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Updated: June 24, 2021

I’m in Trouble! How Do I Develop an Effective Marketing Plan FAST?

In this article, I'm going to answer the question:

How do we create incredibly effective marketing plans and do it quickly?

I know from experience that for many companies, creating a business plan, let alone marketing plan, seems an insurmountable task. For one, it takes so long that by the time it's actually done, it's outdated.

The way we create effective marketing plans is by only focusing on the practical — nothing else. Everything within the plan is useful, practical, applicable and critical. There is nothing in the plan that is not needed.

Here are the five parts that we really focus on in our plans. Implementing them is necessary to grow your business.

The very reason we create marketing strategies and plans and ask every company to create a marketing plan, is because it creates a framework of operation for the entire company. It enables your entire team to align with your business goals.

It’s important that everyone understands the plan and its objectives, as well as how each of those objectives will be achieved, results measured and reported.

How do you create a good marketing plan?

1. Define Your Main Objectives

2. Identify Key Business Drivers

3. Build Around Three Big M’s: Market, Message and Media

4. Alocate a Necessary Budget

5. Track and Report on Your Results

Let’s take a close look at every point.

Define Main Objectives of Your Marketing Plan

First of all, you need a plan and a good one at that. What all good plans have in common? That’s right — they all have coherent and well-established goals. Yours will need one too. To compile a set of goals your whole team needs to work together, because all parts of business need to understand where they stand and what they want to achieve. Your goals can be internally or externally focused, maybe a bit of both.

It is also necessary to conduct an analysis of your business to determine what are you strong and weak sides are. A quick SWOT analysis can help you with that. SWOT stands for “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats”. It will help you to develop full awareness of all factors, involved in developing of your business and, as a result, create a marketing strategy that works for you.

Identify Key Business Drivers for Your Marketing Strategy

Business drivers are what makes your business work. It is you web traffic, conversion rate of said traffic, prices and volume of products sold, cost of operations, etc. Basically, they affect all financial aspects of your business: revenue, expenses, and capital costs. Identifying right business drivers that will help you to reach objectives you set up earlier is key for creating an effective marketing plan. Typically for any business we work for, we identify 5 to 7 different business drivers that will get them from point A to point B.

Each company will have their own main business drivers. To understand what they are look at what “drives” your business. Try asking a few questions, like:

  • What drives my sales?
  • What drives my costs?
  • What drives my revenue?
  • How do I improve quality of my work force?
  • How do I make my business more attractive for customers?

Determining what exactly drives your business can be tough because these drives can range from indirect to direct ones. Nevertheless, understanding the pillars of current state of your business is important to developing a strategy for its future development.

Build Your Marketing Plan Around Three Big M’s: Market, Message and Media

Buyers journey

Market is who you want to serve or sell your services and/or products to. To define the market, we create two documents that really help our marketers ensure they target the right people and deliver the right messages. Those two documents are:

  • Buyer personas. This is just the identity profile of your potential clients or customers, whether it’s b2b or b2c.
  • Buyer journey. This is simply an explanation of the possess by which a person comes to buy your product or services, including their motivating factors for buying, or not buying.

These two documents are critical to your team’s understanding of who they sell to and how those people buy.

Once we have those two documents, we work on messaging.

Messaging has a few simple components, but as Jim Rohn once said, “what is simple to do is even easier not to do.” It does take some time to complete this task, but not doing it makes marketing less effective. So it’s really paramount to tackle your messaging head on.

When we work on messaging, there are a few things we pay attention to first:

A unique selling proposition or USP

H=Get more customers by means of unique selling proposition

USP is an answer to the question: why should a prospective customer choose to buy from you versus all other options (including the option of just doing nothing at all)?

If or when you can answer that question — and explain to your target market the advantage of doing business with you — you’ll be ahead of the game.

By the way, this is very different from telling prospects how you’re different, because who cares how you’re different? Ultimately, the customer does not care if you’re different from the other guy, they only care about whether it’s advantageous to them, to buy from you as opposed to from the other guy.

While answering this question for prospective customers or clients seems so obvious, you’d be amazed how many companies never do.

If you, the business owner or marketing manager, do not know the answer, you have to ask your customers. Yep. Ask your customers.

But what do you ask them? You actually call them up and ask:

“Why’d you buy from me in the first place? Why did you choose to do business with us in the first place? Why do you continue buying from us?” Reviews and other forms of customer feedback are very enlightening in this department too.

Chances are your customers have purchased similar services and/or products before, thus have experience with competitors in your field, so they know why you’re better. Talking to them will lead you to the ultimate answer. It will give you your unique selling proposition.

Next, we put together what’s called irresistible offers.

What are irresistible offers?

What is an irresistible business offer

These are offers that are very easy for your prospective customers to take, rather than commit to a larger purchase.

