“Marketing Plans are an incredibly useful, but frequently overlooking tool for marketers” wrote Bill Blaney, author of B2B AtoZ
As the Creator and Host of the extremely popular show Marketing Made Simple TV, I get many books sent to me by prospective show guests. These authors want me to read their book in hopes of being booked as a guest on the show.
One of those books is B2B AtoZ by Bill Blaney, which I am currently reading. There is something very important in this book you need to know – the importance of a good written marketing plan in your digital marketing programs. In this book, he writes on page 76
Getting Started: The Most Important Tool – The Marketing Plan
“It may seem elementary, but many companies overlook this crucial step. In order to understand what you want, where you want to go, how you plan to be perceived, and how to get there, you have to write it down.”
Here is what the author believes needs to be in your marketing plan:
“Marketing plans can be 50 pages or 2. They can include a full media plan or a suggestion of what sites, publications and events need attention. They can set agendas for quarters or the entire year. What you’ll accomplish in writing your marketing plan is clarifying your goals, thinking through your product or service categories, and pinpointing how you want to spend your money.
Here are typical elements:
- Who”s your target market?
Age range, Sex of primary customer. Income level and profession. Education. Location. Luckily, most companies know the profile of their buyers—and knowing your customer defines how you advertise to him or her. (My note: Agreed, but you also need to understand why they would or would not buy from you and why. Those insights come from Buyer Personas)
- How well do you know your product or service?
What are the similarities and differences between your product and service and the competition’s? Do you have unique benefits or features? What are the key selling points?We always ask the same simple question to our client, and most of the time, they don’t have answers at the tips of their tongues. So right now, try writing down an explanation of why someone would buy your products and do business with you. When talking about unique features, try to explain them in plain terms. Many B2B products are technically complex. Whether or not your customer is an engineer, it’s always best to find the easiest, most conversational way to describe what it is you do. (My note: Talk in human English, keeping it simple.)
- What is the demand for your product or service?
What products or services are popular and what ones need a push? Based on a product’s yearly gross and increases in revenue, most companies have some idea where they want to concentrate their advertising. With multiple products, the marketing plan is based on:
- If this is a new product, when will it be ready for market? If it’s not a new product, what are the expected profit goals for this product for the upcoming year?
- What are the most important (and well-populated) trade shows for these products?
- Who are your competitors?
What are their strengths and weaknesses? How lucrative is their business today? Do you intend to go head to head with your competitors in the same publications and online venues that they do? Or are their other strategies, or markets that the competition has ignored. Is there something your company can promote or enhance that the competition won’t, like exceptional service, or is there a new innovation you will integrate to make you the shiniest object in the bowl. A little bit of research on competitors goes a long way. (My note: Great idea, Bill. Understand your enemy.)
- What is the marketing environment and how is it affecting sales?
The psychology of your customer is of primary concern when the economy is in dire straits. You need to reseach who is buying today, and that may determine whether your advertising is focused across all markets or a few in particular which are showing growth? Some companies have found growth in India and China, for instance.
- How much is your marketing budget?
Although budgets vary, most marketing budgets are approximately 9% to 13% of revenue. It’s a good place to start, but smaller companies should know that you get what you pay for. There are many creative ways to work with a small budget, but you can’t expect to get a five-month banner ad on Squidoo.com, and article in FastCompany, and a robust online presence for a small budget. Spend appropriately. It will pay off. (My note: Far too many companies starve the marketing budget, instead of investing smartly.)
What are the particulars?
- Online advertising
- banners, keyword marketing, page takeovers, videos
- Print advertising
- Smart devices
- mobile phone and tablets
- Social marketing
- blogging, forum posting, RSS feeds linking, guest posting
- Web presence
- company sites, , micro sites, social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, FourSquare, Slideshare, etc.
- online and off-line, sales oriented or vertical, which includes a promotion for the sales team and the end users.
- Trade shows
- displays, printed materials, article reprints, branded merchandise or give-aways, event marketing, which could include event organizers or experiential marketers giving your potential buyers a demonstration of your product or service or putting on a show or hosting a dinner.
- Public relations
- case studies, testimonials, white papers and articles about new products, local or national initiatives, company changes that might interest different markets or useful instructional information.
- Maybe you want to get your company name on a race car or be part of an affiliate promotion for an event that would compliment your business type
- Commercials or industrial videos
- brochures, stationary, sell sheets, ebooks, infographics, videos, forms.”
What do you think? Do you have a written marketing plan in your business today? If not, are you planning to write one. Why or why not?
This blog belongs to the sales lead generation company Find New Customers and is penned by award-winning BtoB marketing expert Jeff Ogden, the Fearless Competitor. You can reach Jeff Ogden at 516-495-9350 or by sending an email to sales at findnewcustomers.com. You can also follow Jeff on Twitter at @fearlesscomp.