Like a lot of people do, I had a lot of knowledge about specific aspects of marketing in college.
While I was at school, I took a marketing class and ended up with an internship as the marketing director for a local nonprofit. It was great! Except that I realized that I had no idea how to build a marketing plan. I excelled at individual marketing concepts (designing a booth for an event, looking over a website for engage-ability, etc.) but creating a cohesive marketing plan was where I fell short.
After college, I realized I wasn’t the only person struggling with creating a cohesive marketing plan. Many small business owners struggle with the components of a marketing plan, so I decided to give you the overview of creating a Marketing Plan with this article.
A Couple Quick Caveats:
This is an overview. Which means that I’m going to be going into some of the detail of the steps in the plan, but not a ton! If you get to the end of this article and you’re still struggling with details of marketing, check out some of my other articles to get more familiar with how Marketing works. I highly recommend checking out www.TheStephanieScheller.com/Marketing
Putting this article into action will take a few hours. Creating your marketing plan will take somewhere between five to ten hours (depending on whether or not you have a funnel and multiple target markets), but I want to encourage you to work through it! Having a solid marketing plan in place reduces your frustration with your marketing, and helps your marketing produce better results for you. It’s time well-invested
The Marketing Plan
There are 4-5 components you’ll need for a comprehensive marketing plan:
Your Marketing Message
Your Target Market
Your Action Items
(Optional) Your Funnel
Your Marketing Message
Just to clear something up: the marketing message is not your tagline!
A common misconception about marketing messages is that the marketing message is your snazzy tagline like “I’m Lovin’ It” or “Every Kiss Begins With Kay.” The reality is, that is only a part of the marketing message.
The Marketing Message
What you are trying to communicate to your prospective clients through your marketing.
Key in on one of those words in the definition: communicate. Not tell. Talk is cheap. You need to be finding ways to show your marketing message to your clients, not tell them. And your marketing message needs to be tangible and all-inclusive to what you do for your clients that no one else is doing.
At Grow Disrupt, our marketing message is roughly a paragraph long. Here’s a brief summary:
“You are phenomenal! You are brilliant and smart! And as a business owner, you just need a 2%-5% tweak to take your business and life to the next level. Let us help you find that tweak.”
That statement isn’t a tagline, it’s not something we’re putting on all our graphics. But it is what we are trying to communicate with all our marketing and publications. It’s what we’re aiming to do with videos that break down difficult and overwhelming concepts in an easy way, and by bringing experts to our events that do the same thing.
So even though we aren’t saying “Let us help you find that 5% tweak because you’re phenomenal,” we’re communicating it through everything we do. So figure out what it is that you do and how you change your client’s lives for the better, and that’s your marketing message.
Your Target Market
If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, this might be starting to sound familiar to you. I’ve been talking about the three M’s of Marketing (Read about them here!) forever at this point.. But that’s only because they work!
If your Message is what you’re communicating, your Market is who you’re communicating to.
This area of marketing is a lot more important than some people realize! Here’s what happens with the Target Market…
Your target market is your ideal customer. Building out a Target Market is going to require a lot of research, because you need to know everything you can about your ideal customer. Details like…
Who they hang out with
Where they hang out
Where they work
If they have kids
If they have family
What they want in life
What they are striving for
What drives them crazy
The list goes on...
But here’s what happens when you’ve started figuring out your Target Market: you’ll begin to have some epiphanies! Those moments in movies where the main character is thinking and you see all the lines and mathematical equations floating in the air around them? That’s kind of what happens to you! You’ve got your message floating around in your head, and you’ve suddenly got all the information about your potential clients. Things start to click and you start to get ideas about where to market to them and how to find them. All the dots of marketing start to connect in a way that they didn’t when you weren’t working with the Message and Market. It’s wonderful!
If you’re sitting there wondering where you find this information, here’s a couple ideas: Google, Facebook ads, Audience Managers, other programs and platforms like this.
Your Action Items
Action items relate to your methods of distribution. It’s the “how to” of marketing.
But let me clarify: this is not all of the actions you’re going to take on a recurring basis.
