Marketing Plan: How To Take Over The World
A marketing plan is like your groceries list.
One does not simply go to the supermarket without a groceries list.
Unless you are Paris Hilton or a Kardashian/Jenner/spell your name with a K, of course (not you, “Carol with a K”) and you are not on a budget, you just make money simply by metabolizing oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide (cc: Sheldon Cooper).
Then, this marketing plan is not for you. Go feed your flying unicorn pack some rainbows.
Now, for the rest of us with a budget, marketing plans are the only way to map out our way in the [super]market.
This is the only way to make sure you don’t waste your budget and you actually use everything you bought and those avocados don’t go bad. Not this time. Not on your watch.
This year we take over the world
…with a groceries list. Now that I’ve talked some supermarket sense into you, let’s talk marketing plan.
What is a Marketing plan?
The smart way to making it big is to have a plan. Let’s get geeky:
The definition of a marketing plan is the orderly and structured representation of scheduled marketing actions. These refer to actions to be launched in the foreseeable future (3-5 years), in a way that fulfills the company’s potential and remains true to its corporate values, audience, and staff.
Simply put, a marketing plan is a systematic way for a company to track, measure, plan and schedule their options. In a world changing so fast, a marketing plan can get quite complicated as it brings together many different departments, approval from the Board of Directors, and so on.
A marketing plan is to be adhered to, but it is subject to change following trends or changes (e.g. in the external environment, the company, etc.)
There are two types of marketing plan; the tactical marketing plan and the strategic marketing plan. The tactical plan typically only consists of short-term plans for the upcoming year or so, whereas strategic marketing plans make up an orchestrated sum of marketing actions overarching the following three to five years.
End of geeky.
Which are the Marketing plan benefits?
Long story short, you get rich and don’t waste money, and every single penny you spend has a measured goal to achieve once invested. Thanks to a marketing plan:
You stay ahead of the curve
Owing to a marketing plan example you can ensure consistency throughout the organization, always stay sure that any emerging opportunities (or threats) will go under your microscope. This will also give you the time required to get set and meet change.
You sustain your USP
In other words, with the marketing plan at hand, you get to hold on to your competitive advantage for longer because it no longer is detached from other variables. Instead, your competitive advantage now makes an integral part of your breathing marketing plan. So, whenever one of the variables which render it unique change, it changes. Tracking changes will never be easier!
Everyone in the company shares the same vision
A marketing plan requires the involvement of all levels of management in the planning process. So, sharing a Marketing plan proposal among executives helps ensure that everyone is on the same page. Smooth communication and a common path for a cross-functional team are really essential. This will also help reduce the number of conflicts among individuals and departments.
You remain market-focused
Finance-wise, a marketing plan template has made provisions regarding the allocation of scarce resources and their rationalization and a more market-focused orientation across the organization.
Now that we got these out of the way, let’s get practical. Introducing your mission and vision.
What is a Mission statement? Why do I need a Vision statement?
Maybe you don’t need a Mission statement.
I mean, you don’t mind initiating every single new employee, introducing them to what the company stands for, what problem your business is here to solve, where you see the company in few year’s time, and inspiring them to work for an ultimate goal every other day or so, right?
I think that checking out two examples of the best mission and vision statements will help.
Here are the mission and vision examples by Google and LVMH (Louis Vuitton group of companies, sister!):
Google has the coolest mission. EVER.
When writing your mission, the difficulty lies with making it concise and descriptive enough for those who haven’t heard of your business.
Here’s how Google picked their words
Mission statement: “Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
To write your mission is to know where you are going as a company, make it specific but not limit it or restrict what your company could stand for in the future.
Google’s vision is to “provide access to the world’s information in one click”.
Now, when Google released Google Glass they were taking a step towards that direction. More than that, a pair of glasses (“goggles”) was aligned with the very core of their brand.
Here is some Parisian savoir-faire by LVMH
This is another one of my personal favorites; the mission and vision statement by LVMH.
Mission statement: “The mission of the LVMH group is to represent the most refined qualities of Western “Art de Vivre” around the world. LVMH must continue to be synonymous with both elegance and creativity. Our products, and the cultural values they embody, blend tradition and innovation, and kindle dream and fantasy.
