There are many great templates online to help you create a marketing plan.
Back when I did my Masters in Marketing and CIM qualifications we learned to analyse the internal and external context first; then take decisions on Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning (STP); then write the plan for how you would achieve that through 4 Ps – product, price, place and promotion. Thankfully for service businesses in particular that was expanded to cover more Ps – like process, people and physical evidence – with the realisation that things other than your tangible product can be reasons why people buy from you.
Very often organisations focus just on the promotional part of the marketing plan – the campaigns they will run, the events they will hold or attend, what they will say on social media. In part because that’s where money is spent, and in part because it’s a mechanic for building brand and demand.
It is important to make sure that the people creating and implementing that promotional plan are also aware of the other Ps. Because all of those other Ps are what you are promoting – and in fact provide a richer source of things to talk about.
Here are some key questions that everyone in your organisation should be able to answer:
- Who are we targeting, specifically? What do they think, feel and do and why? This will help your communications address and engage someone in particular.
- What problem do they have that you are going to solve for them? And what problems don’t you solve for them? The latter is often a more interesting question in getting organisational alignment.
- How else could they solve that problem and why are we really a better choice? Remember that doing nothing or doing it themselves is usually the easiest alternative. You could also ask some of them why they choose you – what they say might not be what you thought and people usually appreciate being asked for feedback.
- How do you fully solve their problem? This is where you need to think about all the Ps – but I would urge you to consider Promotion last to make your promotional plan more powerful.
This will give you the information you need to do your segmentation, targeting and positioning. Just writing a promotional plan without clarity on these other points will get you somewhere, but just not as far as you can go.
Part of the reason for going through the process of writing a marketing plan is to build understanding in your business and create alignment around common goals. This is broader than just the marketing team.
Musically speaking it’s not the best performance if only the violins have been given the music and had a rehearsal. The whole orchestra creates The Brand Symphony.
Your marketing plan is the score and your audience will be thankful you have one.
Jill Pringle is a published author, singer and brand marketing consultant. You can connect with Jill here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jillpringlemarketing/