Many entrepreneurs become inspired and motivated to start a business after seeing the success of their peers. Unfortunately, this can cause them to rush into starting a company without thinking through every aspect of the process. This is especially dangerous if they are not aware of the amount of work that is required to successfully establish a business.
To avoid this, you should take the time to plan out your marketing schedule in advance. Doing this will enable you to hit the ground running once you have launched, and ensure that your business does not suffer due to a lack of preparation.
To start, it’s important to set a goal for your marketing activities. Ideally, you would like to grow your audience, find new customers, and increase your sales. To do this, you need to run effective marketing campaigns that will get you there. With this in mind, it’s important to lay out a strategy to ensure that these goals are met.
Marketing Strategy Basics
To begin developing your strategy, you need to determine what marketing activities will get you there. It’s important to note that ‘there’ is a variety of destinations that you could reach, so your strategy needs to be highly targeted. Once you have this part worked out, you can move on to developing the marketing plan for the year.
The following sections will walk you through the process of setting up a marketing plan for your business, using a guide based on [CONTENT] marketing. This is one of the most effective and popular advertising platforms, and you’ll soon see why.
What is content marketing?
Put simply, content marketing is when you create and distribute relevant, valuable, and consistent content to attract, engage, and delight your target audience.
This type of marketing is often referred to as ‘inbound marketing’, and it promotes a ‘relationship centric’ approach to marketing. Instead of just pushing products or services at people, you are nurturing these relationships and encouraging prospects to become customers by providing them with helpful information.
The content that you create and distribute will depend on your industry, and the type of customers you are looking to attract. Typically, content marketing falls into one of the following categories:
- Product reviews: Consumers flock to online marketplaces to read reviews of the products that they are interested in buying. This type of content is extremely useful to shoppers as it provides them with critical information about the products that they are considering purchasing.
- How-to guides: People love to learn new things, and many consumers have a tendency to flock to online forums to ask questions or get help from experts. Thus, the how-to guide can be a valuable tool for your business. You can easily develop these into helpful web content that will attract and retain customers.
- Whitepapers and reports: These are two types of documentation that businesses can use to explain their value proposition and industry analysis to potential customers. A whitepaper is usually more academic in nature, and a report will be more practical and often more heavily illustrated.
- Case studies: These are examples of a business that provides a useful service to people, and as a result, they have a high chance of attracting and retaining customers. An effective business case study will use persuasive language to explain the importance of your product or service to the world. Make sure that you source and reference well-written case studies that will hit the mark.
The Difference Between Marketing and Advertising
Many entrepreneurs become confused at the beginning of their journey, as they do not clearly differentiate between marketing and advertising. Marketing is the umbrella term that relates to all of the activities and tools that you use to communicate and engage with customers. The goal of marketing is to drive profitable and positive action from among your audience. Advertising, on the other hand, is simply a ‘way’ that you communicate with the public. Advertising can be considered a subset of marketing, but it has a separate function: to raise brand awareness among target audiences.
You should bear in mind that there is a huge difference between the two, and this is something that you must keep in mind as you develop your strategy. It is essential that you do not confuse the two, as this could result in you doing the wrong thing – and quite possibly damaging your business.
The Components of a Marketing Plan
Like many other strategies, the process of setting up a marketing plan does not end with the creation of the document. You will need to work on this plan, reviewing it, and adjusting it as necessary, to ensure that it is fit for purpose.
The following sections go through each part of a marketing plan, in detail, to help you put it all together. When developing your plan, it is important to break it down into small, specific tasks, so that you can track your progress and ensure that everything is accounted for.
This is a short and tidy summary of your marketing plan. It is often used to introduce the main body of the document, and it should not exceed three or four sentences. In this summary, you will introduce your business, state your objectives, and provide a short overview of the content, materials, and techniques that you will use to deliver on your promises.
Overview of the Product(s)
This part of your plan will include all of the products and services that you offer to your customers. In general, you should keep this section short and sweet. You want to keep the attention of your audience, so the more you can pack into this part of the plan, the better. Ensure that each product or service is accompanied by clear, concise descriptions that make the reader completely aware of what they are buying and why they should want it. You should also list the various options that this product or service can be purchased in, as well as the prices associated with each. This part of your plan will also be where you list any known competitors.
On one hand, you want to be informative and helpful to your audience. However, on the other hand, you want to ‘grab’ their attention and make them interested in your product or service. To achieve this, you can use one of the many proven techniques that have been around for years. This part of your plan will list the various approaches that you will take to market your products and services.
One of the simplest and most effective techniques is an [ASK] strategy. This entails simply asking questions and listening intently to the answers. You are interested in buying a fridge, and you call the company to get some feedback on the various types of fridges that they offer. The person on the phone will have to listen to your questions carefully, and they will most likely end up directing you to a specific model of fridge that will suit your needs. This type of interaction is extremely useful, as it gives the person on the phone an opportunity to educate you on the various features of the fridge, as well as to sell you on their product. Thus, the role of the marketer has now changed from that of a passive information receiver to that of an active participant in the buying process.
This is the part of your plan where you spell out who your target audience is and what they want. Who is your audience, and what are they looking for? This is perhaps the most important part of your plan, as it will dictate what type of content you need to create and distribute. The more you can pack into this part of the plan, the better. You want to make sure that you cover all of the main demographics, as well as the various sub-groups within these demographics. Take your time with this part, and make sure that you have thoroughly thought through your choice of words and the order of the information. Ensure that you keep this part of your plan concise and to the point.
Goals and Objectives
Now that you have a clear idea of who your audience is, it’s time to set some clear goals and objectives for your marketing. To start with, you want to establish what you hope to achieve, and why. Ideally, you would like to grow your audience, find new customers, and increase your sales. To do this, you need to run effective marketing campaigns that will get you there. With this in mind, it’s important to lay out a strategy to ensure that these goals are met.