In view of this mission, five priorities reflect the fundamental values shared by all Group stakeholders:
– Be creative and innovate
– Aim for product excellence
– Bolster the image of our brands with passionate determination
– Act as entrepreneurs
– Strive to be the best in all we do.”
I really don’t know if I could take a word out of this mission statement or even replace one word. Of course, knowing the brand’s portfolio and the brand value the group of companies has established over these years does help to make this mission statement a lot more powerful than it would be for another company just starting out. This is due to the brand perception and, well, they have earned it!
With regard to the Vision statement of LVMH this is what I found:
“LVMH has successfully preserved a family spirit that places priority on long-term vision. The Group’s vocation is to ensure the development of each of its Houses while respecting their identities and their autonomy, providing the resources needed to create, produce and market their products and services through carefully selected channels.
The three fundamental values articulated by Bernard Arnault are shared by every member of LVMH. These three imperatives inspire excellence and constitute the pillars of our performance and long-term success.”
Now go back to your own mission and vision statements and make them as good.
How to write your mission and vision statement
First, the facts:
Your mission is the pain your business is here to cover for.
Express it as a solution, use words that show the benefit your business is providing.
Your vision is how you take this solution you are currently offering to the next level in the future.
Remember to be concise and inspirational. The more clearly and eloquently you articulate your vision the more highly you will engage your employees in the vision.
Oh, and don’t be lazy. You know you won’t get it right the first time; you’ll need to write it a number of times. Ask the employees who have been with you the longest to chip in. A/B test with new employees and with your website visitors. Refine. Repeat as necessary.
Next up, your corporate values.
Why your company’s value system is your strongest wealth indicator
Your choice of company values serves as the central pillar of everything you do. Your employees will, in turn, instill these values in everything they do, from designing the product/service, to marketing it, to improving the user experience.
Why are they your company’s wealth indicator?
Because they guarantee your stay true to your promise towards your staff and customers. To stay true is to be consistent with what you set out to do in the first place.
Your company’s value system shows what you value more, your priorities; is that preservation of tradition? Is it the protection of the environment through the development of sustainable products? Or is it the democratization of a high-end product or service by offering a radical alternative?
Your value system could stand for a number of things. And while you could have some values in common with other companies, you should have a value mix that is unique to your business.
Now that values are said and done, here come the corporate objectives.
Corporate objectives are the business way to say “#GOALS”
You’ve earned it; you did the writing part, mission, vision, values, now it’s time to be #goals.
- Setting your corporate objective is to determine you are in it to win it (i.e. profitability) or be the market leader, provide better customer service, and so on.
- Here you can add the business boundaries you expect to come up against: R&D expenses, distribution channels, personnel training, social responsibility aspects, corporate image, etc.
Once you do that, it’s the perfect lead-in for your marketing audit.
What is a Marketing audit?
The marketing audit is the evaluation of the internal and external environment. The objective is to adapt your newly-set corporate objectives so as to emerge with an actionable plan.
Finding the market to be rich in.
Getting started with Market Research
Find below everything you will need to draft the best Marketing plan even Gary Vee would be envious of.
You can’t possibly set out to start a successful business and marketing plan without running a quick market audit.
Easy marketability is a thing of the past.
Therefore, expecting to ride a tidal wave of growth might not be very realistic, unless your industry is yet to be disrupted.
In an increasingly saturated market you need to make sure you are more disciplined than a 5-year-old at Disneyland.
Know your Kryptonite in a target market: PESTEL analysis
Here is an important aspect to consider every time – or maybe six aspects: it’s called PESTEL and stands for the political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and legal aspect of the target market. A few years back it used to be just PEST analysis, but recently, there has been increasing pressure to upgrade with Environmental and Legal aspects as well.
- The political environment of your business plays an important role in your company’s well-being. For example, an unstable political system could be the cause of changing circumstances, thus a varying purchasing power of consumers. Other variables influenced by the political environment are trade restrictions or the extent to which legislation is passed.
- A market’s economic environment is the most direct influence of a business’ performance. Economic pointers such as economic growth, exchange rates, inflation or consumers’ purchasing power, etc.
