If you are a business and have any budget or resources for marketing at all, you want to build a highly effective marketing plan. But some mistakes can ruin it all.
What is an effective marketing plan?
Simply put, a highly effective marketing plan is one that can maximize your ROI (return on investment). i.e., a plan based on marketing strategies that can generate high revenues for your business.
What are the key elements of an effective marketing plan?
A marketing plan is effective when it is based on a few core elements:
1. Clear goals and objectives
Start your marketing plan knowing what you want to achieve, and how you want to achieve them. Define your S.M.A.R.T. business and marketing goals, and create a strategy on how you plan to achieve these goals.
This gives your marketing initiatives a structure and helps you to keep track of their effectiveness.
2. Thorough market research
You need to have a solid understanding of your market, audience, and competition before you start any marketing activities. The more research you do, the sharper and hence more effective your marketing will be.
3. Competitive positioning
Chances are, you are not the only brand to operate in your chosen market. To generate maximum sales, you need to stand out from the crowd, build some element of differentiation. Here's a template you can follow.
4. Focused messaging
Once you know your unique value proposition, create your brand and marketing messages. Make it simple, clear, focussed.
5. Deep understanding of the audience
Try to understand your audience, i.e., your prospective buyer, as closely as possible. What are their demographics, lifestyle habits, pain points, path to purchase. Here's a template.
You can download this buyer persona template with the form below:
6. Synergy of sales and marketing
A marketing strategy by itself is not enough. Just like the pre-marketing initiatives include thorough research and planning, there should be a follow-up after marketing with sales initiatives. Sales efforts need to be built on the brand and marketing strategy, highlighting the uniqueness of the brand and products.
The marketing team should create the toolkits required by the sales teams to nurture and close the leads.
7. Metrics and analytics
Since the marketing plan should be based on clear goals and objectives, the metrics and KPIs by which these goals need to be measured should also be set out at the start.
Analytics can be measured online, like from Google Analytics, Search Console, and all marketing software. And also offline, like ad and tactical marketing spend.
3 BIG mistakes that can ruin your marketing plan
You may have laid out all the basis of a highly effective marketing plan and are also following them closely. However, some key mistakes could stop your marketing from generating the results it ideally could.
1. Lacking a brand story
Often I meet clients who say they are ready to invest in social media and content marketing, to grow their business. All very good.
The problem starts when I ask them one simple question:
“Tell me about your brand. What’s your story?”
In other words:
- What is the promise of value you’re going to make, and why?
- How do you aim to make people’s lives better?
- What makes you unique, differentiated, powerful?
- What’s your personality?
- What are your values?
- What do you believe in? WHO are you?
So the clients explain to me in detail, for hours about the product/ service they sell, and show me a logo they got developed.
Without much thought about what the brand is, they probably simply outsourced the logo development to a designer with a brief that said: “please create a nice brand logo”. While it is inspiring to see their passion for their product, here’s the problem:
A product/ service is not a brand. And neither is a logo.A brand is a promise, an experience, a connection, a story. It is unique, it has a mission, it improves peoples' lives, in a way that others don't. It also has a specific personality, a tone of voice. #branding #brandstory… Click To Tweet
A product can have 10000000s of competitors.
A brand is more unique because it is made up of a whole lot more than just product features.
Think of it this way:
A brand = a person.A brand is a person. With a story, a personality, a set of values, certain dreams of the future, a way of connecting to others. Click To Tweet
Maybe this person has a sense of humor, or strong beliefs and convictions. Other people describe this person in a certain way, and it is very hard to find someone else who is extremely similar to this individual, in all aspects.
These would then be the brand personality, the tone of voice, the story and the uniqueness of the brand.
A corporate identity, logo = How this person would dress and move.
What colors and styles would they wear? What would their body language be like? What kind of words would they use?
So the corporate identity would be the colors of the brand, the design, the style, the overall look and feel.
Marketing messaging and communication = What this person would do and say, to achieve what he/she wants (goals).
