6 critical steps that shouldn’t be overlooked when developing your marketing plan.
‘Tis the season for planning and budgeting. While some marketers (like retailers) may be making their last-minute push to generate revenue for the end of the year, a good number have their sights set on 2020. With two major holidays coming up, marketers are running out of time to get their house in order to start the new year on the right foot. One way to get off on the wrong foot is to grab your plan and budget from last year and copy it. If you are lucky, you will get similar results, but it more likely that you will see declining performance. You will also find yourself scrambling to justify your marketing strategy and approach at the end of the year.
Below are 6 critical steps to remember when building your marketing plan to ensure success:
- Align marketing goals with corporate objectives.
- Define and refine your target audience.
- Define your positioning and messaging.
- Build a campaign framework.
- Align your budget with your goal-based campaigns, programs, and activities.
- Set up measurement systems that track true marketing return on investment (MROI).
Always start the planning process by incorporating your company goals into your plan and determine how marketing can best support them. This approach usually starts top-down, but will require input from the full team to ensure buy-in. Next, incorporate the goals that are unique to the marketing function. Lastly, don’t just set your goals and file them away. Make sure your goals are always visible to the team and are used to start the planning process for any marketing activity to ensure alignment.
The exercise of defining your target audience requires an honest look at both internal and external factors before making a decision. Don’t fall into the trap of choosing your target market based on who you want to sell to, but instead identity who you can succeed selling to. Both quantitative and qualitative data collection on market size, market share, competitive momentum, product fit, and internal expertise must be incorporated into the target market definition process. If you have achieved a level of sophistication where further segmentation of audiences is warranted, try not to “boil the ocean.” Start with the segments that best meet the following criteria:
- Product or service fit
- Existing sales traction
- Largest addressable market
- Internal expertise
It’s a best practice to revisit your positioning statement every year. In business, the only thing that is constant is change (products, services, competitive factors, market shifts, etc.). You must validate the market need, define your product/service benefits, and identify clear differentiation. All of your supporting messages should originate from your positioning statement for consistency of top line message. Messages should be tailored slightly for each target audience in order to show fit.
The term “campaign” is the most overused word in marketing. These days, almost anything marketing does is considered a campaign. This is sloppy marketing terminology created by software vendors (sending an email is not a campaign, it is a vehicle-specific activity). A true campaign starts with goals, the target audience, a theme, key messages and multiple marketing channels/vehicles for delivering the messages. It is critical to measure campaigns by the sum of its parts, and also include insight into the performance of each communication vehicle used to deliver the key messages. Campaigns fall into two categories:
- Strategic. Strategic campaigns are large, topline goal centric, and theme-based that incorporate both blast strategies (like a major product launch) or long-running message-based marketing (like a new positioning). They usually include a wide range of marketing channels across functions for the broadest reach.
- Tactical. Also goal-based, but tend to be smaller and channel-specific (for example an event series or digital), are shorter in duration and can be targeted at a specific segment (for example industry or geography).
Connecting spending to goals ensures that your budget will not be used for “busy-work marketing.” When building your budget, DON’T:
- Let the budget drive the plan, the plan needs to determine the budget.
- Enable finance to determine your budget in a vacuum, make sure you have the right budget to achieve the goals (you are not going to be successful if you don’t).
- Organize your budget by function without regard to company goals, or you will get siloed marketing plans.
Sorry marketers, if you are judging success off of MQLs, you are not in it to win it. True MROI comes from marketing sourced revenue (hence return). Measure revenue across every campaign, program, and activity you do over the course of the year. If you are not having success inspiring sales, change your plan immediately. This approach will provide you with the data you need to build an even better plan in 2021.
Tune into the blog next week to learn about building the ideal marketing budget for 2020.
And make sure you check-out Plannuh for your 2020 marketing planning and budgeting!