- The analysis of the social environment helps to anticipate the circumstances and mode of operation in one country. In other words, social unrest in a target market might influence the market attractiveness.
- As for the technological context of a market, you need to find out whether it is ready for your product.
- Environmental issues refer to ethically-sourced products, sustainable companies, or carbon footprint guidelines. These must be preserved so as for companies to thrive and for consumers to accept them.
- Legal factors may refer to anything from equal opportunities in a society to advertising guidelines and standards to consumer rights or product label design.
No, STP doesn’t stand for “Spill The Paint”
Spill painting is not easy, I’m telling you.
Thankfully, our Marketing strategy requires the STP method as in the Segmentation-Targeting-Positioning triptych.
It is essential to plan our marketing actions because it will guarantee the future of our business. HALLELUJAH.
Segmentation: Market and customer segmentation occur as a result of filters that marketers apply across a market in order to discover the more relevant segments and potential customers.
Targeting: Evaluate the attractiveness of the customer segments and the projected commercial success. Choosing your segments wisely is really important. One segment might be more financially stable than another at the given moment in time, but maybe in a few months’ or years’ time this segment changes. We need to anticipate where our customers are and customize our product and communication accordingly.
Positioning: This is a strategic decision and process carried out by a brand. It is concerned with associating the brand with a particular perception in consumers’ minds. The objective of this stage is to convey the product’s differentiation from the competition in a rational, not an emotional way (i.e. branding).
Say hello to your very own …SWOT team
Similar to PESTEL analysis, SWOT analysis goes beyond the external environment of the business and holistically examines the internal environment, too.
Internal characteristics of the company
Strengths – refer to the strengths of the product or service over those of the competitors. Writing these down and finding a way to build up on them and improve them further still is essential.
Weaknesses – refer to the room for improvement and progress for our product. With every new competitor, this list could change.
External environment of the company
Opportunities could refer to anything from being the right product in the right market at the right time, or a technological advancement that could help lower your production costs, etc.
Threats are a concise way to bring in everything your PESTEL analysis showed, as well as market trends, etc.
USP is like UPS… in that it helps you deliver more packages
Your eshop/business/service needs a Unique Selling Proposition to prove it is different from the products in the same category.
In an abrasive environment such as today’s, you need to establish your uniqueness in a way that is memorable and emphasized throughout your ads.
To draft your USP (and later submit it with your creative brief) you should also bring in what you want your USP to be in the future.
You don’t want to be stuck with a dated USP.
Think about your ideal customer
In a marketing plan template we expect to see examples of buyer personas.
A buyer persona is the ideal customer for our business.
Much more than “My ideal customer is devastatingly rich and needs to buy my product in bulk every other day” (really, how niche is that?), a lot more research and thinking goes into a buyer persona.
Set realistic objectives so that cousin Joe doesn’t get off on your failure
I mean, that guy’s never amounted to anything. But he’ll jump at the opportunity to make fun of you at the Thanksgiving dinner in front of everyone.
When setting Marketing objectives, you need to keep in mind that there is no proportional relationship between the budget you spend and the goal you achieve.
For instance, if a total budget of $3m got you 30% increase in traffic, does not guarantee that $6m will get you twice as much.
In other words, when setting goals, in order to take into consideration the underlying variables which you might otherwise miss, go for an overarching goal such as “Be a leader in the market in 2 years’ time”.
Essentially, this would require on your behalf to meet the demands of the market and the sales forecast, that is to say, to be able to anticipate where the market is going in the coming year and be there.
Suppose the market is experiencing an upward trend, and to be the market leader there would be a subsequent 10% increase requirement made on your part.
Estimating the budget to put your brand ahead of your competitors and increase your revenue is a cross-functional action that requires careful investigation.
Have a plan B; all cool heroes have one
Is there a plan B, C, and Z?
As competition crops up, you must be prepared to change your marketing objectives, or better, to adapt them to the new circumstances.
Given that pressure does not constitute the ideal circumstances for making a decision, it is best you have your own list of ideas and actions to take.
I like to have a set of alternative plans, in case let’s say one of our top 5 competitors changes their pricing or in case they start developing the features we already have in place.
This means that I keep separate records of these ideas and fill them in at every given chance. Better safe than sorry.
