All too often when business owners turn to us they have already attempted to manage their digital marketing on their own with little success. This biggest thing these businesses all have in common: they jumped head first into their digital marketing without first developing a concrete plan backed up by careful research. Proceeding without a marketing plan is like heading on a road trip without a map (or GPS) – sometimes you wind up somewhere incredible, but more often than not you find yourself lost and unsure of how to get back on the right path. That’s why the first thing we do after an intake meeting with a new client, whether we’ll be carrying out their marketing or giving them guidance on doing it themselves, is develop a marketing strategy and plan.
The Anatomy of a Marketing Strategy
If your plan is the feet of your digital marketing, your strategy is the head; the feet get you to where you want to go, but the head tells you where you’re going and why you want to go there in the first place! There are two main components of a marketing strategy that should be included whether you are simply planning your approach to Facebook or you’re addressing your entire digital marketing landscape: your message and your goals.
Your message is your focus, based on your company’s overall mission statement, and will be used for all of your digital communications. Writing out your message communicates to your staff the sentiment that you are trying to convey to your customers. While you may not explicitly share this message with your customers, every eblast you send and article you tweet should align with your message.
Though this may seem obvious, business owners often miss this important step or simply set a vague goal like, “I want to grow my business.” In order to be effective, your goals must be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound. Thus, you must identify your specific goal, such as increasing your web leads by 5%, determine how you will measure that goal, and set a time by which your goal should be attained. Also ask yourself, “Is it reasonable to believe I can achieve this goal in this time frame?” If you’d like to increase your web orders by 50% in the next week, chances are the answer is no and you should set a more attainable goal.
Laying Out Your Marketing Plan
The elements of your plan will be determined by your goals, but there are a few pieces that should be included in any marketing plan.
Audiences You’re Targeting:
Within your plan, you should first establish the audiences that you would like to target. While you may select multiple groups, they should be well researched and specific. Classify age, gender, geographic location, occupation and lifestyle markers of individuals who are most likely to benefit from your product or services.
Digital Marketing Tools:
Next you should select the digital marketing tools that will align with your audiences and help you reach your goals. For instance, if you are looking to gain exposure on social media, but you target higher level executives, you should choose LinkedIn as your primary social platform. You may also want to consider using sponsored content on sites like Forbes. Overall, the tools that you select will be dependent on your goals and audiences. Don’t try and make a tool fit your digital marketing plan if it doesn’t align just because it’s new or trendy.
Create a Calendar:
As we mentioned above, your goals should be time-bound. Thus your plan should lay out the steps you will take to reach your goal and when you will take them. If you are simply laying out your approach to social media, you’ll need to identify which days of the week and time of the day you will be posting on each social platform. If you’re working on a full digital marketing plan, you’ll want to designate how frequently you will be posting blogs, sending eblasts, creating YouTube videos, submitting press releases and so on.
Metrics and Monitoring:
As we stated above, your goals should be measurable. Thus, your plan should identify how you will measure them. Whether you simply state that you will take stock of the number of web leads you get each week, or researching and choosing tools to measure your search engine ranking, you should list your metrics in your plan, as well as how often you will be checking them.
Whether you’re working with an external agency or handling it in house, it is imperative to give your digital marketing direction with a strategy and a plan. If you need help carrying out your digital marketing or you’d simply like some guidance putting together your plan, reach out. We’d love to help you on your journey.