Notes on Writing Your Marketing Plan

One of the common mistakes I see with marketing plans, or the marketing plan section of a business plan, is the order in which the writer or the business owner delineates their marketing plan. Commonly I see entrepreneurs and executives list all the ways that they can potentially market their product or service, but far too often the order of which they list these marketing efforts has no thought behind it. Granted when you are brainstorming, your focus should just be on putting out all of the ideas you have in your head on paper. But in practice, some will come before others and here are my tips on how to effectively organize the marketing plan.

Step one, brainstorm and write down every single marketing idea you have.

In this phase, you are simply writing down all of the marketing ideas you have. Maybe you have the idea to put a billboard on the highway because you are a restaurant that is right off the highway. Maybe your marketing plan includes reaching out to influencers on social media to where your clothing if you are a clothing company. Write it all down. In this phase, you just want your creative juices to flow, write down ideas as they come to your head no matter how crazy, expensive or non feasible. TV advertisements, radio advertisements, branded clothing with your logo on it, business cards, signage in front of your office or retail operation, email marketing, social media marketing, classified ads, PPC advertising online, blogging, vlogging, etc etc.

Step 2 ....

Now that you have written them down, put them in order in regards to price. Then put them in order in terms of effectiveness. If you are a start-up, you do not know what is effective or not unless you have tried it. Startups should analyze this section carefully understanding that they do not know which marketing effort will pay off yet. Startup businesses should pay close attention to which avenues are free since as a start-up you have no money yet. And if by chance you do have money, save it you're going to need it for something else. You should only invest in your business when you understand the return. Let me rephrase that. You should only invest heavily in marketing portions of your business when you understand the amount of money it will bring into your business. When you are a startup, you are moving in the dark, you do not know which marketing effort will bring about a return. It is prudent to test all free marketing avenues first and then tiptoe into paid marketing strategies. Once you have tested enough, the keyword being tested, you can double down on what works and cut out what doesn't work. This step, step 2, is all about testing. If for example you have a $10,000 budget or $100,000 budget, and you are a startup, you want to take 3% to 5% of that budget and test advertisements. Once you have tested the paid advertising strategies, remember this is after you have exhausted all three marketing strategies, you will start to see what works and what doesn't work. Then you will put another 3% to 5% into the marketing that does work and test again. You will repeat this process again and again until you know exactly how much money you are spending on marketing to acquire customers. If you follow this method, eventually you will understand your ROI (return on investment) or rate of return on your marketing spend, commonly known as your marketing budget, or what you have spent on marketing.

If you are an established business, simply double down on your marketing efforts that have worked. Your data is your best friend. Your past customers give you a profile of exactly who you should be targeting. If you feel like you have exhausted your efforts or have maximized your efforts, then begin testing new efforts. Follow the outline I just described for startups, because you are testing new marketing avenues, you do not want to throw your whole budget into a marketing avenue that you do not think or know will pay off.

Remember you are in business to make money. What you think doesn't matter. Too often than not I have had clients or fellow entrepreneurs tell me that they feel a certain way about a marketing strategy or they think it won't work. No one cares how you feel and no one cares what you think. Follow the data. If it works double down on it. If it doesn't work, double-check to make sure you actually tried and didn't just half-ass it and give up. If it truly doesn't work -- cut it out. Then go test something new. Remember when testing something new that your goal is to keep your marketing strategy live forever. This means you can't blow your whole budget in the first month. You want to make sure you have enough to keep marketing your product. But you want to make sure you give enough effort, and take enough action in your marketing strategy, to make enough sales.

Hope this helps,