marketing plan

The beginning of any year is a great time to set up the foundational elements of your marketing strategy and revisit certain pieces, editing your marketing plan as necessary.

First, let’s establish the difference between a marketing plan and a marketing campaign.

  1. A marketing plan is high-level; it provides the overall strategy based on the business’s objectives.
  2. A marketing campaign is more focused; it provides the tactical marketing initiatives necessary to achieve a specific marketing goal.

Marketing activities necessitate careful planning and understanding of all facets of the project. Your marketing plan will be the step-by-step process focusing on campaign execution.

Steps to Building Your 2017 Marketing Plan

First, you should analyze your 2016 performance as well as your competitors’ performance (you can’t just think about the brand-driven side of the marketing funnel). Learning form the previous year is a necessary step if you hope to have an even better year (and I think we all want that). Document the buyer’s journey. Look at your own brand-driven content (on social, email, print, search, etc.) and research what competing companies published. For your brand, analyze metrics like impressions and engagement, visits, conversions, and revenue. For the competitor side of things, you’ll likely only be able to gather basic data but there’s still lots to learn from there! Once you dig deeper into this information and audience insights you can truly optimize your 2017 marketing plan.

This initial research will help shape the next steps in building your marketing plan. You start by writing an inspirational vision statement for your business that details what you want your brand to be. Then you compose a mission statement written with the customer in mind. Your mission, of course, aligns with your vision. It specifies what customer needs you fulfill and how you deliver those needs. The mission statement should also identify the market who is most likely to buy and benefit from your product or services.Then comes identifying your goals and determining what you wish to accomplish. Write these goals down and reassess them a few times a year.

An important next step is determining your target audience. Define who your ideal client is and how your brand can uniquely help them. Focusing on a specific market ultimately saves you time and money that might have been spent fruitlessly chasing the wrong group of people.

Once you know who you are marketing to, choose which channel(s) are best for achieving your goals and map out how you will use each to propagate your marketing message. Will it be Social media? Email? Blog? SEM? PR? PPC?

Lastly, don’t forget to have a brainstorming sesh with your marketing team to generate ideas. Then, finalize your marketing plan with actionable tips for moving forward.

Remember, a marketing plan, while outlining all the important pieces of marketing your brand, doesn’t have to be overly complex or long-winded. Keep it simple and use it to guide your marketing efforts, be it inbound or on- and off-line tactics.

Recommended Developments to Incorporate Into Your 2017 Marketing Plan

For 2017 specifically, there are numerous social network developments that may influence your digital marketing going forward. Here are a few of the ones I think are most beneficial:

Instagram is continuing to grow and evolve. If your brand doesn’t use Instagram, don’t wait too long to try it out. Not only are there 600 million monthly active users but there are currently 100,000+ advertisers utilizing the multiple options Instagram offers (Stories Ads, Live Ads, and disappearing Direct Messages). Because of the options and user-friendly formatting, your marketing budget is better spent on Instagram than, say, Snapchat (IMO). If you are active on Instagram, now is the time to make sure you’re up-to-speed on all it offers.

Some other food for thought: Simply Measured reports that Google and Facebook own 76% of Internet advertising growth!!! However, ad blocker usage is also growing as more users resist banner ads et al. So stop creating the ads people don’t want to see and start investigating Facebook and Google ads.

With new-ish features such as Facebook Live and Instagram Stories, it is easier than ever to build on an already committed audience! Social is a space where your brand can get creative and publish well-made content, so try experimenting with different social strategies.

Beyond social, there are several tech developments that should play a role in determining what direction to take your marketing. The rise of live video and messaging apps’ influence on marketing are the most noteworthy. (Refer to our recent post for more on what trends are going to drive the digital world this year.)

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I hope you are able to create a successful 2017 marketing plan (or modify your current plan) based on learning from 2016 and using the latest tools available. And I hope you have fun doing so!

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