So, what if your current marketing objectives are, say, to increase Facebook following, boost conversions, lower production costs, and a new competitor offers a product that is the same quality as yours for a third of the price?
You’ll need to focus on branding your product’s USPs and spend some of your budget communicating that, since it would be a really bad idea to reposition your brand at that moment.
You survived the first part of the trilogy. Now let’s stretch that brain of yours some more.
Cooking with the Rookie: The 2nd phase of Taking over the world
All Marketing Mix variables interact.
Traditionally we’ve learned that marketing corresponds to all marketing actions relating to product place price and promotion. And it makes perfect sense:
- The product refers to designing your product and its characteristics based on your audience and its needs, compared to the competition, the needs of the market, and so on.
- Price is about choosing a price that is affordable by your target audience, can guarantee your company’s long-term sustainability, ability to match the advertising spending of your competitors, and psychologically priced so that it will encourage people to shop more, but also allow marketers to make discounts and still keep the brand sustainable.
- Place, as in deciding what the best place to sell your product is, how many resellers they should be in every area, and so on. In other words, if you are starting a chocolatier shop at a “diabolical place” to do business from in Scotland, chances are you’ll need a real tear-down by Dragon’s Den investors to move people.
- Promotion, regarding the way you choose to market your product and communicate the message every time, the number of ads you choose to put every quarter, the channels you choose to launch your marketing in, the content you create for each of these channels.
Beyond the traditional Marketing Mix – Meet the extended Marketing definition
Packaging is considered to be the fifth P of the Marketing Mix.
I cannot help but sound biased here but, as a person who has written a 200-page book on Packaging, I cannot overstate its importance for whether your product leaves the shelf or not.
One of the things I like to say is that we look at the inside of a gift with the look we got from the wrapping paper.
If you are taking a long-term approach for your product, packaging should be one of the most important variables to look at and budget for before you begin.
Also, it might be of interest to you that Packaging could be the reason why your brand becomes viral.
The sixth P stands for people as in the people who represent your business and what it stands for.
If you own a physical store, it’s the people who say good morning to your customers, the person cleaning your displays and store, and so on; everyone contributes to your customers becoming regulars and from there becoming brand loyal or brand evangelists.
So, this respect should go both ways: In the same way that you respect and honor the people who work for you and hold the business while you are not there, they should respect the hard work that you’ve put in this business and run it successfully the way you do.
If your business is a service then you should keep in mind that all services are faced with 4 major challenges, namely: heterogeneity, perishability, inseparability, and intangibility.
This means that heterogeneity needs you to have ensured that however many employees of yours many have to help out a customer. The latter’s experience will be smooth and flawless.
Perishability is that if you own a massage store then you will need to deliver a designated number of massages every month so that you get your money’s worth for your employees. However, if that number of massages does not go away then you will have lost an amount of money which cannot be returned, ergo perished.
Inseparability occurs when your service cannot be experienced anywhere else but in the premises of your business. This could be the case with the bank, or the massage store, for example. With e-banking, however, this aspect of challenges associated with services has been tackled.
Intangibility occurs when you pay for a service and get nothing tangible, such as yoga classes, traveling abroad, banking services, etc. To make up for this, yoga classes give out membership cards, traveling agencies give out print ticket holders, banks give out passbooks, and so on and so forth.
Life cycle analysis
Last, life cycle analysis is to estimate the life cycle of your product or service in a way that helps you understand how your average customer experiences your offering.
By understanding their behavior you will be able to design a better product extension or brand extension.
Knowing this will also inform the sizes of your product that you have available for selling or the pricing itself.
For example, suppose you notice that your product lasts for a month or two to your average user and you’ve priced it as if the repeat purchase is going to occur twice every month.
This is an indication that maybe your business is not sustainable and you will break even in two years, that is, if you last that long.
“Marketing objectives” is all about making it first to the cheese counter
Mapping your journey is essential for the Marketing plan recipe we are working on.
Before we begin, we must set out our plan and realistic objectives for the coming year, along with a provision for the years to come.
The way to talk about goal-setting in marketing plan would be in terms of benefit sought:
Brand awareness and brand recall
If you are looking to increase brand awareness and brand recall across your audience, set out a plan that integrates the marketing channels which are bound to prove the most useful to you in the process.
