5 Steps to a Winning Marketing Plan

Looking to improve the impact of your marketing? Start with a plan. And, if you have a plan, start by revisiting your plan. The process doesn’t have to be hard. Follow these 5 easy steps to have the right marketing plan for your business.

A Marketing Plan is Your Key to Success

Great marketing rarely happens by chance. It is the result of planning and focused effort. The foundation is a solid marketing plan that accounts for your goals and the steps you want to take to get there.

Planning may sound time-consuming and expensive. Trust me, it is neither. In fact, planning will save you time and money. It will ensure that you are focusing your marketing resources in the right places. You can also easily assess what’s working and avoid spending time on strategies that aren’t working.

A structured annual planning process is key to marketing success. This 5 step process will set you up for better marketing!

Step 1: Set Your Business Goals

As the saying goes, if you don’t know where you are headed, any route will do. To create the right marketing plan, you need to be crystal clear on what you want to accomplish. You need to direct your efforts to the right destination.

Once you know your business goals, determine the marketing goals needed to support them. How can marketing help you achieve your goals? Research shows that when an organization’s sales and marketing aligns with business goals, revenue and profits grow faster than average.

Be sure your goals are defined well enough so that you know exactly what you want to accomplish. Great goals are measurable so you can determine when you are making progress.

Step 2:  Pick the Right Tools

With your goals in mind, define the marketing efforts needed to support them. Often, this is some mix of:

  • Website and landing pages
  • Social media marketing on one or more channels
  • Email marketing
  • Leveraging external online channels like Google Business and industry directories
  • Partnerships and influencers

Picking the right channels requires you to combine your goals with a deep understanding of your customers and prospects. Where can you connect with them? What are their expectations from a business like yours?

For each channel, you need to understand the opportunities and best practices for engagement. For example, on Instagram you can have posts, stories, and reels. You can share images and videos.  Using the right hashtags is critical to be seen.

Step 3: Prioritize

Looking at the channels that can be effective for your marketing plan, determine the importance of each. Where will you devote the most resources? You can’t do it all! Marketing resources are finite, so you need to be strategic in deciding how you will commit them.

Reflect your priorities as you create the specific list of things you will do as part of your marketing plan. If email is most important, develop a calendar for how often they will be sent, the messages that will be shared, and the calls to action they will contain.

Assign the proper level of time and tasks to each marketing effort.

Step 4: Define Measurements

With a clear view of what marketing will focus on, set measurement criteria. How will you know your effort is paying off?

Measurement can be specific to an activity – the number of people who attend an event or the number of opens for an email. Measurement can also be more global – the number of sales inquiries or product sales. Often, there are several measures that will help you figure out what’s working.

With clear measurements, it becomes easy to determine if your marketing plan is working. One caveat is to be sure to take a big picture view when measuring impact. That one Facebook post may have gotten no comments or likes, but overall are you getting good mentions and engagement on Facebook?

Step 5: Create a Marketing Plan Calendar

Break your marketing plan down into the day-to-day, week-to-week actions you will take to bring it to life.

Want to send 10 emails a year? Assign dates to all the steps needed to make that happen from planning to sending to assessing results.

Your calendar should create a task list for your marketing just like any other function of your business. The right task list will keep you on track so that your plan has the best chance to have the desired impact. Ideas that are never implemented have zero chance of working!

Understand that your calendar is not set in stone. You may think March is a great time to put energy into a new marketing tactic, but it may turn out you have no time that month. That’s okay. The important thing is to move it on your calendar and not drop it altogether.

The planning process isn’t finished even after the final plan is prepared. Your plan needs to be as dynamic as your business. Changes will be needed! Be prepared to revise the plan periodically as needed.