You have a great idea to bring in more customers, sell more units and push your business to the top of Google’s rankings. That’s the first step to a successful marketing plan but how often do your plans stop there? I know running a small business can get hectic and some of your best marketing ideas never get past the planning phase. Having a consistent marketing plan to finish a project can keep you on track and help you scale your business.
Developing an effective marketing plan for each task takes time and it seems easier just to dive in. Without planning ahead, though, at some point you’ll run into a step you weren’t prepared for. That’s where the project tends to get dropped and forgotten. This easy-to-follow plan allows you to think about the task from start-to-finish. Each step is an important key to finish a project.
To follow this chart and finish a project, you want to always start at the top and work your way down. This means you start with your strategy. What is your marketing goal for the next 6-12 months? Basically, what will your project help accomplish? This strategy should frame and guide every marketing action for the next year.
Now, move down a step and think about your tactics. A tactic is how you are going to accomplish your strategy. Your project fits on this line. Other tactics can range from reaching a specific target number of “likes” on Facebook or setting up a follow-up plan after a customer visits your store.
Next, you want to single out your first tactic. Map out the customer experience for this tactic and consider every element, or asset, that is needed to satisfy it. Make sure to go left to right to really track the customer’s journey in what they’ll interact with to schedule their next appointment or download an e-book. This will help you avoid missing a crucial step or getting caught off-guard with a surprise! Knowing every asset you need, down to how many emails you’ll send, will help you finish a project.
What does every asset need to be complete? Every piece of content that goes into that landing page, email or social media post should be purposefully planned in advance. This can include anything from a form to the graphics or copy. Content is anything the audience sees or interacts with within each asset. Remember to keep it simple, especially in the planning stages. You want to include all of the essential features to fulfill your business’ marketing strategy, without getting bogged down with unnecessary enhancements and flourishes that will take more of your time than you’ll get from them.
The tools you use to create each piece of content can also be called your resources. Do you need Google Docs to write that copy in advance? Do you have a form builder? What do you use to send out emails? When you list these out in advance, you won’t find yourself scrambling in the 11th hour to integrate a shopping cart with your form.
Last, but certainly not least, how will you use the tools to create the content that comprises that asset to serve the tactic that achieves your strategy (see what I did there)? Do you have all the skills necessary to create everything? This can include either technical or creative skills – or both! If you have a team, this is where you figure out which tasks need to be delegated to whom. By thinking about this at the beginning, everyone will be on the same page – and know their role – from the start. It’s much easier to finish a project when people aren’t scrambling to find a Photoshop expert!
Remember: work top-down and left-to-right. Once you’ve fleshed out your first tactic, move on to the next one. You won’t know exactly what each one takes until you’ve worked through it.
Need an example of the chart in action? Here’s how I would use it if I was planning to generate and engage new leads to close more sales. (Who doesn’t need to do that?):
*Note: You could (and should!) get more detailed with your own planning chart. This is just one tactic to achieve the strategy. It doesn’t include how to direct traffic to that landing page in the beginning – is there a Call-to-Action on a blog post? An email blast sent out? A Facebook post? Directing traffic can be an initial traffic all on its own for you to flesh out!
*Note #2: Notice the strategy uses active and directive verbs. This is important even if your map is for internal purposes only. Actually, especially if it’s for internal uses. Active language triggers our brains to, well, act. It brings your ultimate marketing goal for your small business out of an abstract place and turns it into an in-process business strategy. It’s real and it’s happening now!
Now, reward yourself. You just finally finished a project. On to the next one!