The act of marketing has evolved drastically and will continue to evolve as technology keeps changing and improving. Many new ways to do marketing and different nuances have arisen that significantly affect how both small and large businesses do their marketing and structure their marketing plan. With all of the rapid changes happening in both the marketing and tech world, what marketing is could easily get lost in translation.
What is marketing? It’s being present at the right moment, at the right time, to capture a potential customer.
There are many different ways to reach and capture potential customers. Traditionally, a marketing plan and advertisement focused on print, TV, radio, events, etc. In the digital age and in the age of memes, social media, AI, and VR, establishing a digital marketing plan is key to attract a vast amount of potential buyers. Different marketing mediums serve to attract and engage with specific audiences. If you’re interested in attracting, say, millennials, then targeting a TV talk-show on a weekday at 11AM probably isn’t the best idea. In order to start building and planning your marketing plan, you must first begin by identifying your goals.
Step 1: Define Yourself
You can’t build a successful marketing plan if you haven’t given extensive thought on what makes you unique and your goals. First ask yourself:
- What is my mission statement? How do I sum up, in one sentence, what I do and why I do it?
- What are my objectives? Do I want to cater to small, local businesses and sacrifice size and scale for more intimate business relationships, or do I want to grow my businesses as much as possible?
- What are my value propositions?
- Why do I stand out?
- What makes me and my business unique?
- Why chose me over a competitor?
- What is my elevator pitch?
- What is a short summary of your brand? Don’t leave this out! You never know who you are going to meet in an elevator.
- Define your audience. Who is your target demographic and why?
Step 2: Do Your Research
A common mistake is to begin laying out ambitious plans for redesigning your website, blasting social media, and beating your competitors. Before any of that, and the differentiator between an “okay” and a thriving business, comes the dedication to competitor and analytical research. Running the searches on google for things you would want to appear for, seeing which of your competitors get more traffic with tools like SEMRush, and establishing a habit of accounting is critical. To help you in your research, some great activities you can start with for your marketing plan are:
- Create a easily sharable spreadsheet
- Google search competing ideas or companies and note down, on your spreadsheet, the first 10-15 (first page of a Google SERP) results
- For each of those results, visit and note down their website URL, and note something you do and don’t link about it
- If you’ve got the cash, invest in a great tool like SEMRush or Moz and see which of those competitor websites are doing the best and what SEO keywords they are targeting. The best performing website will serve as your guide for your strategy.
- Subscribe to your competitors social media on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
- Standard to any marketing plan is the SWOT analysis. A SWOT analysis will help you clearly define your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats so that you can develop goals and objectives that are on point and tied to your overall mission. The SWOT analysis will also enable you to understand what differentiates you from your competition and how you should position yourself in the market.
Step 3: Zero-In On Your Target Marketing Channel
Different marketing channels (email, social media, web, etc.) are best suited for certain objectives and audiences. Now that you’ve thought about who you are, what your goals are, and what your competition is like, you want to decide which marketing channel you’re devoting your time and attention to. A few things are certain though, no matter what marketing channel you’re targeting: in the digital age, image and video media is king and queen.
Posts with pictures get higher clicks and engagement across the board. Timing is also very important in social media marketing. Below are optimal post times for the many social media platforms (according to sumall.com)
- Twitter: 1-3pm weekdays
- Facebook: 1-4pm weekdays
- LinkedIn: 7-8:30am and 5-6pm Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday
- Tumblr: 7-10pm weekdays and 4pm on Fridays
- Instagram: 5-6pm weekdays and 8pm on Mondays with a sweet spot at 6pm
- Pinterest: 2-4pm and 8-11pm weekdays with weekends being the best
Email marketing is another important tactic in your marketing plan arsenal. Email is used most effectively as a lead generation tool coupled with content from your website. For example, should a potential buyer visit your website and download an eBook or document, they should then begin to receive a set of triggered emails related to the eBook or document topic, encouraging them to further interact with your brand. Email is also commonly used for announcements, newsletters and promotions. Just as with social media, email frequency and timing matters. While incorporating email into your marketing plan is important, overdoing it can backfire. People don’t want to be overrun with emails and if you are overzealous you could risk losing potential buyers.
If you’ve got the budget or the skills, investing in a video for your website and products is a great investment. Research proves that having a short (2 min) video on your website landing page significantly increases conversions.
Two main factors to improving a webpages results on search engines are relevance and authority. A website’s content must be relevant to the search being done and it also helps a lot having important, well known websites linking to your page. SEO is a long-term project, so speak with your team and decide who would be able to undertake SEO efforts. SEO is much more than just targeting keywords. Link building, content creation, and social media all play key roles in a successful SEO.
Step 4: Measure Results
Like I mentioned above, foster a habit of accounting and in your previously mentioned spreadsheet, keep track of how many emails were sent out daily, track website visits and engagements with tools like Google Analytics, and establish some key performance indicators (KPI’s). Some good KPI’s to start tracking are:
Bounce Rate: Rate of visitors arriving on your webpage and leaving after the first page
Conversion Rate: percentage of visitors who entered into an experience (website, social media post, etc.) and completed the goal (signed up, visited a webpage, etc.)