How to Start Your Marketing Plan – Part 2: The “Dreaded Marketing Objectives”

How to Start Your Marketing Plan – Part 2: The “Dreaded Marketing Objectives”

Great! So, here we are. We have done our initial homework and really have wrapped ourselves in our customers skin (well, not literally, that would be very creepy and take away some of the people we could sell our “Cool Thing” to). We have a great understanding of who our customers are and what they are really in need of. We may have done interviews and even come up with some very detailed personas. (See Part 1: Know your audience!)

Now, I’m going to skip defining our branding and unique value proposition, as I’m going to pretend we already have those little bits of business goodness already completed. They each deserve a post of their own anyway, so let’s just move….

on to our business and marketing objectives!

Now (and this can be done while you are still working on your customer research) we get to do the fun stuff! We get to map out the goals and outcomes we are looking to accomplish and create a timeline as to when we expect to meet them. Let’s not forget that we need to create the right KPIs (Key Point Indicators for our newer marketing friends) that will allow us to really track if we are on the right path and able to hit those targets.

What does that mean?

For example, if we want to sell 1000 “Cool Things” a month to start, we might consider “conversions by channel” strong KPIs to watch. In turn we need to track what we are doing for marketing those channels. This way we can adjust what we are doing as we need to try to hit our goals. Are we lagging on getting affiliates signed up? Is our email list way too small? Is our SEM (Search Engine Marketing) budget too low for the keywords we are targeting? Are we using retargeting to our best advantage? (More to come on that, my friends, in a later post.)

We then need to plan out exactly what has to happen for each of the best marketing areas to get the fastest result as well as the long-term gains. Pre-build and automate as much as possible with the understanding that we will need to adjust accordingly based on market conditions, industry changes and testing results.

Now Get Busy!

After that, it’s a matter of doing the work – and it can be a lot of work depending on what you have put in that marketing plan! All the while tracking, analyzing, testing, tweaking and going back around again with our new knowledge to keep hitting and exceeding the goals we set for ourselves.

We get to set up our paid search, display, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy, social marketing, email and whatever else we think we need. First do the things we think will work easiest and fastest with the lowest cost to enter the game. Then move on to the more complicated. All the while watching those KPIs and tweaking as you go. A great thing about the digital space is that it’s easy to make changes very quickly, so as soon as you see something not working, you can move on it.

Some basic steps to come up with the marketing plan.

  1. Define our target audience (using demographic and psychographic research, surveying and market research, personas, etc.)
  2. Define our brand
  3. Define our complete value proposition (usually taken from business plan)
  4. Define our business goals (usually taken from business plan)
  5. Define our marketing goals (ie: goals, desired outcomes, timeline)
  6. Define our marketing channels (online and offline and changeable based on target/persona demographic/psychographic differences)
  7. Decide on the highest marketing return opportunities and create strategies surrounding them
  8. Create an annual marketing calendar
  9. Build out and automate as much in advance as possible for each channel (with the understanding it will change as events unfold and technology and the business model evolves)
  10. Create a plan for ongoing requirements and steps to track and test each marketing area
  11. Adjust and tweak based on testing

Your marketing plan may need or call for more or fewer steps depending on a variety of things like budget, product or service and timeline, but you get the idea.

Just make sure when you are starting your marketing plan, you have your customer in mind and you are going in the right direction!

(See also:Part 1: Know your audience!)

How to Start Your Marketing Plan – Part 1: Know your audience!

How to Start Your Marketing Plan – Part 1: Know your audience!

I really can’t emphasize this enough… KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE!

You have a business – a GREAT business, a fabulous product and the most amazing idea that everyone will totally love – so what now? How do you get that amazing “Cool Thing” in front of the eyes of the amazing, cool people who will want it?

You need a plan… a solid strategy and an actionable plan for the marketing of your amazing “cool thing”!

Well, we know what our “Cool Thing” is. We worked hard on our “Cool Thing’sbusiness model. We filled in all the spaces… dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s. We know our value proposition, target customer segments, distribution channels, core capabilities, cost structure and how we will make our profit. But, how will we market our “Cool Thing” over the course of time? What steps will we take? What is the best way to get to the word out… and even more importantly, get the money in?

Who is your audience?

We need to really figure out our customer (typically begun in the business model) and understand what their need is and where we fill the void.

Ask yourself:

  • Do we have different types of customers? If so, who are they?
  • What do our customers want and need?
  • What are their challenges?
  • What will we give them to solve their problems or fill their desires?
  • Why will we matter to our customers?
  • Why do they need us or more importantly “want” us?
  • What is our true value proposition?
  • What is it that makes us special to our customer?

  • Now we have to find out how to reach them. How do we get to each of these potential customers and really talk to them? Remember, we need to have a conversation with them about how we will solve their problems… how we help make their lives better. We need to know each specific segment of our customer to understand where to speak with them and just as importantly, “how” to speak with them.

    We should know the basics from the research we have already done in the business model and have made some assumptions based on our own knowledge, but we need to flesh it out further and really find out how to reach our customer.

    They won’t magically find us. We need to find them. Be wherever they are!

    So, now ask yourself:

  • Where do our customers go?
  • What are their interests?
  • How do they typically find what they need?
  • What are they searching for?
  • How do our customers search for and get information?
  • How can we be there at every possible consumer touch-point?
  • Where is the lowest hanging fruit that will cost us the least in money, time and upkeep to start?