The messaging would then be the brand and marketing messages the brand would use to communicate with their audience, which would drive growth and thus achieve the business objectives.
If you don’t know who the person is, how will you know the rest? How will you form a connection with your target customers, rather, with people you want to connect with, if you don’t know who you are and how you want to talk?
So this is the mistake you should not make:Do NOT build a corporate identity, a website, and do not do any kind of marketing BEFORE you know what your brand is. #marketingplan #marketingstrategy #branding Click To Tweet
Otherwise, your marketing and communication will not follow the basic rules of consistency that a brand should have. It will be chaotic, unclear, and all your marketing investments may not generate the ROI that they should.
Only when you have the core essence of the brand figured out, create a corporate identity that reflects it and THEN, based on your business objectives, create a website to tell the story, and build a marketing strategy and content, to communicate the value that your brand has to offer.
2. Not having a specific, targeted audience
Many entrepreneurs, and not just small business owners, are often hesitant to be selective in their target audiences. They think if they can reach their product and message to a maximum number of people, then even if a small percentage of them become customers, then it's driving maximum sales.The truth is, however, if you try to sell to everyone, no one knows whom your product/ service is for, and no one signs up for it. #branding #sales #marketing Click To Tweet
Let me ask you a question. Do you know who is the core customer of Nike?
You associate them with sports. And a lot of people do sports. But are all of them Nike's audience, whom Nike targets in their messaging?
The answer to this lies in one word: Kopernick. Rings a bell?
In 2018, Nike specifically alienated 21% of the general public with this campaign.
You would think that then obviously, their sales declined. Quite the opposite. Revenues jumped immediately by 31% after the ad released.
This is because "Nike took a strategic risk to alienate some customers in order to appeal to their core base of 18- to 29-year old males," said John Gerzema, CEO of the Harris Poll.
Check out the ad.
Kopernick took a stand against racism when he refused to stand for the US national anthem, and by choosing him as his spokesperson, Nike clearly showed which audience they were targeting. And it drove heavy business growth.
You may be thinking that it worked for Nike because it is a huge business and don't care about being targeted, they can still increase business growth.
The truth is, it works for all businesses.When you define a clear target audience and understand them deeply, your marketing plan can generate much higher revenues than when you try to target many audience groups fearing low sales. #marketingplan #marketingstrategy Click To Tweet
Marketing 101, in fact, is based on the STM principle:
1. Segmenting: Define a clear market segment
2. Targeting: Target a specific segment
3. Positioning: Develop a marketing mix for each targeted segment
This does not mean, however, that you can target only one group of people for your brand. You can create different products within your brand and have a specific target audience for each product.
Then create the messaging for them. Which brings us to the next point.
3. Having too many messages
You can have two kinds of messaging for your brand:
1. A brand message, which is your core brand promise based on your story.
2. A marketing message, which is specific to each product/ service.
And the equation is simple.One brand -> One overarching brand message One product -> ONE specific marketing message (under the umbrella of a marketing message) #brandmessage #marketingmessage Click To Tweet
Take Apple, for example.
Their brand message/ promise is 'Think different''. i.e., they promise to take unique perspectives and do things differently.
And the marketing message for their product the Apple watch?
It promises to be 'the ultimate device for a healthy life'
See how sharp and focussed they are?
Even if they have tons of brand and product features and benefits to offer, they don't overload their audience with too many messages.
For example, for the Apple watch, they don't position the watch as just a watch, they talk about health and fitness. One clear message, with lots of features.
If you try to say too much in your messaging, you simply confuse your audience, who then just turn to your competitor.
The key thing to remember to create a highly effective marketing plan is to:
Keep it simple, clear, focused, and resonate with your target audience. Then you will avoid any big mistake and your marketing will drive high ROI.
Read my post Create Your Powerful Marketing and Brand Messaging & Use Them Like a Pro to get a full understanding of how to create brand and marketing messages.
Did you make any of these mistakes in your marketing plan? How did you ensure its effectiveness? What were your learnings? Would love to hear your comments.
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