Roshni is the CMO of Foxquilt Insurance and Founder of Prosh Marketing, specializing in Go-To-Market strategies for technology startups.
Developing a marketing plan for your company ensures you have a strategy to reach your target customers and provides a structured approach for tackling marketing implementation. As a chief marketing officer (CMO) or marketing leader, it is your responsibility to lead the process of putting a marketing plan together.
A good marketing plan examines the internal and external environment, provides a deep understanding of your customers, and provides a clear road map of activities, which makes it a vital playbook for your marketing team and vendors to execute. I’ve created a number of different marketing plans across different industries and based on varying resources. Here are some tips I’ve gathered for how to create an effective marketing plan:
Research and a solid understanding of your market make up the foundation of a marketing plan. Understanding factors and trends in your category, your customers’ buying behavior and purchasing journey, and the competitive landscape will help you develop realistic goals, create strong messaging that resonates with your target audience, and find the appropriate channels to reach them.
2. Set Realistic Goals
Without realistic goals, it is hard to plan and coordinate your resources. Realistic goals also help motivate your marketing team to perform. Based on a solid understanding of market demand and the efficacy — or at least industry averages — of your marketing channels, create your forecast with potential opportunities and risks built into your projections.
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3. Focus On Your Customer
As a marketer, it’s your job to be the customer’s advocate. Therefore, your marketing strategies should focus on your customers. A marketing plan should not only focus on customer acquisition; it should also consider the entire customer journey, from product development to customer onboarding and service. This will help ensure that you’re anticipating and representing customers’ needs.
4. Don’t Forget Any Part Of The Funnel
It is very attractive for companies to focus on the bottom part of the sales funnel, where it is typically easier to measure and where there are high conversion rates. However, all the different parts of the funnel work together. Ensuring that you have covered the top of the funnel with channels and strategies to build awareness and interest in your company will help you bring more people into your pipeline — and can also help you drive down your cost of acquisition.
5. Don’t Just Think About Distribution: Also Focus On Your Message
It is not uncommon for marketers to get focused on what channels they are using and skip the classic messaging and positioning exercise. If you don’t have a relevant, authentic message that’s competitively differentiated and tested with customers, it doesn’t matter how strong your channel strategies or products are.
6. Gather Internal Feedback
Marketing planning should not only happen on the executive level. Your marketing team can also be a great source of insights and ideas. You can mine valuable feedback from your own team, but the product management, sales, and customer service teams are also important stakeholders in a marketing plan. They can provide valuable information that can greatly inform your marketing plan.
7. Build In Flexibility
Not everything goes according to plan, and it’s important to think about potential risks in advance. Having a very rigid plan with large fixed costs like deposits or minimum spending can lock you into plans and create difficult situations if unexpected situations arise — like changing market conditions or the introduction of a new competitor. Conversely, you may not be able to take advantage of new opportunities if you cannot change your plans quickly.
A strong marketing plan can provide a competitive advantage if you use a measured and strategic approach to efficiently capture customers. If you successfully achieve the targets you set, you can replicate the strategy in the future. Marketing planning is so vital that it should not be a one-time, annual activity; it should be something the head of marketing leads throughout the year, optimizes based on the situation, uses to examine new opportunities, and adapts to account for changing customer behavior, new competition and more.