It’s true. Your brand will become 1000% more attractive to your consumers.
Believe it or not, marketing isn’t just about advertising. The same way a brand is not a logo, there’s more to marketing than getting the word out there. Good marketing begins with solid insights and deep understanding about the sandpit you’re playing in. If you’re a small business, budding start-up – online or IRL – and you don’t have a marketing plan, seriously, it’s time to get one together.
Insights are sexy: a marketing plan is based on insights.
If you don’t know what’s going on around you, how can you possibly know how to win? You can’t. There’s no excuse for lacking data – there’s this thing called the Internet. You’re on it right now. Use it to the strategic advantage of your business:
- Search for market reports for your industry and look to reputable sources like IBISWorld and Nielsen.
- Conduct a Google Trends search to see what consumers are searching for related to your industry.
- Research your audience, take a deep dive into your Google Analytics and social media insights and then build a Consumer Profile or Buyer Persona that captures what you know about them, for you to then use in your planning.
- Create yourself a good old-fashioned SWOT analysis to see where you stand and what you might need to work on.
Knowing thyself is sexy: take the time to build your brand.
This is where you create and define your purpose, personality, voice and style – all the things that make your brand unique. They all come together to create the most powerful asset of your business (ICYMI – that’d be your brand). It’s about mapping the DNA of your brand – everything from inside and out, and it’s one of the most important processes of soul-searching you can do for your business.
Consumer-first thinking is sexy: create the best consumer experience.
Then you take all of these juicy insights and the soul-searching brand work you’ve done and shape an engaging consumer experience. Every time your consumer sees your brand is an opportunity to delight them. Put them at the centre of your thinking. Think about your brand from their perspective. Create a plan that seeks to forge a long-term relationship with them. Why? Because creating a relationship with customers is good for business.
Existing customers are more valuable to you than new ones. They’re the ones that you can turn into advocates – and help you with one of the most effective marketing tools: word of mouth. If you don’t have a process for mapping your consumer’s experience with your brand, you could be missing a strategic opportunity to gain an advantage over your competitors.
Connecting with your audience is sexy: promote to the right people, in the right way
The insights you’ve gathered inform how you engage your audience and therefore the channels you’ll need in your arsenal to reach and communicate with them. So the next step is to build a promotion plan that does just this AND meets your business objectives. A marketing plan will help you define which channels you will (and won’t) use in promoting your brand (and help you be clear on why). It also guides how you need to create messages that get the attention of your target consumer, create interest, entice them to take a look at what you’ve got to offer, and then finally, to buy from you.
You don’t have to be on every single social channel to be able to reach your audience. Anyone that tells you otherwise is full of sh*t. Fish where the fish are. Go and be social where your audience actually is. Foster authentic relationships that have meaning and relevance.
Review, learn and refine (because as we know, insights are sexy).
The best thing about having a marketing plan is that it is iterative, in that it will evolve over time. When you learn something new or something changes in the market, you need to adapt your plan. There are obviously fundamental things that won’t shift, but the beauty of the best marketing plans is taking the things you learn about your changing space (e.g. new trends, new behaviours from your consumer, new channels to communicate your message) and using them to make minor course corrections as you go, to make the best consumer experience.
Reviewing your activity, understanding your return on investment (e.g. through paid advertising), levels of consumer engagement (likes, comments, shares, follows), and conversion rates (i.e. foot traffic, sales, sign-ups, etc.), is a really important (and sometimes forgotten) part of the marketing process. Having a review process in place will mean you’re giving your business the best opportunity to grow, through optimising according to new insights.
An insights-driven, consumer-centric plan to grow your business? There’s nothing sexier than that.
Make a start and take the time your business deserves to think about the bigger picture (work ON your business, not IN your business for just a short time to get all of this stuff written down).
Want to share your thoughts on your marketing planning process? Drop a comment below.
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