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The Basics of Creating a Marketing Plan

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As a business owner, taking time out of your day to create a marketing plan might seem unimportant compared to the endless tasks on your to-do list. Most owners are so trapped in the day-to-day that they rarely take a step back to view their business on a holistic level. As a result, they lose sight of the big picture. 

I will teach you how to start to develop a digital marketing plan that takes into account the near, distant, and profitable future.

Why Digital Marketing? 

Consumers have completely changed how they consume media. Meaning that people now interact with brands, companies, and ideas in completely new ways. Today, we live online through social media, videos, entertainment, and blogs. This means that in order to achieve the results you want, consumers need to be reached on their terms. Without doing so your business might soon become forgotten in the eyes of consumers. 

Do you want to know the best part? Digital marketing processes can often be automated and done relatively inexpensively.

First Step: Know Where You Are

The first step to creating a marketing plan is to understand where you are today. If you don’t know where you are, you can’t know where you’re going. 

It is important to define and understand the following: 

  1. Your financial figures for your last fiscal year (revenue and gross profit margin)
  2. Your current customers – How old are they? Where do they live? What do they want?
  3. Current marketing efforts to reach your prospects 
  4. Current marketing budgets allocated to reach those same prospects

Second Step: Picture Success 

The next step in developing your marketing plan is to define what success looks like three years from today. Where do you want to be with your business at that time?

Complete the following statements 

Three years from now, our revenue will be ______. 

Three years from now, our profit will be ______. 

Three years from now, our gross profit percentage will be ______. 

Three years from now, our customers will be made up of______. 

Once you have completed this exercise ask yourself the same questions but for a year from now.  This format works best to ensure you are on track to achieve your long term goals.

Breaking Down Your Goals:  Brand Awareness vs Lead Generation?

As you break down your goals, think about them through two different lenses:

Lead generation and Brand Awareness. 

They might seem similar but these concepts are totally different. 

Lead Generation: is all about acquiring your next customer TODAY 

Think of lead generation as showing up for the people already looking for your product or service. Successful lead generation is all about capturing the current demand.  Right now people are searching online for what your business has to offer, but will they choose you or your competitors? Your job is to make sure that they find your website first on Google. Then once they get there you need to effectively present ideas for why they should choose your business. 

Lead generation requires a competitive mentality. Show up for them in whatever stage of the buying cycle they are in and make sure they know you are the best possible choice for them.

Brand Awareness: is creating a funnel for your customers TOMORROW

Brand awareness is the process of speaking to your future consumers. They might not have an immediate need for your product or service but they might tomorrow, next month or next year. By talking to future customers today, you create trust, familiarity, and an emotional connection between a problem and how your business can solve it. That way when customers are presented with a problem in the future they can instantly make the connection that your business offers the solution.  

Now that you understand the difference between lead generation and brand awareness and how each is important and pivotal to your long term success, you can start applying them to your goals we created in the above section. 

Now that you have taken a step back you can see the importance of building your brand to achieve your 3-year goals which would require brand awareness, but you need to make sure that you can still sustain your business today through lead generation. Every industry is different and it may take a bit of trial and error. But the important takeaway is that you need both to create a profitable business long term. 

Buyer Persona

Now that you have outlined your goals, and established a combination of brand awareness and lead generation tactics, you have one final step. Determine who it is that you are marketing your products or services to. To create an effective marketing plan, you have to determine who your most valuable customers are. You can do this by creating an ideal buyer persona. 

You can start by answering the following questions. 

How old is my target customer? 

Do they have a family?

What is their annual income?

What does my target customer do for a living?

Do they live downtown or in the suburbs?

What videos do they watch on Youtube?

Which websites do they spend time on?

Are they on social media? What channels?

We recommend asking as many questions about your target consumer until you have a very clear vision of exactly who you are marketing to. This will help frame your content and take out any guesswork. 
So there you go, you now have all of the tools you need to begin your marketing plan. This is a great exercise that will allow you to get in line with the marketing that will really begin to move the needle on your business! However, it will take time! Make sure you create a well-thought-out plan and stick with it to see the results. 

Interested in reading more on this topic? Purchase my book Click: Transform Your Business Through Digital Marketing on Amazon today.
Or 
Interested in speaking with someone on how we might be able to develop your marketing plan with you? Book a meeting with one of our talented Marketing Directors here.

Written by: Kevin Wilhelm

Kevin Wilhelm is a tenured marketing executive, having worked with hundreds of business owners on developing and executing strategic marketing plans. Co-Founder and President of Pod Marketing Inc., Kevin brings years of experience in entrepreneurship, branding, advertising, marketing and, business operations to his clients in eye care. Kevin is a consistent contributor to industry magazines and online publications while travelling across North America to speak on marketing and human resource topics for private organizations and accredited industry conferences. His experience in starting and managing high growth businesses has attributed to his overall mindset of strategic business development for the clients we work with.

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