These offers can be something as simple as downloading a checklist, a white paper, a guide from your website, buying a sample that is lower cost or has a generous return policy, or signing up for a free trial. The irresistible offer will differ according to what business you’re in, but they’re a must.

Giving prospects something that is irresistible and hopefully features some sort of guarantee component,  makes it so much easier for them to give you try before making a larger commitment. Without the irresistible offer, many prospects will simply walk away altogether, leery of taking the full plunge right off the bat.

We try to come up with a few, not too many, different irresistible offers for every client because that helps them generate more qualified traffic, leads and business.

Once we have a USP and irresistible offers in place, then we finally start working on media part and put together what’s called a content strategy.

What is content strategy?

The simplest way to create a content strategy is to compile a list of questions that your prospective customers are asking in order to make a buying decision.

When you have a list of questions you do not need to guess what content to create on your website, blog or social media because your customers are driving that decision for you and this is really the right way to go. So let your customers guide you and tell you what they’re truly interested in.

Typically, we start off with a list of at least 50 different questions. For many organizations the list could be much greater than that. Regardless of size, this list creates guidance for your marketing team on what content to produce to attract more attention and demand for your products and services.

So once you have your USP, irresistible offer and content strategy, then and only then do you determine what the best channels are for delivering your message to your target market.

There’s outbound, which means sending content out in bulk via email, social media, or a number of other channels. And there’s inbound, which positions your message in the places prospects are actually looking: be it Google, YouTube, or any other channel in which they might be searching for your services or products.

Right content marketing strategy

Now, you have your objectives, your business drivers, your market, your business, your buyer personas and buyer journeys, your messages, your USP, your irresistible offer, your content strategy and your media.

How will you deliver all of this communication? What do you do next?

Allocate a Budget for Your Marketing Strategy

Yes, a budget should be actually part of your marketing plan. And it’s a very important component that many people leave out.

How do we propose to come up with a budget?

It is actually really simple. First, look at your objectives. Now break down an objective into something quantifiable, for example, “we want to gain 20 new clients per month.”

Then you determine what you need to invest to acquire each single customer. Let’s say we determine that up to $300 per customer is what’s needed. Then your budget should be $6000 per month.

Depending on the type of your business, small business or eCommerce marketung agencies should validate that number and tell you whether it is feasible to achieve your objectives with that level of investment.

If it is too low, they will tell you that your competition will outspend you, thus you will never achieve your stated objectives and will be spending money but not getting the results that you want.

Or they could tell you that it’s too much to spend, thus shrinking your margins (which in turn means you will have less money to reinvest into attracting more clients).

No one gets it right right out of the gate, but you need to have a starting point, and this is the way that we focus on creating a budget. It evolves from your actual objectives.

Track and Report on Metrics to Improve Your Marketing Strategy

The final, fifth factor in creating a marketing plan, is how we are going to gather your business driversthe actual metrics — and report them.

This important piece of the equation is often missing from marketing plans. Why is it so important? Because you, the client, need to have control over what’s happening, track progress and see the actual results.

Once a month is a good time to review what has been accomplished. You actually need to see that list of business drivers. We here at Comrade communicate with our clients once a month, letting them know what has been done over the previous month, what has been achieved in terms of measurable drivers, and what will be done the following month.

This way there is complete transparency with the clients. Our client knows what’s been done, what is yet to come and what has been accomplished. Putting together all of these components does take time, but the return on that investment of time and energy is huge.

Do it right and you will succeed. Do it wrong, and it will still get results, but your results will be tremendously lower than they could and should be. If you need help creating a plan, we will gladly help you, just contact us.

It’s an empowering step, and I hope that you succeed with your new marketing plan.

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Do I need a marketing plan?

Absolutely, yes. Marketing plan helps you promote products and services to the market of your choosing. Marketing plan is the bridge that connect two shores of your business and customers. You can reach other shore without a bridge, but it makes it way faster and effective. Marketing plan provides several important things that are a key to your success: focus, efficiency, transparency, consistency, and clarity. With a marketing plan you can clearly define a necessary goal, allocate resources according to the needs, know exactly how everything is working out, find effective patterns and understand how to improve in the future.

What are business drivers?

Business drivers are the most important metrics there are. It what "drives" your business, so to speak. It is things that affect all financial aspects of your business: revenue, expenses, and capital costs. It can be things like web traffic your site gets or cost of operation. They range from indirect, like workers morale, to direct ones, like volume of products sold.

How can I identify business drivers for my company?

Each company will have their own main business drivers. To understand what they are try asking a few questions, like: What drives my sales? What drives my costs? What drives my revenue? How do I improve quality of my work force? How do I make my business more attractive for customers? Answering these questions will help you to determine main business drivers for your company.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you would like to discuss your project, reach out to our specialists.

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About the Author
Sasha Berson
Sasha serves as Managing Partner and VP of Client Solutions for Comrade Digital Marketing, a Chicago-based marketing agency dedicated to solving client’s most pressing digital challenges.
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