For example, if you own a fashion e-commerce store, one way to go about this is to launch a campaign that is logo-heavy and brand identity charged so as to make your audience more familiar with the brand.
On a first level, this occurs subliminally and rather unconsciously. As we move further along, your audience is being trained (on its own) to recognise your branding, brand identity, logo, and so on.
This might take a little more budget to achieve, with simultaneous campaigns run across channels: for instance, YouTube, Facebook and lookalike audiences, and so on.
Do make sure your logo is in as many of your posts as possible, make your name more memorable by incorporating a pun of sorts which will encourage recall, or add a very characteristic jingle to your brand, which is always bound to reinforce brand associations between your business and the intended feeling you wish to elicit.
Giving your conversions a helping hand also relies greatly to the industry you are in. This means that you may also need to consider satellite variables which play a role in your conversion rate.
For example, will your conversions occur as a function of increasing your sales manpower? Will it be a matter of automating certain aspects of your business?
For instance, conversational marketing platforms can help delegate certain tasks before they start piling up in your inboxes. Another idea is to automate certain tasks with Webhooks or your CRM system.
If you own a fashion eshop, you can set up email marketing automated drip campaigns and send Upselling/Cross-selling campaigns, Website re-engagement campaigns, and so on.
Increase website traffic
This one is rather an ongoing task on your website, at least it should be. You can’t simply rely on your existing traffic, you can’t rest on your laurels, however comfortable they are.
You need new website traffic generated regularly, which is then fed into your email marketing automation campaigns, your social media network, and so on.
Once you set up this schedule, remember to track its progress and revise it on the reg.
Increase user engagement
To get your users to engage with your brand, you really need to establish a culture that inspires just that with your audience.
You need to speak their language and share their interests (buyer personas will come in really handy here). User engagement does not happen overnight; it is gradually built over time and once achieved, it’s merely a state, so you really need to maintain that throughout.
Your every post and marketing action will be leading to interaction, but should not do so directly every time, or it will soon wear your audience out.
For instance, ending every post with “What would you do?” or “Have you ever seen…? Let us know in the comments section”, etc, could be a good tactic… if you don’t overdo it.
Increase brand loyalty
Suppose you’ve been many years in the industry and more competitors are mushrooming every year.
Worse, yours is a commodity product therefore you cannot differentiate your product. By identifying this challenge in your market, it is important to aim at increasing brand loyalty.
To achieve this, focus on improving your user experience, rewarding your most frequent shoppers thus reinforcing their behavior, sending customers discounts on their most frequently viewed or purchased products (don’t know how to do that? Book a demo with one of our representatives here).
Increase customer base
Bringing in more customers (or paying customers if you offer a free plan as well) goes under lead generation and lead nurturing.
To achieve that, there is a Marketing Calendar worksheet bundle to help you organize your marketing actions and day-to-day tasks and operations for the new year!
By using the sheets you will be able to easily track, monitor, scan, organize, review, and rearrange your tasks without leaving anything behind! (The perks of having a master procrastinator prepare these worksheets is that everything has been considered, even writer’s block. On the downside, we published the worksheets mid-December, so…yeah. That’s on me, too.)
Increase revenue (net price received)
To increase your revenue, you can aim at a number of things, such as:
- increasing the average order value per customer
- entering a new market
- extending your current product line
- achieving economies of scale by producing under a white label
- checking your price elasticity across your target market and highlighting some added benefits, accordingly. This could help increase the perceived value of your products by upgrading your offering and differentiate it from your competition.
It all really depends on the industry you are in. So, here’s some inspiration and take it from here.
Increase profit (e.g. via ROI, ROS, SVA)
The next years could be all about increasing your return on investment, return on sales, shareholder value added, etc. Choosing what the main priority for your company is, is of the essence at this time in year.
This could be another marketing objective for your business, whether it refers to production costs or automating certain processes so as to increase productivity in your team and put your manpower to better use.
Decrease ecological footprint (environmental impact)
With a growing percentage of environmentally-conscious consumers, choosing to protect your impact on the environment by creating fully recyclable (or biodegradable, better yet) packaging could be your differentiation factor.
