How to use a powerful marketing plan to make 2021 your best year yet

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Is this the year you’re going to make a marketing plan work for you?

The first quarter of 2021 is almost over. How did that happen?!

How would you rate your business performance so far? If you feel like you haven’t made much headway yet then DON’T panic, there’s still plenty of time to move your business forward. 

All you need is a cohesive marketing strategy.

Why Every Business Needs a Marketing Plan 

Be honest, do you have a marketing plan?

No, I’m not talking about one that exists only in your head! I mean one that you’ve spent time formulating and that you’ve committed to paper or a Google doc. 

If the answer is no, then you’re definitely NOT alone. 

The fact is, we all know how important a business plan is, but what’s forgotten time and time again is that you need a marketing strategy to bring your business plan to life.

When Should You Create a Marketing Plan 

Whenever you can!

Ok, so on paper an optimal time to create your marketing strategy is when you’re writing your overarching business plan - ideally to coincide with the start of a new financial year. 

But don’t let that put you off if you’re midway through the year. It’s NEVER too late to start the marketing plan process.

What Should a Marketing Plan Include?

According to Investopedia, a marketing plan “is an operational document that outlines an advertising strategy that an organization will implement to generate leads and reach its target market.

Sounds pretty dry, right?

But, it really doesn’t need to be technical, or complicated. For us small business owners, the marketing plan contents should cover these 3 key areas:

  1. Our business marketing goals;
  2. The strategies and activities we’re going to use to meet them;
  3. The key metrics to be tracked to see if our marketing efforts are working.

A Step By Step Guide to the Marketing Planning Process

Right, we’re getting down to brass tacks now!

Let’s talk through the steps to creating a marketing strategy that works for your business.

I like to break it into two stages:

Stage 1: Planning

1. Review your marketing activities in 2020

It’s time to look back at last year and gauge how your marketing fared. 

It was a crazy year, so you may find that your original plans went out the window. That’s totally fine, but see if you can pull out what marketing activities saw results and which didn’t. 

Let’s assume you weren’t working to a plan last year, you may be asking ‘where do I even start?’ 

Here are some (non-exhaustive!) examples of areas you could investigate:

  • Social Media: how much did you grow your social media following? Did you see an increase in engagement? What kind of posts did well? What tanked?
  • Website: how did your web traffic grow? What pages or content drove the most traffic? Where did that traffic come from?
  • Email: how much did you grow your subscriber list? Where did those subscribers opt-in? Which content/channel was most successful at growing your list? What email content does your list interact with the most? How are your open and click-through rates going?
  • Sales: where did your sales originate? Which channel saw the most conversions? How much new vs. repeat business did you see?
2. Brainstorm what you'd like to improve

Now that you have an idea of what marketing activities worked, and what didn’t, you can decide what the key activities are to carry forward into your marketing plan this year. 

For example, you may notice that Instagram didn’t see much return on your investment. So, you might decide to drop that social media channel in the coming year, to concentrate on the channels that ARE working.

3. Be clear on what your revenue goal is

It may be best to work quarter-to-quarter here. 

What’s your revenue goal for the next quarter? How many sales would it take to meet this?

4. What's your marketing budget?

How much can you afford to spend on marketing this year? 

Consider the marketing tools and programs you subscribe to and any cost of outsourcing content creation, social media management or other marketing services.

5. Set 5 marketing objectives

You know the revenue goal you’re aiming for. You know (roughly!) how many sales you need to make that happen.  

So, now it’s time to set some marketing plan objectives that will help you reach your goal. 

For example, one objective might be to generate 25 leads per week. Another might be to sell X number of programs to your email list.

6. What activities and tasks do you need to implement to achieve your top 5 marketing goals?

Now it’s time to get more specific. 

Outline each marketing objective, map out the activities required, then break down the tasks that will get you there (and that are achievable within your marketing budget!)

For example...

The objective: sell X number of programs to your email list.

Supporting activity: set up a nurturing sales email sequence to convert existing subscribers.

Supporting tasks: hire a copywriter to write the email sequence, set segments and tags in your email service provider and implement the sales sequence.  

Rinse and repeat for all the marketing objectives in your plan.

Stage 2: Measuring

In my experience, many of us will get as far as setting objectives and call the job done. 

The fact is, if you’re not measuring if your marketing objectives are being met, then you’re just wasting your time and money. 

So, for each marketing objective you’ve set, it’s important to set some key metrics to track - such as web traffic, social media engagement, email list growth - whatever makes sense for YOUR business goals. 

Decide how often you’re going to review your marketing metrics to allow you to ‘course correct’ if things are going off-plan.

 Finally, and most importantly, diarise your review sessions months in advance to make sure they actually happen!

Why Do Marketing Plans Fail?

There are a number of reasons why some business owners might feel like marketing plans ‘don’t work’:

1. They make it too complicated

The most important thing is to commit the plan to paper - be that a notebook or a Google doc. Don’t tie yourself in knots trying to make it ‘perfect’ or thinking you need an all-singing spreadsheet. Just get it done!

2. They don't implement

It’s all very well making a beautiful plan, but unless you actually go ahead and DO what you’ve planned, it’s not going to make a jot of difference to your business.

3. They don't treat it as a living document

If you don’t look at your marketing plan from one quarter to the next then you’ve wasted your time. You need to measure your results, make changes and then review again. And again. And again.

*****

The fact is, creating a marketing plan can be a daunting prospect. How do you know what to focus on? What if you commit all your resources to the wrong activities? 

I hear you. 

Enter my ‘Marketing Strategy + Plan’ one-off package. 

We jump on a 1-hour Zoom call. I help you unscramble all of your thoughts, ideas and marketing goals. I then go off to develop a customised marketing strategy for YOUR business, with a straightforward and actionable marketing plan that you can pick up and run with.

For $475 + GST it’s the perfect option when you need help but you’re not ready to commit to a monthly marketing support. 

I’d love to help you create the perfect marketing blueprint for your business. Book a free 15-min call now to see if we’d be a good fit!

About the Author Letitia Deanne

My passion is to help small business owners, just like you, to grow their business with simple and effective marketing systems that are easy to understand and maintain.

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