Creating and Managing a Marketing Plan

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on September 29, 2010 in: Business Marketing, Tips in 10

It seems like every time you turn around there is another “amazing marketing opportunity” for businesses to invest in. Depending on the business and the market they serve (as well as other factors like their budget) these can range from billboards to business cards to Twitter to websites to viral campaigns to email newsletters to podcasts to proposals to television commercials to publicity stunts… and the list goes on and on.

There are so many things and each one takes some kind of investment – a combination of time, money, and/or effort – to bring it to fruition. Which ones to pursue? Which ones to avoid? And how do you decide?

In this Tips In Ten, I’ll show you an easy way to create and manage your marketing plan so that you will be able to instantly judge which marketing opportunities are right for you, and which ones you currently use are working for you.

Before we get to your marketing plan, you’ll need to do some preliminary work first. You’ll need to figure out how your sales funnel works. Different businesses have different processes to help a customer progress from being a prospect to being a satisfied customer.

For example: A freelance writing colleague of mine knows that his business is based around a simple sales funnel of (1) researching a potential topic at a magazine or writing need at a business; (2) querying or proposing projects to the magazine or business; (3) delivering his work.

Or another example: A local fashion store uses this sales funnel. (1) It applies a variety of advertising to attract customers to its location; (2) its highly trained sales staff interact with customers and sell to them; (3) customers find the clothes they want and purchase them.

These two very different sales funnels illustrate how different businesses get business in different ways. Knowing this empowers these two businesses to market more effectively.

The freelance writer, for example, knows that he doesn’t need to use advertising to attract clients to his website since he actively searches for work. The local fashion store knows that it can’t easily tie pay-per-click marketing to a specific in-store sale so it doesn’t need to include that marketing channel.

Disclaimer: Of course, it’s okay to try other forms of marketing, and it’s possible that your business has more than one sales funnel. But knowing what it is can help you to eliminate what you don’t need and maximize what you do need.

Now, here’s what you can do in just ten minutes a day to create and manage your marketing plan:

Week One

On the first day, spend 10 minutes writing down what your sales funnel is and where various marketing efforts fit in. If you have several steps to turn a prospect into a client, some of your marketing might be appropriate for cold prospects while other marketing might convince warm prospects to become hot prospects. There’s a good chance you’ll have a few marketing efforts left over that you don’t know where to put. It’s likely those are wasting your money, time, and effort.

On day two, spend 10 minutes to tie each marketing effort to a metric related to the part of the sales funnel it’s in. If you use Twitter, for example, to drive warm prospects (i.e., your Twitter followers) to your site, your metric will be measured in your site analytics – specifically, your traffic sources. This metric-creation will be easy for some elements and hard for others. Do your best and I’ll admit that it’s not always possible but it should be possible for a majority of your marketing.

On day three, spend 10 minutes creating a goal for your metric. Your goal needs to take a couple of parts:

  • First, it should be to improve the metric to some specific amount. It should be measurable. For example: “I want to increase Twitter-sourced visitors by 15% next month”.
  • Second, it should be tied to an activity that you do. You might say, “I plan to increase my Tweets to 10 a day” (and then, of course, you’ll want to track that because if 10 Tweets a day drives only a 5% increase in Twitter traffic, you might need to consider 30 Tweets a day to get a full 15% increase).

On day four, spend 10 minutes to think about what specific step your customer needs to take to move from one part of your sales funnel to the next. For example, once your Twitter-source traffic gets there, what should they do? If “Follow me on Twitter” is the most prominent thing on your page, you’re in danger of having that traffic fall out of your sales funnel because they’re already following you. If you get no outside traffic and most of it is from Twitter, minimize your “Follow me on Twitter” button. (And the reverse works, too, of course: if your goal is to create followers on Twitter and your website gets lots of search engine traffic, then maximize your “Follow me on Twitter” button.) Make sure that you know what each step is, ALL THE WAY THROUGH your sales funnel. You’ll have gaps where you do not have enough (or any) marketing. In the example I’m using here, let’s say that this exercise has sho wn you that you are not building relationships with hot prospects to turn them into customers.

On day five, spend 10 minutes to think about how to fill in the gaps you’ve identified earlier. In the above example, you might think about a subscription email newsletter.

Okay, week one is done! Now you’ve done the hard part. Now you can move on to the next step which will be maintaining this model.

Week Two (and Following)

Spend 10 minutes a day to review your current marketing. Ask yourself:

  • Is it delivering what you need it to deliver? (i.e., are you on track to get a 15% increase in Twitter-source traffic?)
  • Are you fulfilling the “action” part of the goal? (i.e., are you Tweeting 10 times a day?)
  • Is it still contributing to your sales funnel in the same way? (i.e., is that traffic still warm prospects and, if so, are they moving to the next step in the funnel?)

When you encounter an additional marketing technique, spend a moment during your daily ten minutes to ask yourself:

  • Does this new marketing technique improve something I currently have? If yes, then consider investing in it; if no, then decide whether it will send you the same amount of the same kind of traffic. (For example, if something purports to be the next Twitter, you need to decide whether it will send you the same warm prospects that Twitter is sending you now.

Now, in only ten minutes a day, you have a marketing plan that is closely tied to your business and it will help you to evaluate all future marketing techniques against what works for you.

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