If you want a successful marketing campaign, be it digital, print, or social media, you need a plan. Without a strong plan backed by analysis and facts, you could find your marketing falling flat, landing on deaf ears, or worse— no ears at all. A strong marketing plan will help your brand stand out against the flurry of media competing for your audience’s attention. This guide shows you why your business needs a marketing plan, and the steps that are taken to ensure your success!
Understanding Your Business
The first step in having marketing success is gaining an understanding of the parts of your business that are the most marketable, the story you want to tell, and the values that you want to show the world. A great way to do that is to have a Communications Audit and a Brand Analysis completed for your business. An audit of your communications and an analysis of your brand will help you understand the viewpoints of everyone that interacts with your company. As a result, we can identify the strengths and weaknesses of your current communications, as well as providing recommendations to move your marketing and communications forward in the most effective way possible.
You will have the opportunity to see exactly why specific strategies, language, schedules, and visuals are recommended for YOUR business specifically.
What Goes into a Communications Audit and a Brand Analysis?
First, we will assess your audiences. In this step, we determine how these audiences interact with your current communications, such as your media that they engage with, and who is producing these communications. Remember that not all communications are external marketing material and having a consistent voice and message across all communications, internal and external, is extremely important to constructing your business’ brand identity.
Clearly defined audiences let us directly target members of your audience with content made to specifically appeal to them. Developing audience personas is one of the best ways to do this. These are representations of segments of your audience that flesh out specific demographics like age, gender, location, interests, likes and dislikes, preferred social media platforms, media types that they are more likely to interact with, and recommendations on how to appeal to them.
Second, it is necessary to analyze your current communications and media, both internal communications and external marketing materials. In this step we will analyze your social media accounts, website content, and any internal documents.
Social media content analysis is a great example of this. In this stage we assess your social media content for effectiveness (i.e., engagement, reach, and other standard social media analytics), the level of the expression of your brand and its values, and how frequent the posts have been. This will allow us to develop recommendations on how to best move forward with a content strategy.
We want your own critical feedback to your current marketing and communications. What media do you think are most effective? What are the least effective? Where would you like to see improvement? We encourage you to cast a critical eye on your own communications.
Third, we will draft a full analysis of your communications’ Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT). That will be followed by a report on our recommendations to level up all your content and communications moving forward! This report will be our bible for creating a marketing and communications plan. We will be able to consistently refer to it to provide reasoning and justification for content, media, messaging, and scheduling decisions as we start to make your marketing dreams a reality.
Understanding Your Competition
The next tool in your communications and marketing plan utility belt is a Competitive Analysis. This is when we find out what your competition is up to. We will comb through everything that we can access from your competitors (largely their digital content like webpages and social media channels).
Who do you see as your direct competitors? This can be companies that provide similar services to yours and share the same market due to geographical location. We will go a step further and analyze indirect competitors that may be providing a similar set of services or products in another country or region. This will be an assessment of the strengths of each of these business’ marketing and communications material. What makes them successful? Why do they have so many followers? What is their engagement strategy? Which key messages do they emphasize? Do they focus on video, photographic, or written content?
Every aspect of your competition’s marketing material will be looked at from all angles so that we can take advantage of the testing and experimentation that they have already done. You can think of us as communications naturalists studying marketing in the wild. Why do they do what they do, how do they do it, and what can we learn from it? This is absolutely no indication that content and strategies from your competition will make their way into your marketing plan. Quite the opposite in fact. We believe that you are in business because you have something unique to offer, and we do not want to be doing exactly what your competition is doing. We want to create a unique reflection of your brand and business, and we want that reflection to shine.
This is probably the most important tool for creating marketing material that demonstrates your brand identity and your unique values. With the brand analysis in our toolkit we know what about your branding works and what does not. Now we are ready to nail down the messaging we will use to communicate your business’ unique identity and values.
We will start with messages that encompass the goals of your marketing campaign. With this messaging we aim to answer the questions: What does your company do? How does it do it? How is your company different? You can think of these as your “slogans” or value statements.
With a list of value statements, we can then define what we call Tone Words. Tone words will, unsurprisingly, define the tone of written content. It is best to have these tone words in place to give all of your written communications distinct messages. Tone words are built out of your value statements. That means that they will all work towards the same goal of communicating your business’ value in unique and fresh ways every time they are used.
Your business needs a marketing plan to define its identity through messaging and to lead to this point. Together, your value statements and tone words define your key messaging strategy. With your value statements defined, you will know exactly what your marketing campaign is trying to communicate. With your tone words you will know exactly how to communicate it.
Consistency is king in all aspects of marketing. Creating consistency across all of your content is one of the key reasons why your business needs a marketing plan. Without it, your marketing material will not be memorable to your audience, nor will they associate the content you create with your business.
You want all your marketing material and content to be immediately recognizable to your audience. This means defining everything from fonts, colours, and graphic design; along with where, when, and how to use them.
Every tool we have gone through until now has been leading to this. We can develop a strategy that encompasses your key messaging and visual identity into concrete and cohesive content.
Content types accomplish specific messaging goals and be crafted to appeal to specific segments of your audience. Having defined content types allows your marketing campaign to be fresh yet stay consistent and attached to your key messaging. Some examples of content types could be informative videos, behind-the-scenes photographs of your business operations, staff profiles, product highlights, or client testimonials.
Your business needs a marketing plan because it guarantees that the marketing material we create for you will be well-defined, specific to your brand and created to appeal directly to your current and potential customer base. The marketing plan provides all the necessary tools to create beautiful and effective content and marketing material and showing the world what makes your business so great.