, you want to map your content to each stage of the buyer journey, to make sure that you have content that addresses each stage. If you have gaps, it’s back to brainstorming. You want to make sure you have content that is educational, resourceful, demonstrates your products, engages with them as they purchase, and so on.
6. Retention – Keeping your audience in the pipeline
Creating the pipeline is one thing. It’s another beast entirely to retain your audience. Customer retention is extremely important for return-on-investment, and you want to make sure that once you’ve got them funneling through the pipeline, you continue to wow and engage with them.
If a terrible experience is provided, they’re more likely to leave. At this stage, think about how you can combine previous elements of the Marketing BLUEPRINT, specifically engagement and content, and leverage those to wow your audience so that you retain them.
7. Impact – What stories can you tell?
This is one of two steps in a marketing plan that are often neglected – Impact, specifically the impact you have had on clients.
Here you want to think about the stories you have, and the results your clients have seen from working with your company. Often, businesses tell stories about how the client had a problem, came to them and they were the hero – end of story.
Instead, you want to frame your stories so that the client is the hero, and how their problem was solved as a result of working together. Spend some time thinking about your very best clients, and the very best results, and start drafting a case study that showcases this to your audience. Think about including statistics such as:
- 480% increase in appointments
- 1000% return-on-investment
8. Negatives – Why wouldn’t a business work with you?
The second often-neglected step is a bit of a different one. Now, we’re going to focus on negatives. Small businesses often forget to talk about negatives, but in reality, it’s one of the most popular things consumers are searching for.
Ask yourself: “Why wouldn’t someone buy from you?” By answering this question, and other problem-based topics, you’re crafting some of the most disruptive content you could possibly write, and addressing all aspects of your audience working with you, warts and all. Some example articles could be:
- Problems with [product]
- Issues that can arise from [service]
9. Time – What’s next?
And now for the final step: Time. This is where you take your marketing plan, or marketing goals and ask the following questions:
- Who is going to do the work?
- How long is this person/people going to commit to marketing?
- In what timeframe do we want to see results?
By assigning these questions, you’re making sure your marketing plan becomes something measurable. It’s important to assign responsibility to make sure your marketing is actioned, and agree KPIs for measuring results going forward.
For us we recommend, at a bare minimum, two pieces of content per week, be it blog articles, videos, podcasts, etc. If you’ve read “They ask, you answer”, you’ll know the timeframe needed to see results. If not, we recommend allocating a period of 6-18 months to really see the results from your marketing activity.
How would you rate your marketing plan?
And there you have: The Marketing BLUEPRINT. 9-steps to put together a solid, actionable marketing plan for your business. Whether you’re an in-house marketing manager, or you’re working with a marketing agency, we hope this framework helps you boost your bottom line and identify some amazing strategy and tactics for generating more of your ideal clients.
We’re in the process of putting together a full eBook detailing the framework in more detail, and if you’re desperate to get your hands on a copy, you can get on the waiting list here.
Or if you need someone to deliver a Marketing BLUEPRINT Workshop to help you put together your own marketing plan, drop us a note and we’ll be in touch. Otherwise, we’d love to hear how you’re getting on with your marketing plan, and how you’ve used the framework to implement your inbound marketing strategy.