Your action items are an itemized list of one-off projects, based on an audit of your current marketing.
A list of action items may look like this:
Launch Updated Website
Update Social Media Marketing Strategy
End Marketing Subscription at _____
Start Marketing Subscription at ______
Now you might be thinking, “Wait, Steph! You say that you’re constantly building on your brand and website. So isn’t this something you are constantly doing?”
And yes, you’re correct! You are constantly reworking your brand/website/business and making tweaks. You may be going in every few weeks to create SEO tweaks on your site. But you’re not going to have a complete rehaul of your website every few weeks. That’s a “once every few years” kind of thing.
But to get the Action Item List, you need to Audit your Marketing Strategies and Assets.
These assets include your website, brochures, URLs, classes you teach, handouts you give, business cards, flyers, social media, youtube ads, etc.
Take stock of all your assets and ask yourself three questions:
Is this a method of disbursement that will reach my Target Market?
Does the content I’m putting out here reflect my Marketing Message?
Is this clear and simple to understand?
Each of these are important for different reasons. Obviously, if your method of disbursement won’t reach them in the first place or it doesn’t reflect your message, they won’t hear your message. But having a clear and simple message helps remove confusion and miscommunication.
Think about it from the consumer’s perspective: If you are watching an ad but you have no idea what they are actually trying to say, you’re not going to give it a second thought and you’re going to ignore the company. You won’t believe what they have to say, because they aren’t communicating it clearly. So all of your marketing assets need to simplify any complex messages and clearly communicate your message.
For every marketing asset that has “no” in one of those three answer categories, add it to your Action Item list. If your brochure needs to be simplified, add “Simplify brochure” to your action item list. If you realize that you’re running an ad in the paper but your target market doesn’t read the paper, add “Cancel paper ad subscription” to your action item list.
Once you have that action item list, start knocking them out one by one.
The Action Item list is things you need to do once and then don’t have to come back to them for a while. The Baseline is a list of things that need to be executed on a regular (Daily, weekly, or monthly) basis.
You’ll create a list of everything that has to happen on a consistent basis and the frequency with which it has to happen, and then execute them.
You may have people posting on social media on a daily basis, this is one item on the Baseline list. Your baseline list might look like this…
Dave posts to our social media (Daily)
Kate creates videos for our social media (Weekly)
Jane attends a networking event (Weekly)
Paul creates a new youtube ad (monthly)
Obviously the list is going to change per business. And it may change as you realize that different things are working and others aren’t. The important thing is to have the list somewhere that you can see it and regularly have it worked into your calendar to sit down, evaluate what is going well and what isn’t, and ensure all the marketing goes off on a regular basis in order to market the business.
(Optional) Your Funnel
This is optional because some people have a sales funnel while some people don’t, and it just depends on how you run your business and your industry.
Some people are simply aiming to get people to call them or go to their website. Other people are trying to drive traffic into a very specific strategic funnel.
Usually, individuals and businesses with longer buying cycles are the ones using the sales funnels. Sales Funnels can look similar to this:
Traffic is driven to the website, in order to get people to opt into an email list, to get people to look at the email, to get people to request a call, to then give them a gift, to then close the sale.
Sales funnels are used when there’s a lot that has to be overcome in the sales process to actually get a client to come on with a business. If you’re finding that you’re spending a long time (multiple sales calls, multiple emails, etc) to get a client to come on, you probably have a longer sales process and need to develop a sales funnel.
Sales funnels keep people engaged, and move them closer to being willing to invest their money with you.
Before we go…
I want to encourage you to really pursue a solid marketing plan.
Yes, it is a lot of work. But I can tell you from experience, a marketing strategy makes a world of difference!
It allows you to outsource and scale your business, and turns you into the true business owner and manager. It gives you the ability to craft a beautiful message that can touch the lives of so many people you might not have been able to touch otherwise.
About the Author:
Stephanie Scheller is a TED speaker, a two-time best-selling author and the founder of Grow Disrupt. In just under a decade, Stephanie has been behind the scenes with nearly 2500 small businesses. She has worked in groups and one-on-one to create total business transformation & help business owners live the life they got into business to create!