You’re gonna love what’s up next.
It’s Show Time: Meet IMC, the Cool Kid of the Block
If you haven’t met before, the Integrated Marketing Communications plan (IMC) is that fancy pantsy spreadsheet. It shows the exact duration of every one of your marketing actions. It’s like you are the director of a scene lasting an entire year.
So, be prepared to say “Action” at the top of your voice. And when you do, what happens?
What will be set in motion? Who will do what? For how long? Will the kids in the scene run around throughout the play? Or will they stand up and start running during intervals? Will they just run on cue, depending on what the audience seems to be enjoying or not?
Before you do anything, be sure to run a site-wide audit. Optimize your website pages and don’t forget to optimize your landing pages for conversion. Otherwise, everything that follows will turn into useless spells.
Define your audience
If you were to explain what you do as a marketer to a 5-year-old and a grown man/woman, would you do it in the same way? Would it take the same amount of time? Would you use the exact same words? You would probably use some examples or analogies, but different ones in each case. That’s called essential intelligence and also goes by “defining your audience”.
It’s the most important step of the process, second only to “What is your goal?”.
So, once you articulate your goal, you define your audience. This will help you choose the platform to advertise on so as to reach the audience more easily, the language to use in order to craft a message that feels personal and natural to the audience, and to stay relevant, that is to talk about what your primary audience is interested in.
How your Advertising mix can do the trick
First, let’s decide what your advertising mix will look like. You have a lot of options there, so what I like to do is start with the ideal version of the Advertising mix I would like to have for the coming year.
Regardless of the available budget, I always prefer to see what I want to do and then what I can do. Most of the time I can come up with an alternative plan that will make up for what I can’t do, a little guerrilla of a tactic, but works like a charm.
Advertising could be anything from Email Marketing and Automations (wink wink), Print ads, Radio or TV commercials, and Social media planning and ads. Yep, that’s a lot.
I’ll be starting with the more friendly-priced options, starting with what can guarantee consistent presence throughout the year.
Then, I correlate that to what worked for us the previous year and what the market trends are showing. For the latter I will be doing my fair share of research online, some following the respective hashtags on Linkedin, pick my favorite bloggers’ brains, look up Google trends in the target markets I’m interested, and so on.
Before I shortlist my advertising options, I need to pick the goal each of the aforementioned media does a better job at achieving.
So, what is my number one goal? Establish an online presence? Increase average order value? Remain a top-of-mind choice? Outdo my competition? Establish my USP? Increase brand loyalty?
Most of the above can be achieved with email marketing and social media ads.
Why Email Marketing is the go-to tool for marketers:
- It is targeted because it “works” with data your consumers have provided willingly and is not intrusive like Facebook or Instagram ads, while it only costs a fraction of the average social media budget.
- Email Marketing has a return on investment equal to 1:40; for every pound you spend, you get 40 pounds in return.
- Marketing Automations take over the mundane and repetitive day-to-day tasks such as Thank-You emails, Welcome emails, and so on. At the same time, Automations help with automatic delegation of requests to the right people, thus improving response times and enhancing customer experience.
Automate your work: Set it and forget it
For instance, as soon as someone signs up on our platform, they get an email welcoming them to our service. A few minutes later they get an email describing what they can do on the platform and they are invited to book a live demo with one of our representatives. Then, they are shown examples of other users and how they achieved their goals (case studies), and so on.
Lead your customers further down the funnel with personalization, minus the effort. Check out these 10 amazing examples of drip campaigns.
Beef up consistency and brand loyalty
Putting your subscribers under your spell only takes an automated email; with Happy Birthday drip campaigns you can rest assured that your subscribers feel valued and that your brand remains top of mind. Couple these with Loyalty campaigns which reward frequent shoppers or VIP customers, and you got a checkmate in two moves.
Get more conversions without breaking a sweat
One of the preset campaigns we pride ourselves in, here at Moosend, is that of Weather-based product recommendations. You can have advanced, weather-based emails shooting out when the weather is sunny or rainy, making spot-on product recommendations (“Hey Danny, quite hot, innit? Here’s a USB Fan!”).
Apparently, we didn’t jump to weather-based drip campaigns; we designed a bundle of Recipes to really raise the bar here.
