When you have experienced the joy that developing a robust, evidence based marketing strategy bring and you are clear on why, what and who, it is time to work on the when and where and how.
Marketing planning is an important step towards implementing your marketing strategy, bringing it to life and reaping the benefits. Many of the tough decisions will have been made when developing your strategy but there are still some important ones to make when planning.
Choose your channels
You will know already a lot about the target market you are seeking to reach and the ways and places in which they spend their time. This will help you to make a list of the potential communications channels that you could use. It’s important at this stage to list all potential channels to maximise your options. Research then comes back into play. You’ll need to understand the potential of each channel in terms of scale, scope, resources required and relative cost. There are a whole host of metrics to help with this.
When you have compared the potential channels you can decide which ones you believe will deliver the best return on your investment and the relative priority that you will place on each. This combination is called the marketing mix. You may decide to spend 50% of your money on print advertising or 20% on paid social media. Whatever you do make sure that it is a deliberate decision not a hunch. Your research will have told you what each channel can deliver. Don’t ignore this and run off chasing the latest technology. No one channel is intrinsically better than any other.
Include your time, that of your team and that of your design and marketing agency when budgeting. This is often missed and results in overspend on media and a lower return on investment.
Build your platform
Before you think about planning communications that will bring hoards of new customers flooding to your business you need to make sure that when they arrive there is something convincing and engaging to greet them.
Take a look at your business platform. Analyse each customer touchpoint. Where will your marketing activity drive people to? Your physical premises, website, social media accounts etc? What do you want them to do when they get there? Decide whether your current platform will give the right impression and encourage people to take the action that you want them to take.
If the last time you re-fit your physical premises was 20 years ago, the sign is hanging off the fascia and there is a faint odour of cigarette smoke from back when people actually smoked you may need to consider changing that. Invest in your brand experience and the time and money you invest in your marketing activity will be multiplied and deliver a much better return on investment.
Schedule you activity
When you are confident that people will like what they see when they arrive it’s time to attract them. Take the time to build your schedule. Time along the top, channel along the side, activity joining the two together. Be as specific and granular as you need to. Some channels may involve activity on a quarterly basis, others monthly or weekly and for some it may be useful to plan out activity on a daily basis.
If more than one person is involved in delivering the plan you may need to include notes to help them out. It is typical to plan six to twelve months ahead with repeating cycles for specific campaigns at different times of year.
It makes sense to regularly review your activity and the effect it is having. You can adapt as you go and adjust future activity based on what you have learnt. It’s critical to have a plan but a plan can be developed and improved as you implement it.