When it comes to your business, you should have a vision and a plan to support that vision. A business plan is vital to ensuring you have the proper financials and roadmap to achieve success.
A key aspect of that roadmap should be a marketing plan. Whether you wear two hats as a business owner and marketing manager or have a whole marketing team, these five steps can set you up for success.
What is the purpose of a marketing plan?
No matter your industry, there is so much competition nowadays. You need a way to stand out from the crowd. You need to build a name for your business and show people what you can do.
Marketing plans allow your company to:
- Build brand awareness
- Boost consumer engagement
- Build authenticity and trust
- Promote earned media
- Offer sales support
Related: The Importance of An Effective Marketing Strategy in Reaching Your Business Goals
Marketing plan: 5 steps to set you up for success
There are so many different types of marketing plans, but one of the most all-encompassing, successful strategies is full-funnel marketing.
Full-funnel marketing is what it sounds like — capturing the widest audience and moving them through the funnel until the end goal of making a purchase.
This article will walk you through the full-funnel process and more.
1. Examine your current situation and create goals
Before you can begin your marketing efforts, it’s important to self-reflect on your current situation through an executive summary.
Reflecting is a method to help you take a closer look at your business, its mission statement and ways to grow in that mission. In the marketing world, this is commonly called a SWOT analysis.
SWOT stands for:
SWOT is a handy acronym to help you keep track of the areas you need to identify when building your new marketing plan.
Related: Start 2022 With a SWOT Analysis
Take a look at these eight essential questions to consider when completing a SWOT analysis:
- Are you a new small business starting from scratch?
- Are you an established business that’s ready for a revamp?
- What type of buyer do you want to attract?
- What are your company’s strengths?
- How are those strengths a competitive advantage?
- What are your company’s weaknesses?
- What are your company’s opportunities for growth?
- How can you distinguish your product from what your competitors are offering?
Before you can genuinely begin an effective marketing plan, consider completing a thorough SWOT analysis. It can help you understand where you are, assist in your strategy development, and build a roadmap for where you are going.
Another big piece of your roadmap is the marketing goals you set for your business. You can also set goals for each marketing campaign. Marketing is meant to help you grow your business, so you should know how you want that growth to look.
What do you want your marketing plan to achieve? What is your marketing budget? For example, are you hoping for a 20 percent increase in sales of your new product per quarter?
Write down a short list of goals — and make them measurable, so you’ll know when you’ve achieved them.
If you need help creating your business goals, here is a primer to get you thinking:
- Specificity. You have a better chance of achieving a goal if it’s specific. A goal like “I want to raise capital” is not clear enough. However, a goal like “I want to raise capital to $10,000 by July 1” is a goal that you can truly measure.
- Optimism. Be positive when you set your goals. Use uplifting words and positive phrasing. Setting a goal saying, “I want to avoid being in the red this quarter,” is not a positive goal. On the other hand, a goal saying, “I want this business to be in the green by the end of this quarter,” is a much more positive spin that serves as an encouraging way to stay fired up.
- Realism. Although you should set goals that challenge your business, they should still be attainable. If you establish a goal to earn $100,000 a month when you’ve never made that much in even a year, that goal is unrealistic. Begin with small steps, such as increasing monthly income by 25 percent. Once your first goal is met, you can reach for larger ones.
- Short and long term. Short-term goals are attainable in a period of weeks to a year. Long-term goals can be for five, 10, or even 20 years; they should be substantially greater than short-term goals but should still be realistic.
Related: Goal Setting – Entrepreneur Small Business Encyclopedia
Remember to check in on your goals. It doesn’t work to set them and forget them. Keep them somewhere visible to remind you of your purpose every day.
Set aside time each week, month, or quarter to check in on your marketing objectives and see how you’re doing with them based on metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Your goals don’t have to be set in stone, so don’t be afraid to adjust accordingly
2. Identify your audience and build brand awareness
To build brand awareness, you should first identify your target market. You can cast a wide net at the beginning of your full-funnel marketing approach. However, that does not mean you won’t still have some direction in mind.
