4 Steps to Develop a Winning Marketing Plan

A marketing plan venn diagram with business icons overlaid

4 Steps to Develop a Winning Marketing Plan

By Elyse McNabb, for Edwardsturm.com.

A fairy with wings holding a glowing flower

Creating a marketing and advertising plan can seem overwhelming on a good day and virtually insurmountable on a bad day; add in the possibility of being a start up company with little to no extra cash and you may want to crawl into a corner and not come out until a magic fairy comes and fixes everything. We all live in the real world though and can’t rely on fairies, so we have to take ourselves and our companies by the boot straps, research, read and chart a course of action!

As an avid believer in the book “Now, Discover Your Strengths,” I took the Strength Finders Test and it really helped me see what I was good at, and what I needed to find outside help on; because although we’d like to do it all, we just can’t! My consultant and I sat down and worked out a 4 step approach to evaluating our marketing and advertising direction for my first 2 quarters with a meeting set up to come back and evaluate the results after that timeframe. The steps ended up being pretty effective, so I’m sharing them here.

1. Identify Your Audience

Who are you trying to sell your product or service to? Seems like a simple question, but sometimes once you start digging it becomes more complicated. In our case we wanted to market to moms and caregivers worldwide, which is a huge cohort to reach, so we had to take that group and break it down farther: what kind of moms, what kind of activities, and what is the target age of the kids that the moms are taking care of? Still a big group, but now more focused. 

A theater audience with the caption: "Can you identify your audience?"

I learned a lot on the matter from this article, which covers consulting your business plan, researching, developing a customer profile, finding out where your audience is, and finally monitoring/evolving the plan.

2. Set Your Budget

Bills of money lying on each other

This can be one of the hardest and most overwhelming steps because of the amazing, connected, digital boundless age we live in. There is no end to the number of fun, creative places to spend marketing/advertising dollars!

Our approach to budgeting wasn’t very well researched or well vetted and very quickly it got us spread too thin and low on funds with meager results. We had to set back and do better research on what we could afford to spend and then research where to spend (step 3).

As we’ve learned, when in doubt, research the experts. We used Intuit QuickBooks, which is pretty high on the food chain and has great advise. Their article, How to Create a Marketing Budget, had 3 evaluation steps that even a non-accounting minded person like me could follow. To make it even easier, you can download a free marketing budget forecast template here, or download a comprehensive marketing plan template.

3. Narrow Your Marketing Channels

We live in the digital age where there are virtually no limits to online commerce or advertising marketing reach.  There are 5 major categories of marketing channels to consider and evaluate further for your company:

1) In Person/Local

This category encompasses everything from local chambers of commerce, trade-shows, door to door or B2B encounters, networking, community involvement and outreach, and local news segments and referrals. CPCStrategy has 50 ideas for you to consider in this category.

2) Online Searches

Are you statewide, nationwide, worldwide?  Search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and the like have opportunities to create advertisements that are pay as people click based on what they are searching for.  Google has a good explanation for the PPC (pay per click) model.

This is the category that really ate most of our budget because we didn’t fully understand and evaluate what we were spending money on. Once we went back through the process and very closely defined where we wanted to display, our ROI was much better.

3) Social Media

This category is HUGE! Statista said that as of April 2016, Facebook had over 1 billion registered accounts and Instagram had over 400 million active accounts! That is a lot of potential reach and a lot of marketing dollars if you haven’t narrowed down your scope. Social media takes time and creativity to be successful on so make sure you are using your resources wisely.

Social media apps on a smartphone

4) Print Media

In the US alone, Statista estimates that there are 1,331 daily newspapers and add to that magazines, billboards and more – there are a lot of opines with print media that might be suited to your specialty. Carefully research the readership, length of the run, size of the ad, and don’t forget the cost to create the advertisement in your estimates.

5) Radio, TV, and Film

This category is most likely the most expensive, with an expansive reach and unparalleled opportunity for creativity and team collaboration in creating an attention grabbing sound bite or commercial to leave the consumer wanting more. We have not had a chance to try marketing in this category, but look forward to the day!

6) Bonus Category!

There are always new and creative out of the box solutions to getting the word out – don’t be hindered by what exists – create something new and change the world!

4. Evaluate

Take time each week, month, or quarter and asses your results, tweak, and move forward. We found that we, on one platform, were spending $22 in advertising to get a $12 sale, so we had to reevaluate what we were doing, who we were targeting, and if that was the right platform for us to be spending money on. We are 3 years down the road and are still tweaking the process as consumers change, new platforms become available, and people keep coming up with great new ideas in the bonus category!

Elyse McNabb

Elyse McNabb

Elyse McNabb is the owner of Nourish with Style. She has over 10-years industry experience and training, and specializes in creating niche markets by inventing new and exciting products.
Elyse McNabb

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