If you do a little research on how to market your business, you’ll find a lot of advice about strategy, branding, positioning and how to create a comprehensive plan. That type of long term strategic thinking is definitely the right way to go, but just because you are developing a comprehensive plan doesn’t mean you can’t start winning new customers now.

To create an effective long term marketing plan, you need some essential ingredients. The problem is that those ingredients usually require some work to prepare. The work I am referring to are things like analysing your competition, defining your USPs, choosing your target market, setting your budget and building your marketing stack. All of this (and more) should be done to give you the best possible chance of success, but in most cases it doesn’t all need to be done before you start your first marketing campaign.

Fast tracking the plan without skipping the important bits

If you are like most business owners or managers, you are hoping to start getting results as quickly as possible. Taking three months to plan before you run your first ad may not be a realistic option. A better alternative for your business might be to create a plan that involves starting quickly and then refining your marketing campaigns based on performance.

One way to do this is to jump straight to the first marketing campaign and build out from there. If you do this well, the process of creating the first campaign will force you to answer some of the fundamental questions and get you moving in the right direction with your strategic plan

Marketing campaign overview (the fast track)

Starting with a basic template makes planning much easier. To make the example simple, let’s imagine that you have a sporting goods store and you want to bring people to your shop and sell more football boots. Below is a simple template to get you started with an effective marketing program plan.

  • What are my goals?

    • Sell 40 pairs of football boots next month
  • Who is my target market?

    • Football players
    • Male and female
    • Mostly aged between 16 and 25
  • Which channels will I use?

    • Google Ads – custom intent audience segments
    • Facebook – geographical and interest targeting
  • How will I measure success?

    • Main metric: Football boot sales
    • Secondary metric: Number of customers in store
    • Secondary metric: Ad clicks and website visits

Getting back to the important bits

With the first marketing program in place you have already started answering some of the important questions like “who is your target market”, and you now have ads running that are delivering live feedback on your messaging and targeting.

To measure the results of your campaign you may also need to build out your marketing software stack a little. For example to run the ad campaigns you will need to create Google Ads and Facebook Business accounts for your business. You should also install some form of analytics into your website. Google analytics is a great first option for almost any business. With these elements in place, you will be able to report on advertising performance and in best case have an accurate cost per sale for your marketing campaign.

A first draft marketing plan

A marketing plan should be a working document that develops and improves as your products evolve and you learn more about your customers. Because it changes regularly, it often makes sense to create time based plans or programs that identify marketing programs that will be executed within a specific time frame like 6 or 12 months.

There are a lot of very important components in a comprehensive marketing plan, but some are more important than others when it comes to actionable information. Below is a list of headings that could be used to create a first draft of your marketing plan to get you up and running in a meaningful and efficient way.

  • Business initiatives and programs

    • What are our goals and how do we measure them?
    • Your Content Goes Here
  • Target Market

    • Who are our customers?
  • Market Strategy

    • Product, Price and Messaging
  • Budget

  • Marketing Channels

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