Turn up user engagement a notch or two
Every time you run campaigns (online or offline) potential customers will visit your e-commerce store or website. If they leave empty-handed, your ad spendings will go to waste.
But you can get multiple times your money’s worth by setting up website tracking and inviting users to sign up for your newsletter through a simple pop-up.
This will help our AI systems identify them as unique visitors and will reach out to them every time you run a re-engagement campaign to lure them back with a nice and warm discount.
Why Digital Communications deserve a digital marketing plan of their own
One of the most common ways to drive new traffic to your website is through Facebook ads (possibly with some help from Instagram ads or LinkedIn ads, whichever matches your brand personality).
With video marketing becoming more and more powerful every day, Facebook and Instagram are emerging as virtually the only two fully exploitable networks for marketers.
This is your strongest tool right now, and it is important that you make the most of its available data and advanced tools. Create Custom Audiences using your Mailing lists and run campaigns. Go bigger by creating Lookalike Audiences automatically and thus enhance your performance. You’ll find more information in our Marketing Calendar.
Instagram is the new, up-and-coming Facebook. Remember to grow your account organically and not buy followers. Create original content, consider video content, interact with users. One of my tried-and-tested practices on Instagram is to like your followers and other users’ photos. Always follow users back because the algorithm rewards you for staying active. Shedding users regularly might not be too helpful.
Twitter is particularly useful for commentary on trending topics in a way that is fresh and sassy. Not exactly the ideal place to build your revenue but a good place to start earning your brand some social credit.
With Linkedin your tasks are twofold: one is your company’s Linkedin page and the other one is your own. Your personal branding does not stop when you launch your business idea; it escalates. Stay consistent in everything you do.
Zest.is is a relatively new hub for content marketers. If you’ve published a new article, you can share it as a suggestion on Zest.is and, once approved by administrators there, it will be shared across other marketers who are looking into the #specifictopic you have submitted.
Growthhackers is a community where you can connect with more marketers and exchange ideas on original content that is shared on the platform- this is a great networking tool, as well.
Reddit requires no introduction; the highly-engaged and high-standard sub-reddits are an exciting exploration space. Discover unique content and interact with radical professionals.
Other networks include Medium, Vero, Pinterest, Tumblr, and so on. Other ways include referrals, affiliate marketing, and Google ads:
Referral systems, such as Maitre, are an automated way to launch viral contests; essentially, by way of gamification, you reward users for sharing your contest with their friends or for tagging them, by granting them more entries for the competition or early access to your product/service, a discount, etc.
Affiliate marketing is a great way to let your customers do the selling for you. They say that there is no better way to promote a product or service than word of mouth.
Well, affiliate marketing is a unique combo of word of mouth marketing and referral marketing.
The awesome thing about finding the best affiliate marketing is that it enables you to enjoy multiple times the benefits of closing deals by employing the same number of salespeople.
Your affiliates are only paid if their leads convert within a designated period and if so, you get to keep 70-80% of the amount and the affiliate gets a 20-30% commission.
Google Ads is a chapter in and of itself, so it cannot be sufficiently covered in a couple of lines. It is arguably a complicated procedure the usefulness of which has been questioned from time to time in terms of time required to master the technique and final results.
Designing your strategy on any of these networks requires consistent content creation of high quality.
This means that your business could use a helping hand from influencers with proven authority in your industry and their own engaged audience.
This way, a collaboration with them will be successful and effective at adding value to your business.
In the same category, you can explore other options such as endorsers, that is, collaborating with celebrities for product placement or synergies with other brands which share the same core values as your business.
Your Sales Promotions are so much more than just a pretty face
When are you doing your sales promotions and discounting in the year? Do you follow the industry dates alone?
For instance, if you are in e-commerce, there are certain days you can hardly get past, such as Black Friday or summer sales.
If all your competitors are joining in, chances are you probably will, too.
Marking these days on your IMC plan helps you set up the social media and other planning ahead of time with posts, offers, campaigns, etc.
Corporate Social Responsibility is not just for Coca-Cola
You don’t need to earn millions before you help others.
For a thriving business, giving back to the community should be at the heart of what it does.
