It takes time to build and it will change anyway, right? Right. But planning your marketing well is worth every minute of your time.
Before we give out all the information and knowledge you need to create your winning marketing plan, let's start by giving you a FREE Marketing Plan Template for 2020!
Click on the image below, and make your own copy to start using this template today.
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Now that you have your marketing plan template, let's go over some basics before diving into more advanced aspects of marketing planning.
Why do you need a marketing plan?
When you have specific goals to achieve you can plan your way to achieve them. Having too general goals like "growing my business" VS. measurable KPIs like "I want to grow my revenue by $600K, and to do that I need 1,000 new customers" is different. Actual KPIs can help you plan exactly what will get you there. What brings us to the next reason: Focus.
Marketing without focus can be very messy and therefore ineffective. The best tip we can give you is to focus on specific activities and have them done excellently. A plan will help you focus exactly on the tasks that will impact your success. Of course, things change and as you learn you can change your plan, but even if you do change it, as long as you have the next month's tasks written down you're work will become much more effective.
It is quite rare that success happens overnight. Once you're consistent with your marketing, for example, post 1 social media post each day or run a PPC campaign that builds more and more traction over time, you'll see results coming.
Start with your business goals
The first step when building a marketing plan is to understand and define which business goals are the plan aiming to achieve. Business and marketing should always go hand-in-hand - remember that.
Questions you need to answer for that are:
- What are the business goals I need to achieve?
- What KPIs will get me to achieve my goals?
- How does my marketing funnel look like?
Want to get more insight on how to plan your marketing for success in 2020?
Marketing budget - key principals
Your marketing budget plan depends on your business stage
Much like marketing goals and KPIs, your budget planning depends on your business lifecycle stage (are you a startup or an established brand). Normally, startups would need to invest more in gaining market share and acquire new customers, wheres established brands would invest more in retention and reputation.
Your niche is also a factor
Each industry has a different marketing structure and consumer behavior, so your niche defines your marketing budget allocation as well. E-Commerce in a competitive niche like fashion, for example, will need ways to lower it's CAC (customer-acquisition-cost) and in upsell, and so its budget will be allocated differently than in a car-dealership where deals and margins are much higher.
Spending tipping point
Your budget out-put function is not linear. You can't expect that if you invested $20,000 and got 1,000 leads to keep the same proportion at $200. To make sure you invest enough budget to impact your business results, you can benchmark with other businesses in your niche, or use a rule-of-thumb by which at least 20% of your expected revenue should be invested in marketing.
Lead-gen and branding
Up until recently, only big brands invested in their brand. Small e-commerces had the privilege of putting all their marketing budget on sales. But as PPC prices are rising and the cost of acquiring new customers is getting higher due to the competition, small online brands will have to increase their retention and build relationships with their audience, to be sustainable. We recommend investing 15%-25% of your marketing budget in non-direct-lead-gen activities such as content, social media, and influencer marketing.
You can read more about the e-commerce marketing challenge in our blog post:
"The 2020 E-commerce Marketing Bubble"
Start planning your budget
The first step when planning your marketing budget is to understand what are the growth channels that have worked for you so fat and are part of your marketing strategy for the next year. According to each channel's effectiveness and cost, you can start allocating your monthly and yearly spend.
Questions you need to answer for that are:
- What are the most effective growth channels I had so far?
- Are there more growth channels I want to test next year?
- Does seasonality affect my sales?
- Align your budget with your KPIs (!)
To get a better understanding of how to plan your marketing budget for better ROI:
After you have your goals, KPIs and budget set, it's time to plan your marketing activities for this year! Ready? 💪
What do you need to consider when planning your marketing?
After you figured out what are the channels that you're going to invest in, the marketing plan should show all the activities you're going to run under each growth channel.
Here are some examples you can use:
Paid media campaigns
To plan your paid campaigns right you should know what are the most effective channels you are going to start using, and to build a marketing funnel that shows you when are you going to advertise to "first-touch" prospects (people that don't know you yet) and what will remarketing prospects need to see in order to be persuaded to take the next move. Now, plan the marketing activities for each of your marketing funnel stages and prospects' journeys from the setup stage to the live campaign stage. You can also add special events that will take place in your paid campaigns such as sales season and other special company occasions.
Well... that's probably the vaguest word in marketing, but also one of the most important ones, and like any other activity, it should be planned in detail. Another important thing to remember about content is consistency. Don't plan your social media if you won't have the resources to be consistent with your posting. It's better to focus on fewer things and do them well. Content can include any valuable engagement you have with your audience, whether it's on your social media, on your blog or in your email marketing. Some of your content efforts will be ongoing (for example, SEO) and some will be building assets for future use (for example, Video).
Offline / Local
Many businesses are so focused on their online acquisition funnel that they forget the opportunities that good old marketing can have. Sometimes advertising locally and using offline marketing like brochures can go a long way in such a digital world. If it's the right fit for your business, I recommend to try it out at least once and see how it goes. Just remember to measure these activities as you would with your online marketing.
And, I can't labor this point enough - You should always make sure your marketing activities will deliver on your goals and KPIs.
Planning for execution with the right marketing team
As we all know, marketing management can be lonely (at every size of businesses by the way), so a crucial factor in your marketing success is building a good team for your marketing execution in 2020. It can be an in-house team, a team of experts you hire, or as in most cases, a hybrid team that's combined of in-house employees and marketing service providers (agencies or freelancers).
3 Fundamentals of a good marketing team:
I'll start by saying a good marketing team depends first and foremost on its leader (Yeah, that's you!). When you choose the right people and knows how to manage them right, your success rates are already good. At the end of the day, good marketing starts with a good strategy, continues with a reasonable plan and depends on great execution.
Your strategy and plan need specific human capabilities so they will be executed well. If you're planning on running paid media campaigns, you better start your year with an expert on your team that knows the job and that you can count on to the deliver on your expectations. To decide whether to hire an in-house employee or a service provider, you'd need to consider two things: (a) What is more important for you - flexibility or control? (b) Do you have the budget and access to hire top talent? In my experience, experienced marketing professionals either demand very high salaries or work independently / in small agencies.
Measurement and performance
We're back talking about your KPIs, and so should you in every marketing decision you make. After you made sure you have all the needed resources in terms of human talent to get your plan running, you'll need to keep tracking, measuring and motivating them to be focused on achieving your goals and KPIs. Not an easy task, especially when you need to measure both in-house employees and service providers. You'll need to understand what KPIs are relevant to each of your team members, and how to run these tracking sessions in a way that will bring everyone together to achieving better results for your business.
Ask the right questions when building your team
Questions to ask a digital marketing freelancer/agency before starting to work with them:
Questions to assess their experience, with respect to your unique business requirements:
- What industry-relevant experience do you possess?
- What kinds of campaigns have you previously managed?
- Can you show me some examples?
Questions that assess their ability to building the campaign strategy you need:
- How do you plan a campaign?
- How do you decide on each campaign’s channel distribution?
- Do you A/B test different campaign messages?
Questions about reporting and KPIs - clear expectations!
- Which KPIs do you think are relevant to us?
- Which KPI’s do you expect to reach?
- Which reporting format do you use?
- What would be the frequency of the reports you generate?
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