how to write a marketing plan

The misconception we see too often is that only startups need marketing strategies. A lot of us, entrepreneurs, get in the pitfall of focusing on execution and losing site of the Northern Star. You should cherish the essence that distinguishes your business and brings value to your consumers.

Strategic marketing plans are two-fold. On the one hand, it should be your Bible, which lies in your table and provides direction for your enterprise. However, it should be a flexible document reflecting the changing environment, consumer behavior, competition, and technology.

We developed a short questionnaire that we use ourselves to verify if we're keeping our heads up. We are happy to share it with you. It contains four sections:

  • customer
  • your organization
  • competition
  • product

If you're not yet convinced that you, as an experienced entrepreneur or business owner, still need the marketing strategy, I encourage you to download the questionnaire. Spend a couple of minutes with it. If you're missing at least five ticks, then this article is definitely for you. And, hey, no strings attached, we will not ask for your email to download the document.

The questionnaire intended to push you a bit downwards the Dunning-Kruger effect slope. The good news is that this article will move you further to the right along the Competence axis.
dunning kruger effect

Strategic marketing plan

A solid strategic marketing plan is based on thorough analysis and contains detailed actionable and measurable action plan. Read on to learn how to write a marketing plan.

Marketing analysis

Those who had the marketing course in college or business school will get a sense of déjà vu. We are the advocates of classical marketing approach. We do believe that it is not dead, and the new bells and whistles of marketing tech only make the old sound principles stronger. You still need to work hard to analyze the needs and behavior of your consumer. You still need to learn the best practices of your industry (even if you're about to disrupt it? ).

Consumer analysis

These days you can get so much data from your consumer. The era of focus groups and in-depth interviews is gone. Today you don't need to put your consumer in an unnatural environment to test your product. Tools like HotJar or Crazy Egg provide immersive insights on people's behavior on your website. You feel as you're standing behind their back and watching them getting confused with your navigation or clicking items which are not clickable. After watching through a couple of hundreds of videos of actual use cases, you will be able to come up with meaningful and grounded ideas for further experimentation. If you don't feel like watching that much videos or if you are not comfortable analyzing them, be sure to contact us. We’re happy to help.

This analysis brought new business insights to 97% of participants

When people are confused with something or look for honest and candid advice, they don't go to a priest anymore. They go to Google. And this is where the keywords research tools come in handy. You don't necessarily need to hunt for the high-volume keywords to capture the insights. Question-based lower-volume keywords can become the eye-openers when you're looking to understand the needs of your consumers. It does not mean that you should be creating content around those small-volume keywords. Though, you may want to make some business decisions upon them.

The outcome of all these exercises is the development of buyers’ personas. This is the short description of what the person is looking for, their background and unmet needs. It also gives an understanding of the relevant tone of voice for each of the personas. Why not take a look at the buyers' persona template we created?

Competition analysis

We all love the blue ocean strategy concept and strive to create unique products. At the same time, you should never waste time reinventing the wheel. Even if you do not have direct competition to get inspiration from, why not looking at the adjacent markets? The idea here is not to copy-paste the approach your competitors are following. This is more to learn the best practices and to avoid the methods that failed to work.

There's so much you can learn about your competition these days from the online tools. You can learn their inbound traffic channels. You can try to estimate their monthly ads spend. You can see which type of content creates engagement and which remains unseen. You can see if their nice-looking social media can bring any traffic to their website and generate any sales. You can see the messages that the delivery now and their backlog. This is important because what you want to do is to meet the needs of your consumer better than your competition. You want it or not, but the right communication is the part of that game.

Value proposition

Imagine, now you have a well-thought and grounded description of the needs and pain points of your target consumer. You also know how your competition is trying to meet those needs. It's just the right time to think about how you can do it better. That's essentially what the value proposition is. The challenge here is to phrase it in a human language without industry jargon and without going into five-paragraphs long text. Be crisp. It's not even an elevator speech. The attention span of people these days is about ten seconds long. If the person is not interested in what you're saying within those ten seconds, they stop listening. Using the terminology of online marketing, they bounce off.

Sales funnel

Sales funnel is the list of actions you are taking to drive your potential customer from the state of never hearing about your offer to the state of being happy to buy. The complexity of sales funnel varies depending on the industry and the type of consumer you're working with. In some cases, it can be a one-step journey: you need to put your offer in front of the right consumer at the right time. In other cases, it can be the journey with many steps which takes a couple of months for a consumer to complete. The best practice is to tailor the sales funnel towards each buyer persona you're working with.

strategic marketing

Action plan

An action plan is self-explanatory. It is the detailed list of actions that you need to take to achieve the planned marketing KPIs. Here are a few fundamental elements:

  • list of topics for content with attributed keywords
  • a sequence of email campaigns
  • ideas for video production
  • necessary changes for the website to accommodate the sales funnel

Marketing automation

Marketing automation plays a vital role in the sales funnel. Moreover, it becomes essential as you grow the scale of your business. You will not be able to dedicate your time to answer the calls anymore. You will also not be able to afford the army of customer support people to answer every inquiry. Starting with marketing automation early saves a lot of time and nerves. You're ready to test if it works properly on a small scale. By the time you reach the critical level of orders, your marketing machine will be in the perfect shape.

Strategic marketing process

One of the key takeaways from this article is that you should treat your strategic marketing as the process. It cannot remain static, it has to evolve with the pace of your organization scaling up. Sometimes even going ahead of that pace.

You should have an inner desire to keep put your head up away from the routine work at least a couple of times per year. Simply check if your organization is going in the right direction. Make sure you still see who your target consumer is and why they will want to buy from you within the next couple of years.

It's great if you can take the unbiased look at the state of your business. Most of us cannot. This is where a fresh look and the expertise from the outside can come in handy. Let's talk today. Your free initial consultation is a few clicks away. And you'll see how we can help you crystallize your digital marketing strategy for next year.

This analysis brought new business insights to 97% of participants