Creating a Marketing Plan
Launching a new product or service starts with creating a thought out marketing plan.
Every company that graduates from “start-up stage” knows that planning and strategy are extremely important in each new product/service launch. “Build it and they will come” never works without an element of marketing and promotion (i.e. if you build a website and never tell a soul about it, no one will know how and where to look for it, or that it even exists). But getting new customers or clients to buy into using your product is not just something you do one day. It takes a plan, set objectives and implementation.
Luckily, the word “plan” implies a process of how to go about achieving something. Below I’ll share an outline for marketing plans that I’ve been using with some of our friends and clients at AdMoar.
Preface: It’s easy to look at this list and say “I know all of these” without writing down what you know. My suggestion for anyone in charge of marketing would be to copy these titles and write the answer to these questions (and more) down on a piece of paper or a Google Doc. As you launch new products, the industry advances and your customers change, you’ll want to reference your past thoughts about marketing strategy. Having documentation never hurts.
Market Analysis — This is your chance to analyze everything about the market. What is the market you’re going to target with your new product/service? What are the current trends in that market? How large is the market? Who is in the market (check out my post on market segmentation to answer this)? Where are these potential customer segments (do they purchase online, in store, etc.)? Why do they buy (necessity, luxury, etc.)? When do they buy (seasonality)? Who do they currently buy from (competitors)?
Research — Now that you know some facts about your market, its time to narrow down all the information you compiled to find all the right facts that relate specifically to your product, it’s marketing message, your customer’s purchasing behaviors and the changing media landscape at the time of your launch.
“The world is full of facts. You need to accurately identify ones that will help you market your brand more effectively.” — Jim Avery
Problems & Opportunities — From your research, identify the problems in the market that your product/service might be able to solve. Use these problems as opportunities to position your product in the market.
Marketing Objectives — What’s the overall objective of your marketing initiatives (brand awareness, direct sales)? What’s the timeline to hit these objectives? Hard numbers hold people accountable. So make sure to set goals for the number of new customers you will reach this year, the % increase in revenue or % increase in brand awareness, etc.
Budget & Timeline — Before going onto creating your marketing mix, have a clear outline of your budget per week/month/year. As you move on in your planning, remember that your one goal is to hit your marketing objectives within or under this budget range for the entire duration of the campaign.
Marketing Mix — Outline the 5 P’s. (yes, 5). People, Product, Pricing, Promotion, Place. Who is your primary target customer? What is the exact product you’re offering them (what features does it have? whats the value add?)? What does the product cost the customer? Where will you promote the product to get people to buy it (advertising, sales promotion, PR, direct marketing, event marketing, packaging, etc.)? Where will they buy the product (online, in-store)? Repeat these questions for your secondary and tertiary customer segments.
Testing — There are two strategies to test your marketing mix. Depending on your budget, you can either start large and optimize down OR start small and scale up. In your marketing plan, note which one of these strategies will be best for your product and company.
- Starting large and optimizing down — This means, for example, if you’re building a keyword campaign — start with 5,000 keywords and over the course of the first week narrow down to 1,000 and over the course of the next month, narrow down to your top 25. This strategy requires you to keep a 24/hr watch on your campaign as you’re narrowing it down — but after the first month, you’ll be getting a great return on investment.
- Start small and scale up — In the case of any traditional advertising (TV, Radio, Billboard, etc.), this is the strategy you’ll likely want to use. Test your advertising message and medium in one market. If that market performs well over the course of a month or two months, then scale up and start tackling more markets. Protip: You might even want to try running a campaign on Google before putting up a billboard to see how it performs.
Implementation — The next step is to outline exactly how you’ll implement your marketing mix for the duration of your campaign(s). Knowing that you’ll need to be juggling media buying, sales promotions, PR, event marketing and potentially packaging and distribution, ask yourself if it makes sense to outsource portions of these to agencies or automated online services.
Evaluation — Lastly, outline how you’re going to hold yourself accountable and evaluate the campaigns you run. Reiterate: What are your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)? What monetary or customer number targets are you trying to reach? Decide what tracking software you will use to make sure you’re collecting the new number of users or how much money your marketing mix is generating (Google Analytics, MixPanel, Mongoose Metrics, etc.) and decide on a consistent evaluation timeline. Note that evaluation doesn't just happen after the campaign, it should be happening along the way so that you can optimize and change messaging/spend throughout.