Ask any marketeer what their marketing plan process is, and you’ll get wildly different answers.
The truth is that, while there are industry-wide, well-recognised techniques for creating a plan, we all develop our preferred way of doing it.
I have honed and refined my process over the years. It now has, as its backbone, the techniques that I learned while doing my Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) Diploma, layered with hands-on experience of creating plans as in-house marketing manager, modified to reflect the challenges that I see business owners facing every day.
The Marketing Architect clients often need a quick solution, and don’t have the three months it usually takes to create a plan within a corporate business.
To be fair, this process is constantly evolving as my virtual team of freelance marketeers and I find better ways of researching and working with clients.
You might be intrigued by ‘how we do things around here’, so I’ve laid out the stages that we go through to get to the end result. Of course, once it’s done, it’s a working document as budget ups and downs, or changes in the industry mean that the details will inevitably need to change and evolve over time.
You could easily use my marketing plan process as a template for designing your own plan.
Stage 1 – Homework:
Once we’ve agreed that we are going to work together, we issue our client with homework. This includes worksheets asking questions around products and services, Dream Client, a marketing audit, the financial history and targets for the business. We need lots of information at this stage so that we can start our research by doing an audit of what has been done in the past marketing-wise, and how it’s working for the business.
Stage 2 – Download Day:
We hold a ‘Download Day’ to meet with our client, review the homework and download as much information from them about their business as we can. This is where we start to get to grips with the business, what is driving it, what the issues are, and start to generate ideas for marketing based on our discussion.
Stage 3 – Research:
In this phase, we get busy researching our client’s business and industry. We carry out competitor research to figure out the messages and marketing that competitors are focused on, and the client’s position in that market. We talk to past customers, so that we can understand what they think about the business and its product or services, and their preferences in terms of marketing communications. We identify the opportunities for marketing activities in our client’s specific industry or vertical market.
Stage 4 – Strategy:
First, we create a set of marketing objectives – the marketing goals that we believe will help our client to reach the strategic objectives that they have for their business. Then we create customer avatars, so that we have a locked down view of the individuals that they are trying to reach. We brainstorm the marketing activities that will deliver these objectives – either with our client or separately. We lay out a customer journey of marketing activities that will propel our client’s prospects through a pathway that converts them from stranger to raving fan.
Stage 5 – Drafting:
We create our first draft of the marketing plan itself using all the research and ideas we have generated so far. We also create a set of supporting documents that help to illustrate the strategy. This includes a Social Media Strategy – the techniques we will use to find and build relationships with the target audience; a Key Message Profile – the key messages about the business that need to be included in any marketing activity, listed in menu style; a draft budget (based on the client’s ideal budget spend) – where we recommend making investments to deliver the plan; competitor audit; website audit; and the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis that we created in our Download Day.
Stage 6: Delivery Day
We meet with our client to deliver the plan, discuss the content and refine the ideas around each activity, if necessary.
Stage 7: Implementation
If our client has decided that they’d like us to implement the plan (and some clients prefer to invest in the plan only, and then take a DIY approach to building it) we refine it based on their feedback, finalise the budget and create a realistic schedule of works that outlines the timeframes in which we intend to ‘build’ the plan.
Many clients choose to work with The Marketing Architect because they just don’t know where to start with a marketing plan for their business, so I may well have ruined my chances of winning some business by sharing my secrets with you here.
But, often, they need the help because they just don’t have the time to do all of this themselves – they’re already far too busy running and growing their business.
If this is you, why not schedule in a free Marketing Review, and we’ll figure out how The Marketing Architect could best support your business.