What Makes A Good Plan Great?
6 Essential Elements of Killer Marketing Plans
In an earlier post, I called out the need for a marketing plan (see http://kinneystrategy.com/blog/i-love-it-when-a-plan-comes-together). In this posting, I’ll highlight 6 elements that make a good plan even better and point out a potential pitfall.
Let’s start with the pitfall -- rushing into tactics too soon (advertising, PR, direct mail, e-mail blasts, etc.). The impulse is understandable. We want to get things done and make an impact, especially when there is money on the line. And productivity is important. We get things done and we pride ourselves on that. But, when it comes to your marketing plan, shooting first and asking questions never is the wrong approach. Why? If your tactics are not supporting a sound strategy, they will not produce the intended results. In addition, the tactical execution of a plan is where you spend the most money. You can burn through a lot of your marketing budget on tactics that would have been a lot more effective with a little more strategy.
Next, here are the 6 critical and interrelated components of the best marketing plans:
1. Mind The Gap.
All marketing plans should provide an analysis of your industry and competitors. However, sometimes planners miss the point of all that work. The purpose of that analysis is to use those insights to find an opening in the market. That is, what need, perceived need, or desire is not being fulfilled or met well by your competitors? Is that gap big enough for you to make a play through? If so, will it generate enough of a return if you go for it?
2. It’s Your Move.
Then, once you’ve identified the opening in the market, determine how you will exploit it. How will you maneuver your sales and marketing machine into position to capitalize on the opportunity? If you are lucky, you’ve seen the opening before your competitors can take advantage of it. But, your success or failure depends on when and how you make your move. You don’t necessarily need to be a first mover, if you’ve got better moves.
3. How-To Guide.
Of course your plan will include specific and measurable objectives. It should also clearly define on a step-by-step basis, how you will achieve the objectives. What are you going to do, when are you going to do and to what end? The numbers should also back up this how-to guide, which is, dependent on your assessment of the market opening opportunity.
4. Beyond Demographics.
Your analysis of the target audience is also critical. For sure, you need to cover the basics to define a detailed profile of your prospective customers. More importantly, you need to be able to understand the drivers and motivators of your target audience’s decision-making process. Keep in mind, that these decisions are rarely logical and rational. In fact, even in high dollar, business-to-business sales made by experienced, well-educated execs are influenced by non-rational factors. Your job is to understand what those factors are and respond to them.
Armed with this information, you will be able to craft your USP (unique selling proposition), business value platform and competitive advantages. Remember, as you work through these strategic constructs, it is important to keep in mind that your target audience cares less about the features of what your selling and more about how that feature benefits them. Remember, it is always about what’s in it for them. And the answer to that better be a perfect match with what motivates them and addresses their perceived needs (rationally, logically and the irrational and emotional).
6. Buyer's Journey Funnel.
Finally, the plan should clearly map how your target audience will be propelled through the Buyer’s Journey Funnel and how you will convert them through each stage of the funnel (from awareness through to close).
Weaving all of these elements together is not easy. And, by no means is your plan complete with only these components, but, the best plans are ones that tie them into a fine tapestry -- one that doesn’t hang on the wall but can keep you warm at night.