  • Create some personas if you can. Marketo has a good “persona cheat sheet” for you to get started. It pretty much relies on you conducting actual interviews, but to be fair… that is really a good place to start.

    You can also check out this nice little persona recipe from the UX Lady. It’s a bit more user friendly than Marketo’s and it really gets into the heart of your customer as well.

    You have to do your research to make the magic happen. Don’t rely just on your gut because a lot of time the ego will get in the way and you can easily make incorrect assumptions not based in fact. It’s not about YOU it’s about THEM! Keep that in mind!

    Start with asking WHY! And then ask WHO!

    Let’s get busy on that for this week. Next week we move on to “Part 2: The Dreaded Marketing Objectives”.

    What the Heck is Branding?

    What the Heck is Branding?

    I had a chat with a friend recently who is looking to take his business to the next level. We were talking about websites and marketing and standing out from the crowd. I asked him about his brand. What makes it special – different from the rest of the competition? Who is his customer and what is it that draws them to that brand – his shop? He didn’t know. He wasn’t really sure what I meant by “brand”.

    Let’s just take a look for a second at this concept of “branding”. He like many people, think of branding as the logo, website, marketing or advertising when actually your brand has much less to do with those “outward-in” business tools and much more of an “inward-out” story about who and what compromises the essence of the business. It’s the sum of experiences and messaging about your shop, products, services, value… all of it. It comes from the inside of the company structure, not from the last cool commercial you created (although cool commercials might be a part of your brand). It’s who you are and what you stand for. It’s the promise to your customer that you are something special.

    If you are a shop selling jewelry, for example what is it that makes you special or unique to the market? Are you the highest quality gemstones or one of a kind jewelry design? Do you sell reasonably priced jewelry with loads of selection? Are you experts in your specific niche of the jewelry industry? Do you have the market on black pearls or Hawaiian styles? Do you have the best customer service in the industry? Do you give back and are environmentally caring? What is it about you that makes you – you?

    Once you have that, then you can work on the rest of the “outward-in” stuff like your logo and your website design. All those things like your business cards, digital marketing strategies and campaigns, content and voice have got to come after you know who you are on the inside. Then you follow through in all areas of your business with that story. Emphasize it, shout it from the rooftops! Make sure that voice and message is in every single point of contact with that consumer.

    All the best brands in the world have that. Brands on the down slide have lost that focus.

    Think about Apple. Apple screams who they are in every ad, web page, store front and commercial. Of course we may not all like what they are screaming, but it’s crystal clear. And the people who are their target like it, which is what they are aiming for. Good branding is about knowing who you are and who your target audience is. Then getting that conversation going with them in the words they want to hear.

    Keep in mind, it has to be real. If you tout yourself as having the best customer service, you better have it. If you say you serve the best seafood in town, it better be true. If you promise the best quality merchandise then your customer better not be getting knock-offs and inferiors. Keep your brand real and pure and those people who have an affinity for it will stay true and loyal to your products.

    Take a look at Seth Godin’s brand definition which I think really nails it.

    What You Need for Your Business

    What You Need for Your Business

    Cover all areas of web and digital for your business!

    What more do you need? My career has grown over the years into something that has moved the needle for multiple businesses, grown client bases, increased revenue and lead generation and enhanced user experiences. With experience in strategy and planning all the way through production and marketing, I merge all elements of design, development, social media, search engine optimization, email and cross-channel marketing.

    How will that help you?

    It’s really pretty simple. I take a look at the business goals (What do you really need) and the target audience (who has a need) and translate that into viable and amazing Interactive and digital experiences that fills the void.

    We all need to focus more on the real reasons behind why we create anything online… websites, applications, mobile, widgets, games and whatever other cutting-edge digital technology all need to be built with a purpose in mind. To create amazing products and experiences for the consumer that are also profitable.

    Interactive, the web and what we build in all its related emerging media channels is about growth and change and truly keeping in touch with the way people interact with the new technologies around them now and as we move forward. It’s about being fully consumer focused and continuously delivering. It’s a moving target that we need to really keep forward focus on.

    Having managed the official ecommerce shops for multi-million dollar brands such as Harry Potter, Warner Bros., Looney Tunes and Cartoon Network and others; I helped strategize, develop and manage the complete ecommerce process to increase retail revenue year over year by over 20%. I have also recently worked at an entrepreneurially-driven, Interactive division of a leading entertainment company, a company who worked on reinventing the way South East Asia sells online and for a boutique ad agency in South Florida running their Interactive Department.

    Take a look at some of my Interactive projects.

    Every day I need to strategize, produce, market and manage multiple brands online vision and growth strategy. To get those goals realized, we incorporate a variety of Interactive elements, such as:

    • Ecommerce and alternate revenue generation
    • Email and other opt-in push marketing
    • Mobile technologies, apps, marketing
    • Web including micro-sites, landing pages, content marketing
    • Cross-channel marketing
    • Freelance and internal resources, partners and vendors
    • Cutting edge technology
    • A/B and multi variant testing and analytics
    • SEO/SEM/Display
    • Social media

    I’ve been in Interactive for a long time now and I can tell you it’s a never-ending, Lamborghini fast, spin like a top, crazy Interactive ride on the information highway where we need to pay close attention and adjust on the fly as needed. If you are not paying attention, you are going to get run over. My job is to make sure we are paying attention and figure out the best way to get from the start to the never-finished line!

    Let’s keep moving forward and see what amazing things we can make happen.