It’s the start of a new year and you’ve been tasked with developing a marketing plan for the business. New top-line growth is the expected outcome and the plan is intended to make it happen.
Where do you start?
In school, many of us learned about the 4 P’s of marketing:
A good marketing plan will address all four of those bullets.
The “strategic marketing” component of your plan focuses primarily on the development of the first three P’s of product, price and placement. You might be developing a new product (or service) for an existing market (placement). Or you might be taking an existing product/service to a new market (placement again). Perhaps you’ve developed a new pricing strategy that makes it easier for your target market to adopt your products. Or…maybe you’ve got a new product headed into a new market. If you do, good luck, that’s the hardest! I’ve done it and it’s not easy.
Getting through the strategic marketing phase is the most important part of the plan. This is where you document a list of assumptions on both need and adoption rates. You plot out the associated adoption rate, revenue and earnings that are built on your assumptions. Make sure that you document (bullet) all of your assumptions, including pricing, adoption rate, COGS, etc. The only thing we know with certainty is that your assumptions are wrong. We don’t know how wrong they are, or in which direction they’ll be wrong, but you probably haven’t perfectly predicted the future. It’s important to base your assumptions in reality and gain as much market feedback as possible in anticipation of taking action on the plan. All of these elements of your plan should be documented in content, data tables and charts. Clearly state in your opening summary the need and the value proposition.
Any good marketing plan today will also include a chapter on search behaviors and volume. If there is a “need” for what you’re bringing to market, you’ll find search volume to substantiate the need. An assessment of search volume can help to ground your assumptions.
Now that the strategic portion of your plan is documented it’s time lay out the “action” section of the plan. You need to address that last P, promotion, and also my fifth P, which is pull. Whether a new product or a service, new market or existing, you need to get the word out about your new offering.
The promotional section of your marketing plan opens with the development of your target “personas”, which are fictional representations of the person(s) you’re trying to market to. What is their company, demographic, role, influence, etc.? Once your personas are developed, ask the question, “How do I get in front of this person with my product/service?” The answer to this question forms the beginning of your promotional plan to address both push and pull strategies.
Push marketing drives your marketing outward, while pull marketing brings you leads and customers that are actively searching for you. With a new product or service, you probably need to do both. Traditional methods might still apply in your specific market, including sell-sheets, conferences & conventions, radio or TV, and even direct mail. But digital is overtaking traditional marketing budgets as behaviors shift, and your plan should include a digital strategy to address both push and pull efforts. Search Engine Optimization (SEO), PPC Advertising, Inbound Marketing, Email Marketing and Display Ads are all candidates to help you spread the word and drive a pipeline for your sales pros to close. Develop a promotional budget in your plan with the various channels that you intend to leverage.
We’ve developed a series of content on the subject of budgeting for Internet Marketing, which can be useful to your new marketing plan. And if you need help pulling search volume and behavior to ground your assumptions for “need”, we can help with that.
Good luck with your 2018 marketing plan! My experience has always been that the development of a marketing plan is the most fun part of the business as we envision what could be! If we can help you from Magnetic North, feel free to reach out!