Marketing is the fuel that drives the sales engine for every successful company’s growth and profitability.
Your marketing plan and corresponding marketing budget are essential components to achieving your revenue goals. They provide the information you need to allocate the amount to spend on your marketing efforts in order to achieve your revenue goals within a certain timeframe.
Unfortunately, far too many businesses do not take the time to plan out their process and develop a solid marketing budget. As a result, they underspend, spend haphazardly on ad-hoc, reactive efforts, or overspend on activities that do not bring a return on investment (ROI).
Below are the 3 critical steps that you need to take to create an annual marketing plan that gets results for your company:
Step #1: Gather your numbers
The first step in creating your marketing budget is to organize your current finances. More specifically, you need to know what your company makes on a monthly basis, along with any seasonal fluctuations. You’ll also need to know what your operational costs are each month - what does it cost you in time and labor to deliver your products and services?
The other set of numbers that you need (if you have them) are your sales conversion numbers. You can harvest this information from your accounting software, customer relationship management (CRM) software, and Google Analytics account.
Information that is helpful includes:
- How many website visitors do we get each month?
- How many leads are we generating each month? Where did they come from?
- How many leads convert to buyers?
- What’s the cost of generating each lead? What is the cost of generating each buyer?
- What is the typical lifetime value of each customer?
In addition, be sure to analyze your sales and revenue trends from last year. Where did most of your business come from - new or existing customers? How long was your typical sales cycle? What were your best lead sources?
Document your lessons learned from the past year and think about improvements you’d like to make this year. Reviewing your past marketing performance plays a crucial part in effectively creating a marketing plan that builds upon your successes.
Step #2: Set your business goals
Before you can plan your marketing activities, it’s important to set your your company’s strategic growth and revenue goals. For example, if you plan to grow your business by 20 percent then you’ll want to do a lot more than just design a new brochure.
Questions that will help you determine your company goals include:
- What are your revenue objectives and profit goals for the year?
- What are your revenue and profit goals for each quarter?
- Are there specific business goals that you want to accomplish in the next year/quarter that will require resources (ex: launch a new service line, hire a new employee, increase the sales of a particular product, etc.)?
Your number one priority is to determine where you would like to see your company a year from now, and then you work backwards into each quarter. From there, plan the the steps and activities you’ll need to each week, each month, and each quarter to help you achieve your overarching business goals.
Step #3: Build your marketing plan
Once you have gathered your numbers and understand your business goals and activities, you are armed with the information you need to develop a marketing plan to achieve them.
Developing a marketing plan will ensure that you are spending your marketing dollars on the right efforts at the right time - you develop marketing activities to support the realization of your business goals.
As you create your marketing plan, specify which marketing activities your company will focus on to achieve the revenue, profit, and business goals you want to accomplish for the year. Be sure to build upon successes you’ve had in the past. For example, if you’ve noticed that you are getting a steady stream of leads from your website, then see if there are opportunities to strengthen its marketing power through a redesign or enhancement.
For example, you might want to plan activities around any or all of the below:
- Blog posts
- Social media
- Email newsletters
- Direct mail such as postcards or letters
- Advertising (print, radio, television)
- Marketing materials (brochures, trade show materials, packaging)
Remember to consider which marketing channels allow you to reach the right audiences. If you are a newer business, perhaps you will need to build brand awareness across multiple platforms. Or, if you’re launching a new product or service to a specific industry, focus on the best channel to reach that audience.
Create a calendar as part of your marketing plan
From there, build a marketing calendar that lists the discrete marketing activities that your company will be undertaking.
Plot your major campaigns first - for example a website redesign or product launch - these require more resources and time to get things done than smaller ongoing efforts. Then plug in your smaller campaigns and ongoing marketing activities like blog posts and e-newsletters.
Even if you do not plan to allocate budget to a category - such as social media - make sure you are still including it in your marketing plan so you can define the specific activities and allocate staff time to the endeavor.
Keep in mind: marketing activities are not constant throughout the year. Review the busy seasons in your business and plan marketing activities accordingly. In Part 2 of this series, we will discuss how to plan your marketing budget and set up the metrics to measure your results.
If you need help with your marketing planning, Harvest Media can help! Get in touch with us at 847-352-4345.