Creating a marketing plan can seem very overwhelming. There are so many techniques to consider and data to collect before you can make a truly great marketing plan. However, when you get to the core of your a marketing plan, it can be summed up in three stages - Analyze, Budget, and Convert. By focusing on these parts, it's easier to digest the data and create an impactful plan. Now let's take a closer look at each part.
I strongly believe in using data to drive a marketing plan. This means you should understand who your target market is and where they go. That's the best way you will to get your message out in front of them. Let's be honest, I'm going to choose different places and messages if I'm selling something to me and my husband verses my parents. This is why it pays off to be very deliberate and specific about your target market, and taking the time to understand them.
To help you start analyzing your business and target audience, I made some free printable worksheets. You can download them at the link below!
Download My Free Market Analysis Worksheets
One thing I like to do is create personas. In a nutshell, this means you give a face, name and background to someone who fits in your target audience. Then, you can create a brand, message, website, social media presence, advertising, etc. by taking a step back and looking at your brand through their eyes. Most businesses' target audiences vary, so you should create a persona for each type of person you want to attract. Then, you use that persona to make the best marketing decision for each contact point you have for them.
You also need to analyze the types of places you can advertise, and who uses them. For example, you typically see younger people on Instagram while Facebook skews older. Also, there are different interactions and content layout on each. So, what you create and use for each one should be slightly different. Using the personas you made for the demographics who normally use those sites and your call to action should drive your choices for creative. Then, in the end, you can have a better, more sincere connection to the target audience on those sites.
Now, on a slightly different note, with the ever-changing options to get your message in front of people using the internet, you might not have a lot of data to go off of. However, knowing you have little to no data to use, is also a way to gage risk. Then you can decide if you want to pursue that option with the understanding that there is a potential for a huge payoff or giant loss. So, don't be afraid to do something, just because there's not data for it. Who knows?! You might be the next Zuckerberg.
This section is dependent on the type of business you have and what you're financially willing to put toward marketing. To completely serious and honest here... I will give someone with zero dollars for marketing much different advice than someone who has a million dollars. Some of it will overlap, but at the end of the day you can reach more people, much easier if you have more coin... as with most things in life: cash is king.
Don't feel discouraged if you don't have money to put toward marketing. You're lucky to be in business during the age of the internet! You can put a your own time and energy into creating ads, and still reach people. It will definitely take longer to garner a following and you need to have a greater understanding of content marketing. But! It's not impossible. I don't pay to advertise my website and blog, but somehow you found this article. By (cough, cough) analyzing my market and understanding their online habits through data, I'm able to place my content in places they already were perusing the internet.
Turning lookers into buyers is what makes marketing such a valuable investment. This is the part of a marketing plan I feel like gets lost by those who are less experienced in creating them. After you know who your market is and how you're going to get in front of them, you need to determine how you're going to get them to buy your product. As a business owner, this is something you have to be hyperaware of. Getting likes and comments on your social media is great and all. But! If you don't have a call-to-action that pushes them to the next step in the buying process, then you're not truly marketing.
You need to continuously foster relationships and build trust with current and potential consumers, whether it be online or in person. This is how you'll turn someone who is "just looking" into someone who is a loyal customer. For my website, I use social media to funnel people to site. While on my site, I offer multiple ways for someone to sign up for my newsletter (I'll leave a link for that below :) ). Once someone has signed up for my newsletter, I share helpful tips that relate to recent blog posts and new products, which I link in that newsletter if someone wants more information on the topic. This means my subscribers can stay updated on what I have on my site, and I can build good rapport as a trusted source for marketing, social media, branding, blogging, and planning/organization. So, as my website grows along with my product and service offerings, my newsletter followers will be the first to know.
As you can see, converting a consumer to a customer isn't as scary or sleazy as it sounds. Trust me, if I can do it, you can do it!