Most business owners would agree that they want to reach
more customers, but very few know how to craft a marketing plan that reaches potential
customers. A marketing plan captures all those business growth ideas and gives
a business a clear execution plan that achieves results. A marketing plan
- Summary of the business’ current situation
(including product or service, current effective marketing tactics, challenges,
- Target audience (including demographic
- Future goals (makes these goals specific, such
as social media engagement goals, website traffic, etc.)
- Tactics used in future marketing efforts (i.e.
social media, content marketing, advertising, etc.)
- Marketing schedule (with party responsible for
execution and clear deadlines)
Benefits of a Marketing Plan
- A marketing plan provides focus so the targeted
audience is reached.
- Planning ahead allows for adequate planning and
preparation (and avoids charges for rushed projects).
- A marketing plan puts ideas into a document, so
the business can regularly revisit the plan and make sure work is being done.
- It allows a business to track results—and
refine future marketing.
Tips for an Incredibly Effective Marketing Plan
Effective marketing plans are built, not given. The best
marketing plan sets clear goals and outlines tactics that coordinate together
to achieve those goals. As such, there are some clear marketing plan tips that
businesses should use to create a coordinated and target effort that provides
the best return-on-investment for the marketing budget.
Identify a target audience.
A target audience is an important part of effective marketing because it guides the selection and tone of future marketing. Instead of saying “everyone,” a marketing plan should specify the location (especially true for local businesses) and demographics of the target audience. A clearly defined audience can dictate the right social media channels that are used by the demographic. (The demographics of social media are outlined in this Sprout Social report.) If the target audience location is key, a marketing plan can demonstrate the need for solid local SEO services.
Set reachable goals.
Most businesses want to growth their business. The most
effective marketing plans aim for growth, but do so with a set of annual attainable
goals. As nice as it would be to gain thousands of social media followers, a
marketing plan breaks the effort into step-by-step goals that get hundreds of
customers in the target audience ever year.
Remember, that effective marketing is all about quality over
quantity. For local businesses, reaching thousands of customers hundreds of
miles away that can’t buy is a waste of marketing funds. Instead, it makes
cents (pun intended) for local businesses to invest in marketing tactics that
reach local customers that are in a position to purchase the business’ goods
and services. A hundred local customers that can or may buy are more valuable
than thousands of national customers.
The crux of a well-executed marketing plan is to be
realistic about the amount of staff available to carry it out. If a business
wants to keep the effort in-house, the responsible staff member should be
chosen carefully (with the right skills and expertise) and have the time
available to devote to regular marketing efforts. All marketing passwords
should be stored at the business. User profiles should be set up for the
business, not the individual.
When there are not staff members available (or not enough time in the day), it may be time to outsource efforts. Just as when hiring a new staff member, a marketing firm should be chosen carefully. The marketing firm should be screened carefully and should be able to provide firm data that demonstrates the return-on-investment of every marketing tactic. For local businesses, the marketing firm should especially be able to demonstrate a clear expertise and have a track record of getting targeted results for local businesses.
Strategically choose tactics that fit with goals.
Targeted marketing requires targeted marketing tactics. This
is especially true for small businesses who don’t have the staffing, time, or
budget for large-scale marketing. Instead, businesses should choose marketing
tactics that reach the target audience and provide the best
Marketing Plan Ideas
An effective marketing plan utilizes marketing tactics that
reach the target audience, though the combination of those tactics is different
for every business. This list includes marketing tactics that build trust with
an online audience and provide a solid return-on-investment.
Local SEO services set up a business online so that it shows up in searches by local customers. This marketing tactic involves multiple steps, such as claiming listings on online directories, building an optimized website, and creating and promoting quality content. The whole effort is a series of one-time and ongoing tasks that build trust with search engines and online customers. Because it is an ongoing process, it often pays off to outsource this effort to a local SEO service.
It’s also a marketing tactic backed by statistics. Another study published in Search Engine Land found that 78% of all local mobile searches result in offline purchases. Local SEO gets a business found in local searches, and builds continual trust with brand reputation management. Again, the latter is based off of online user behaviors. According to Search Engine Land, research has shown that 88% factor online reviews into their purchasing decision.
Quality content attracts customers in two ways: through
listing in search engines and via email and social media. Well-written content
images establish a company as a local industry expert and the answer to
The key is to produce optimized content that positions the content in relevant customer searches and results in clicks on social media and in emails. For the effort to be successful, the content needs to be regularly posted and relevant to the target audience. Content creation should also involve keyword and search intent research and end with a promotion strategy that reaches the target audience. For regular and strategic content creation, a calendar with topics, deadlines, and responsible parties (either in-house or by a quality content firm) should be crafted and maintained.
Social media is a marketing tactic that requires strategic
planning and execution. The effort starts with selecting the right social media
channels based on the target audience and continues with regular posts relevant
to the industry and audience.
This marketing tactic is about more than just selling
products. Social media also gives businesses the chance to showcase their
involvement in local causes, showcase projects and achievements, talk to their
customers (with excellent
online customer service), and gain positive reviews that show up in online
The latter two elements of social media are often overlooked
by businesses. Prompt and excellent customer service is an interaction that can
result in sales and loyalty, though it needs to be delivered promptly. For this
reason, businesses should select experienced staff members for the responses
and establish a system for response and follow-up.
On social media and online review sites, positive reviews
are earned; however, businesses are passing up on a chance to earn more
customers by not asking for them. There are many opportunities for businesses
to remind customers to leave reviews, which is why businesses should
incorporate the asks into existing marketing pieces and customer interactions.
The effort should be a comprehensive business effort with every staff member
trained to deliver during service delivery.
A well-built, easy-to-use website is worth its weight in
gold, both in the eyes of customers and search engines. The website is a
business’ chance to tell their story and provide an optimal customer experience
that builds customer trust.
Statistics prove that a mobile-friendly, fast website is
worth the effort. A study in Search
Engine Land found that nearly 60 percent of all searches are done on a
mobile device. According to Google, when the time for a website page to load
goes from one to three seconds, the chance of an online user leaving the
website increases by 32%. That number almost triples, to 90%, when page loading
speed goes from one to five seconds. The number increases to 106% when loading
from one to six seconds. From one to 10 seconds, the chances of a bounce are a
In addition to these important parts of the customer
experience, captivating images, website content, and an easy-to-navigate
website all play a significant part in converting visitors to customers.
Email marketing is one of the most effective marketing
tactics IF executed correctly. Email marketing starts with a list of recipients
interested in the business services or products. If the recipients are not
interested, the email is going to go to the trash; this is a key reason why
buying email lists is not an effective way to build an email list.
Instead, businesses should ask for e-mail addresses with
incentives or during interactions with customers. Businesses can ask for email
addresses on the website, during the buying process, or at meetings. To
continue to grow the list and maintain interest, all emails should be drafted
with a subject line that gets noticed, content that is valuable to the customer,
and high-quality media that connects with the recipient. For best results, email
content should be coordinated with other marketing tactics in a coordinated