If you had to pick one of the following to describe your marketing plan, which would you select?
- A well-thought-out, fully-integrated, and coherent document that links together your marketing and communication campaigns for all audiences (both internal and external) across all distribution channels including advertising, social media, email, websites, public relations, blogs, sales support materials and more.
- A document that lists out your marketing campaigns along with calendars of all the deliverables in each distribution channel (i.e.: an advertising calendar, social media calendar, editorial calendar, media plan, etc.)
- A pile of papers on your desk along with spreadsheets and documents stored on your computer that makes sense to you and maybe a few members of your team.
If you're like most marketers these days, you probably chose number two. Marketers have made strides to move planning from making sense out of random marketing clutter (choice three) to organized campaign and distribution calendars (choice two). But comprehensive, coherent marketing plans (choice one) seem like a far-off goal for most.
But the senior executives most marketers report to are simply not satisfied with calendars. They want to understand all the initiatives that their marketing dollars are paying for and have a clear picture of how they will impact end-users and drive activity, especially sales.
Here are three things you can do to develop a fully integrated marketing plan that will satisfy your leaders -- and make doing your job easier.
1. Think like an executive, not a marketer. Most marketers create plans that are designed to help them get their jobs done. That's why most typical marketing plans include:
- An overview of each campaign, target audiences and key messages
- A complete list of tactics for each campaign
- Calendars for each media distribution channel.
This is a smart and sensible approach for marketing employees to take because each of these things can be used to plan campaigns and ensure they stay on track. They include valuable information that can serve as -- or feed into -- a project plan.
But that's not what the chief marketing officers and other executives at most organizations are looking for. They need a document that can help them understand what their marketing dollars are buying and explain those things to the CEO, CFO and members of the board.
The first thing you can do to improve your marketing plan is to sit down with your marketing leadership and discuss how they expect to use and deliver your marketing plan -- and the people they will deliver it to. Understanding the ultimate end-user and their needs will help you and your team craft a more useful and meaningful plan.
2. Start with a story, not scraps of paper. Many people begin building a plan with a mass of documents -- demographic information, concepts, messages, calendars -- that they attempt to make sense of. Try something different next time: think about the story you want your plan to tell and then use your documents to support that story.
This approach will make your plan easier to understand -- and far more powerful when delivered. After all, your marketing plan should be the story about all the great things you and your team are working on to drive business. It deserves to be as well-crafted as your ads, website and other marketing materials.
3. Plan with the consumer in mind. Why not develop your marketing plan based on your consumers and customers? It could track the different journeys all your consumer segments can take. Using this approach will make your plan seem less disparate and scattered. It will show how your messages and calls to action evolve as consumers move through different media channels on the way connecting with your company or purchasing a product or service.
Another good thing about this approach is that it will force you to link together all your initiatives into end-to-end stories. And this story-telling approach can help reveal disconnects in your plan that a campaign- or media-centered approach cannot.
Remember: A coherent marketing plan does not eliminate the tactical materials and calendars you find valuable for campaign planning. They simply become part of the appendix or documentation that supports your higher-level thinking.
Not sure how to get started? Then consider connecting with an agency that has been developing complex -- yet highly coherent, understandable and effective -- strategic marketing plans for financial firms large and small for more than 35 years. Agency professionals can work with you to:
- Define your sales and marketing goals
- Understand your target audiences
- Consider different messages and creative approaches
- Review appropriate media channels
- Plan for metrics and reporting
- And much more.
Once that process is complete, all this information will be packaged into a plan that will work for you -- and your leaders.
What are you waiting for? Contact us today.