Although every client has different needs and the effort that goes into every marketing program is unique, the marketing process itself remains constant and can be created through a phased approach. A detailed plan will allow you to communicate a single strategy to all of your partners, agencies, owners, employees, as well as assist in holding others accountable for their roles in the overall success.
Phase 1: The Platform
The foundation of marketing success comes from strong positioning in the market place. The time and effort you put into the planning phases pays off during execution.
Formulate brand – A brand is more than a logo and tagline. A brand is the combination of every touch point a person has with your company. How are they greeted when they walk into a store? What music played when they are placed on hold? Do emails contain useful information?
Define your positioning – How is your brand presented in relation to others in your market? A good way to determine your positioning is to focus on the whys behind what you do.
Determine messaging – What is the tone of your communications. Do you need to gain your customers trust if you’re a financial business? Can you wow them with humor?
Determine your audiences – How you communicate internally to your employees with your mission statement differs how you communicate externally to your customers.
Create the visual platform – Start with a color palette, look towards interior and architectural design elements for interesting symbols and patters to create a sense of place.
Phase 2: Asset Development
Now that you have a created a platform with a brand look and feel, it’s time to execute in different mediums.
Website – These days, your website is often the first interaction your client will have with your brand. Make sure that first impression is a good one. Websites should have clean, simple design and be easy to use. Never sacrifice usability for ascetics.
Collateral – In the digital age, collateral provides an opportunity to stand out even more by offering a tactile experience. Make your collateral beautiful, make it something your clients will want to keep or better yet, pass on to another potential customer.
Communication appropriate for the medium – A unified brand will vary a bit according to medium. Website copy might be written in a more bulleted format than a brochure. White papers are written in a more formal voice than social media posts. POP graphics may be bolder than visuals in a 32-page brochure.
Phase 3:The Strategy
How will you achieve your sales and revenue goals within each market segment? A well-defined strategy identifies who your target customers are, how to reach them and how to retain them so they repeatedly buy from you.
Marketing budget – Know your total available budget and then prioritize your needs from there. Try to keep some funds in reserve so you can take advantage of unexpected opportunities.
Plan – A strong marketing plan will ensure you’re not only sticking to your schedule, but that you’re spending your marketing funds and resources wisely and appropriately.
Critical path – Determine the chain of events that needed to convert a prospect into a customer.
Accountability – How can you track results of your efforts? Ask people how they found you on your website contact form. Use the online tracking mechanisms available with Google Adwords, Yahoo Search, and online advertising efforts.
Creativity pays off – Marketing plans that simply includes the expected press release and advertising won’t do much to differentiate you. These days you must be creative and think out-of-the box in order to connect with your customers.
A year is 12 months – Your plan should include a year-round strategy on how to reach each market segment. An integrated plan includes: online, seo, ppc; social media; PR; email marketing; customer relationship management, and more. A combination of programming, offers, events, and activities will keep your customer engaged.
Phase 4: The Execution
Now it’s time to make things happen by putting the strategy into action.
Keep your focus – Critical paths help everyone stay on track with deadlines and allow advanced planning for proper execution. You’ll be able to focus your resources more efficiently on what is needed to make things happen.
Think big – Don’t let the bandwidth of your internal team limit your plan. You can always hire additional support to execute a more aggressive plan that will help you achieve your sales goals.