Whether it is in the form of sponsoring an athlete or an event (e.g. a Marathon), it shows what this business stands for and that it is not sheerly profit-oriented.
Finding a cause that your business could stand behind and support in a consistent way is of the essence; discover an NGO which is aligned with your branding and core values.
If I may add a personal comment, anything that goes under “part of the proceeds goes to” would not suffice- as a consumer, I find this rather vague and unclear.
Your support could be in kind or through volunteering, even synergizing with an NGO for special occasions in the year (e.g. Christmas), but it should always be there.
It’s like becoming a parent to that NGO or cause in general.
So, my advice would be to come to an agreement with the representatives in any case so as to have an evolving relationship with the cause/NGO and support in more and better ways.
Last, but not least, it is important to note that CSR can serve as a differentiating factor for commodity products!
Set Sales and set sail
OK, I get that, maybe this is not entirely your task, but it’s essential that Sales and Marketing have some common goal-setting sessions and alignment.
After all, it is salespeople who take on the personal selling task and they must be as updated as possible.
Number of salespeople required
Of course, you will know better the number of salespeople you will be needing. If you are just starting out, here is one thing you could consider; if 4 salespeople can bring in X revenue, it doesn’t mean that 8 of them will bring in 2X revenue.
You see, past a certain point, sales do not increase proportionately to the number of people working on the deals, and things become more complicated as one market gets saturated faster.
You should choose a number of salespeople that brings in the necessary amount of money and that still allows you to break even, making it thus a worthwhile investment for you.
Training your salespeople
This remains key to building brand equity and brand loyalty and taking the long-term approach
What remains of the essence here is to remember that it is your salespeople who communicate directly to your clients if you are in B2B and that it is Sales who should be adding to brand loyalty.
Establishing their pitch adds to the branding
Closing the sale goes far beyond incoming revenue; sales must be there to reassure the newly-turned customers that their choice was a good one so that the stage of cognitive dissonance is overcome with instantly and the clients do not experience uncertainty.
Pricing comes into play
Your brand’s pricing says a lot about where your brand stands in the ocean of brands. It helps position your brand and differentiate from other competitors since pricing can serve as a differentiating factor per se.
Discounting as part of your branding
Discounting is no random act of kindness, instead, it is a scheduled plan with measurable results against preset objectives to estimate the performance and efficiency of campaigns launched.
More specifically, with regard to discounting, there are regular discounts, such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, summer sales, Christmas sales, and so on.
Then, there are regional sales, such as Boxing day to mid-January in the UK.
And of course, there are industry-specific discounts, such as National Doughnut day- if you run a doughnut place, this will be a great opportunity for a get-together.
The problem with small businesses is that they often lack the resources to estimate their pricing in such a way so that they remain sustainable and manage to develop.
To save you an entire book chapter on this, here is a quick real-life experience from my life before Moosend:
I remember working for this small business and the founder only knew that in order to be profitable he would have to sell beyond a certain pricing point.
But they hadn’t considered so many variables.
Was pricing going to differentiate our brand?
Could pricing account for inflation or accommodate discounts for bulk buying, negotiate other prices or take into account high shipping fees?
Here is an entirely new chapter that neither the founder nor the highly experienced (with more than 20 years of expertise in the field) Chemist saw coming; products were bound by MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) documents which were required for cosmetics to board a plane.
But when the Eau de parfum came out (see alcohol-based, ergo inflammable), no MSDS was enough and even more documents were required. These cost extra to get and of course increased the total cost of transportation via airplane. As a result, the company had to absorb these price changes so that the end user wouldn’t have their experience compromised.
Another aspect that no accountant could have foreseen was that pricing means positioning, but positioning means different means of advertising in every tier.
For example, you may have chosen to be upper-end of the market but if you choose to advertise on Facebook or Instagram, you might never make headlines.
As for low-end users, you won’t be able to outperform your competition and you will definitely be outspent in the end.
Indicatively, other pointers to look up further are the following:
- Inflation (absorbing tax increases or not, etc.)
- Logistics and distribution channel
- Being an international seller comes with inventory costs or higher shipping fees
- Customer journey & Customer experience
- After-sales service
The entire marketing plan overview with its main elements is in this article.
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