Business to consumer
If your business operates B2C, then you may need to make a profile of your ideal customer. This profile should include prospect demographics, including:
- Family composition
- Geographic location
Conduct market research that answers questions about the buyer persona: Are my customers conservative or innovative? Leaders or followers? Timid or aggressive? Traditional or modern? Introverted or extroverted? How often do they purchase what I offer? In what quantity?
Business to business
If your business operates B2B, you should make a profile but use slightly different categories. For B2B marketing, focus on customer segments like:
- Type of business
- Job title
- Size of business
- Geographic location
- Any other characteristics that make that business a possible prospect
Regardless of your target audience, be sure to narrowly define them in this step because it can be your guide as you plan your content strategy.
Build brand awareness
Once you have identified your target customers, you should build brand awareness through your marketing strategy. Marketing has evolved over the years, so you’ll need to research trends that might resonate with your target audience in your marketing mix.
Consider attraction marketing and digital marketing activities and strategies like:
- Blog posts and editorial content
- Gift guides and catalogs
- Social media posts
- Brand ambassadors
- Videos and podcasts
- Webinars and live content
- Pop-up events and workshops
The quality content marketing you put forth on these platforms can help boost your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and grow your overall online presence. Once you capture an audience’s attention, you can move on to the next step.
Related: Building A Social Media Strategy That Can Bolster Your Brand’s Online Presence: The How-To
3. Drive customer interest
Now that you’ve cast a wide net, it’s time to narrow the funnel. At this stage, your consumer is aware of your brand, so it’s time to drive their interest toward a specific product or a service.
One thing that may always remain true in marketing is that stories sell. Stories build brand awareness because people love them. They are a way to build relationships, find common ground, and show the consumer what your brand is all about.
When you are developing your marketing tactics with whichever methods you choose, create a narrative that shows existing and new customers why your product differs from your competitors.
Create stories that show how your product can solve a problem or fill a void. Emphasize how your company can meet customer needs and improve something in their life.
Related: How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy in 2023
4. Convert interest to purchases
Once you have the interest of your customer base, the biggest challenge comes in: conversion. Conversion is getting your customer further down the funnel from simply being interested into making a purchase.
In eCommerce, part of your marketing strategy comes from your website. When potential customers visit your online store, their shopping experience should be as smooth as possible.
To facilitate this, ensure your site is aesthetically pleasing, easy to navigate, and fully optimized. Your website should include product pages with detailed descriptions and visuals, an easy-to-use click-to-cart process, and customer service options.
5. Foster relationships to promote retention
This is the final step of the full-funnel approach, which hinges on keeping your consumer inside the funnel. While it might not sound like it, customer experience is a marketing tool.
Marketing is about getting yourself noticed and the relationship you nurture with the customer once you’ve pulled them in. To promote consumer retention, keep them engaged with your brand.
You can build loyalty by offering incentives through email marketing and other platforms. In addition, continue to tell stories that make sense for your brand and connect with your customer.
Finally, maintain a strong customer service department so that when it’s time for your customer to make a repeat purchase, they have another smooth experience.
Related: 10 Simple Ways to Improve Customer Retention Rates
How you can build a successful marketing plan
You’ve got the tools to create a successful marketing plan. Stick to the five steps, and you can make it happen.
- Examine Your Current Situation and Create Goals
- Identify Your Audience and Build Brand Awareness
- Drive Customer Interest
- Convert Interest to Purchase
- Foster Relationships to Promote Retention
Remember, the purpose of a content marketing plan is more than just putting out ads and social posts. It’s creating stories connecting with your customers and fostering lasting relationships.
Related: 10 Social Media Marketing Plans for Companies
If you’re interested in more marketing tips and strategies, explore Entrepreneur’s other professional marketing resources here.