5 Things To Know Before You Start a Marketing Plan

starting a marketing planGood marketing comes from good understanding—knowing what makes your company unique and knowing why the customer should care. Do you have this kind of understanding about your brand? You should. Before you launch a new marketing plan, here’s what you need to know.

What’s In It For Customers…

How will your product or service benefit customers? What problems does it solve? What advantages does it offer? The best marketing communicates customer benefits in a way that’s clear and easy to understand.

What to do with this info: List out customer benefits and determine which ones are a priority. Then, itemize benefits and explanations clearly and concisely, and use this messaging across all departments. The goal here is to make your benefits clear to your entire sales team, customer service personnel, and so on. Likewise, build your marketing messaging around the benefits you offer clients. People want to know what’s in it for them.

What’s In It For You…

One of the biggest mistakes brands make in their marketing campaigns is starting without a clear goal. So before you start, ask yourself what you hope to accomplish from your campaign. Do you want to generate new leads? Boost sales? Increase newsletter subscriptions?

Be specific: Rather than saying you want more sales, set a goal of how many. To help you quantify your goals, look at previous performance (number of sales, leads, subscriptions, etc.) and compare that with where you’d reasonably like it to be. This specific goal-setting is important to move your campaign forward and to help you measure results.

A Clear Timeline…

When you launch a marketing campaign without a game plan, you may as well be shooting in the dark. How long will you run the campaign? Is this a one-month strategy or a five-year plan? Determine a timeline for your marketing strategy and, if it’s lengthy, set smaller subgoals along the way.

How to set a timeline: Take a look at the goals you’re trying to accomplish with your campaign, and budget how long you think they will take. Break your long-term goal into smaller ones and set timelines for each. Keep in mind that your timeline is an estimate—a tool to keep you heading towards results.

Your Audience…

To reach your audience, you need to know it. Where are your potential customers online—Do they engage on Facebook? Twitter? LinkedIn? Are they most likely to connect with a brand they find in search results or a magazine article? What do they want, and what are their interests?

How to learn about your audience: Before launching any campaign, you need to conduct market research. You can do this casually through observation, more formally through the help of a marketing firm, or through some combination of the two. Knowing your audience does wonders for your campaign results.

How Your Campaign Will Boost Business…

Your campaign’s long-term goal could be the scheduling of two new PR events or the capturing of 500 new subscribers, but if you don’t know how those goals will benefit your bottom line, they’re practically pointless—at least in terms of business. Look at the goals of your campaign and ask yourself how they’ll boost your sales.

How to evaluate goals: Look at your goals in light of business profits. Say you meet your goal of attracting 500 new newsletter subscribers—Do you have data on how your subscribers respond to promotions? Is there reason to expect sales to go up as subscribers do?

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