You have a dream. An idea that has been brewing in your head for years finally came to fruition, and you decided to put your entrepreneurial spirit to work for you. You set up Shopify with the idea of creating an online shop that you can operate from the comforts of your home. Now, you have a product to offer, and you want to introduce it to as many people as possible.
In order to plan your marketing strategy, you need to set some key internal goals for your business. These goals should be measurable, and as you work towards them, you will see your business grow. Writing a marketing plan is a great way to organize your thinking and set your key priorities, and it will also help you identify key performance indicators to track your progress and determine whether or not you have reached your mark.
Set Measureable Marketing Objectives
What is your ultimate goal as a marketer? To grow your business as much as possible? To gain brand recognition? To make a profit? These are all good questions, and they are all important. Setting measurable marketing objectives will assist you in determining the success of your efforts, and it will allow you to track your progress. Measurable marketing objectives should form a link between your marketing activities and your business objectives. For example, if your aim is to increase web traffic to your site, then the objectives you set out should link back to this end. The next step is to decide what you will measure, and this will help establish the benchmarks for your success.
Set Key Performance Indicators
Performance indicators are the measures that you will use to determine the success of your marketing effort. Typically, you will use measures such as:
- Website traffic
- Social media engagement
- Product purchase behavior
- Conversion rates
- Sales volumes
- Margins and profits
These are all important figures, and you will use them to track the effectiveness of your marketing strategy. They should all be linked to your business goals, and it’s a good idea to set a benchmark for yourself so you can measure your progress. Setting KPIs will help you focus your attention on specific areas of your marketing strategy and determine whether or not these efforts are bringing about the results you were looking for. For example, did your latest social media campaign drive new customers to your site? Are more people clicking on your ads now than before? Is your SEO strategy proving to be more effective than you could have imagined?
Determine the Channels You Will Use
Your marketing strategy should form a cohesive whole, and it should not be splintered across multiple platforms. You need to decide which channels you will use to promote your product, and this should be based on what works best for you. Think about your target audience and which platforms they prefer to use. Once you have this information, you can begin to build your strategic plan.
Know When to Review and Adjust Your Strategy
Your marketing strategy will be reviewed periodically, and adjustments should be made as needed. You will want to look at whether or not your overall approach is effective, and this means you will have to scrap or adjust some aspects of your plan. Sometimes a change of approach is necessary, and the earlier you recognize this, the better. Sometimes a course correction can be salvaged, but other times a complete overhaul may be required.
As a new business owner, you should not be afraid to change your mind about certain things, and this is a good thing because it means you are not wedded to one approach. You should, however, be careful about following the whims of the popular culture, and you should instead look to the numbers to see what is actually effective.
Develop a Time-table
A time-table is important because it helps you plan out a schedule for yourself. Everyone has different priorities, and it is important to have some clarity about what is most important to you. Setting aside some time for yourself each week is important, and it will help you ensure you do not waste any time while still accomplishing what needs to be done.
Create Key Messages
A key message is the one, clear and concise message you want to give to your audience. It is the central theme of your marketing campaign, and it should be short, easy to understand, and memorable. The key message should tie together all the other aspects of your marketing campaign, and it should be something that will bring a smile to your audience’s face. This will assist you in creating the right impression on your customers – one that is encouraging them to continue your journey, and one that is motivating them to buy your product or service. Your key message should not be longer than three or four sentences, and it should not be overused or repeated. It should be uniquely placed on all your marketing material (e.g., website, social media, email marketing) and used consistently throughout. Once you have your key message, you can begin to build compelling content that will assist you in driving traffic to your site.
Dress Your Plan In a Visually Attractive Manner
A lot of planning goes into a business’s marketing strategy, and it is important to make sure this is evident to the reader. Visual appeal is an important tool for grabbing a reader’s attention, and creating a polished, well-designed plan is a good way to ensure that your strategy is understood. This is especially important if you are planning on presenting the plan to a client for approval – seeking their business input and involvement is invaluable, and it shows you have considered their opinion and put it to work for you.
Keep To The Timeline
You should not be afraid to schedule meetings with those you plan on presenting your strategy to. Meetings should be scheduled, and it is important that everyone is on the same page with regards to the timeline. As a brand-new business, you may find it difficult to set a timeline for yourself, but you should do so as soon as possible. In setting the timeline for your plan, you should set a delivery date in mind as well – something that you can strive for but do not expect to achieve immediately. This way you will not be disappointed when you do not reach your goal straight away, and you can adjust your strategy and course accordingly.
Keep It Relevant
Your plan should not be out of date as soon as it is published. If you want to have a fresh look at your strategy, you should review it at least once a year, and you should aim to do this at least three months before the end of the year. This gives you enough time to make any necessary changes and adjustments to ensure your plan is still effective and up-to-date.
Plan B: Alternative Marketing Plan
Your plan should not be the only thing you consider when developing your marketing strategy – you should also have an alternative in mind in case your plan does not work out as you expect it to. What would you do if your plan does not yield the results you are looking for? Do you have another strategy that you can put to work? The earlier you can come up with an alternative plan, the better – this way you can be sure your strategy will be effective, and you will not be wasting your time and resources. A good alternative plan should not be too dissimilar from your original strategy – it should form a cohesive unit and be the culmination of your efforts to date. A well-thought-out alternative plan will undoubtedly save you and your business in the long run.
Plan C: Course Correction
Your plan should not come to an end when you publish it. Your plan should be, and expected to be, a living, breathing document – it should be reviewed and adjusted as necessary, and you should aim to set benchmarks for yourself so you can track your progress. After you have set your key performance indicators and put your plan into action, you should revisit your plan at least once a year, and ideally, three or four times. It is far better to find out during this process that your plan is not working out as you expected, than it is to discover this when you are already well into your implementation process. Having a plan A, B, and C will undoubtedly save you and your business in the long run – when things go wrong, you can always go back to Plan A, and if this does not work, you can adjust your strategy and go back to Plan B, and so on.