Marketing is necessary for any business to grow and engage your audience. It can also be scary as all get out. Dealing with marketing for your business can seem like a big, huge, daunting task. Where do you start? How do you start? With a marketing plan, of course! It’ll help you outline all of that and more. You may be asking right about now – why is it so important? Why do I need one if I have a strategy? They’re the same, right? Right?
First things first: what is the difference between a marketing strategy and a marketing plan? Simply put (and not to go into long prose about both, because I could talk about them for hours), a marketing strategy answers why you’re implementing marketing in the first place. For example, it could be gaining a new audience, boosting your revenue, or expanding your social media. A marketing plan is the how to get to your goal and the steps you need to take along the way. It will help you schedule out your marketing future, create campaigns to align with your goals, and set deadlines so you don’t miss out on those opportunities or irritate your audience with over-communication. It’ll give your team members a calendar to engage with too.
Let’s look at it like a video game. You know, the old school kind like you might find in an arcade. Your business is the little character you’re playing as, and your strategy end goal might be the treasure on the other side of a locked door. You need to get the key on the other side of the screen to get to the prize; along the way, there might be aliens, pits of toxic ooze, platforms you have to jump between, and vines you have to crawl up.
You know you can’t go from point A to B because you’ll either fall into the toxic ooze or get eaten by an alien. However, going from A to B with your marketing strategy could allow your goals to fall by the wayside, and you could get lost on how to ‘beat’ the level.
To combat this, you want to come up with a plan. Your plan will break down the steps you need to take to get to the key to open the door to the treasure. So, let’s break it down! Here’s a simple scenario. You want to increase engagement on your social media because you know increased engagement can lead to more orders down the road.
Identify your audience
First, we’ve got to identify who your new target market is, AKA getting across the toxic ooze. Identifying a target market will help you develop effective social media campaigns to bring more engagement to your page. Let’s say your target market is anyone local you don’t have as a customer yet. It’s a little vague – but sometimes that’s okay!
Execute your strategy
Second, you’ve got to defeat a hoard of ferocious space aliens. You know people like incentives, so your strategy is to post an incentive to get your customers to follow you on your social campaigns. For example, you could post something like “15% off any order if you like our page and mention this post!” You then have a measurable response when you take their order.
Implement your plan
Third, you’ve got to jump from one platform to another, trying to avoid falling boulders! You’ve researched social media best practices and recommended posting times and frequencies, now you’re ready to implement your plan and schedule your posts! Based on your research, you’ve been posting a little inconsistently so you schedule multiple posts over several weeks with each somehow incorporating your promotion.
Evaluate and optimize
Finally, you’ve made it to the key! At this point in your plan, you may evaluate your strategy and realize that while you’ve been posting more regularly and offering incentives – it’s not quite enough. Maybe you decide to include some social media ads to support your campaign and boost your engagement, and now you can incorporate that into your marketing plan too. Then, you open the door and have finally gotten your prize!
See! A plan makes it so much simpler and less of a headache. While having a strategy is sound, having a plan to go with the strategy is even better. You know what steps you need to take to reach your goal, and you aren’t stuck trying to battle aliens and dodging boulders. We all like clearly defined goals, checklists, and deadlines. With your plan, you can now gather those all up and put them into a nicely organized document so you can start being proactive and stop feeling lost.
“Wait, wait, wait,” you say. “Person with the weird space obsession typing this. What do you mean nicely organized document? You mean there’s a way to write a marketing plan?”
Yes! There is! And that is where we will pick up next time in part 2 of A Marketing Plan Adventure! Keep an eye out for part 2 where we take an even further deep dive into the pieces of a marketing plan and show you just how to write one.
In the meantime, are you thinking to yourself that this whole social engagement thing sounds great? Not sure where to start? Check out our social media sharables here for free-to-use, downloadable images to help drive your engagement!