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Launch your marketing plan in six steps

Updated: Dec 13, 2022

Rocket launch image marketing planning

If you don't have a marketing plan but would like to try creating your own simplified version, we can walk you through six simplified stages to help you do just that.

Marketing planning is a great way to make your marketing efforts more effective and more measurable straight away.

Why bother?

As a 100 year-old practice, marketing isn't new. And while the marketing tactics we choose may change over time, how we effectively plan our marketing shouldn't.

Marketing teams make plans so that they can decide on priorities, set goals, and take actions to achieve those goals. They can measure their success. They can also make sure their marketing goals are delivering on the overall goals of the business. In short, it's so everything they do has a reason behind it. Don't waste time and money on undirected marketing.

Planning your marketing involves looking at all the information available to you, deciding exactly what you want to achieve, and then deciding which marketing tactics you'll use to try and achieve those goals.

Marketing tactics?

By marketing tactics we mean that Facebook advert you're thinking about running, or the flyer you've printing 10,000 copies of and are ready to distribute. These are tactics - they're the output, the activities, the execution of your marketing plan. These decisions come last after the

Here are our six steps for creating your own 12 month marketing plan.

Step 1. Build a picture

A big organisation can spend a long time on the research stage, but using just the basic information available to you (see a quick breakdown below) can still help you to be more effective with your marketing straight away.

Your current business situation

Spend some time on the internet and get an up-to-date picture of what's happening in the wider market you operate in. How big is your market? Are there changes coming that are likely to impact on your business? Make a list of the opportunities and threats in the wider market place using a SWOT analysis.

Now it's time to be honest. Look at the strengths and weaknesses within your business. Consider what you do well, what needs improvement. Note these down in your SWOT too, and stand back and admire your work so far.

Your customers

What do your customers look like? What unites them, what is typical about them? Gather as much data as you can about your leads, your customers and your online audiences. What you can find out able them will help you to build a picture of them and separate them into different groups in Step 2. Maybe you have two or three different types of customer?

Your competitors

Have you checked out the competition lately? Step into your customer's shoes and spend some time browsing competitors to see what they offer, what they do differently, and how they engage with their customers. Sign up to their newsletter. Check out their socials.

Read our post on Identifying Your Target Audience for more information on this step.

Step 2: Group your audiences

Otherwise known as segmentation, this stage is about breaking up your audience into smaller groups of potential customers that have things in common, behave similarly, and perhaps look alike. This is important because, if you can narrow down a group so the people in it become more similar, then you can deliver more targeted marketing actions to each group.

Segmentation can be a complex process for companies with big audiences and many types of customer, but if you're a small business you may feel you have already discovered a lot about your audience in step 1.

You can group customers by age group, gender, purchase history, or location. If you hold a customer database, you'll have this information.

Using free social media insights and website analytics, you can look at more demographic information, plus what type of followers you have, where they live, which posts they have liked best.

The important thing to take from this step is that your marketing will be more effective if you don't treat all your customers the same.

Identifying a couple of different groups will give you more power to give each group exactly what they want.

A simple example might be that you have two clearly defined age groups in your audience. One is older and your data tells you that they like one product much more than any another, and that they engage with you on Facebook mostly. The other group are younger, they like a wider range of products and they contact you through Instagram. Instantly, you can see different product lines to promote to these different audiences, and different ways to communicate with each of them. You might speak differently to each audience.You can give the customer what they want, on the platform they use most.

Step 3: Picking which groups to target

So you have done the hardest parts! You've put in the effort, done your research and you have a 'map' of the market with the different groups of people you could potentially target with your marketing.

If you've come up with multiple audiences in the last stage, you'll want to think about which ones to pick for your marketing.

Things to consider: The more groups you target, the more budget and time you will need to commit. If you are a solo or small business, you'll want to pick two or three at most. Look back at your own strengths and weaknesses at this point; there will be some audience segments you feel you can't compete in, and that's ok. Once you have chosen your target segments, you can decide how best to reach each one.

Step 4: Your position in your market

Positioning is all about understanding where your brand and your product or service sits against your competitors, in the minds of customers. What distinguishes you from the others? Does your price set you apart and how? Do you offer things that your competitors don't? Do your customers perceive you as high-end or luxury?

You may have different positions in the market with different products, and you may position yourself differently when marketing to the different audience segments discussed above.

Here's a great example of a positioning map for popular chocolate bars, which we have borrowed from Check them out for more advice on positioning.

Step 5: Set some objectives

Don't stress over setting objectives, just make sure they feed into to your bigger business goals and are not too complicated. Only set two or three so they are achievable.

Marketers work to a set of SMART rules for objectives, which are worth sharing. Make your objectives:

- Specific (state the goal clearly)

- Measurable (ensure you can evaluate the results of your efforts by adding some metrics or targets)

- Achievable (be realistic and choose objectives you know you can actually accomplish!)

- Relevant (this is going to improve your business in some way, right?)

- Timing (set yourself some end dates for objectives and try to stick to them).

There are any number of things you can choose, from improving the number of leads you get each month, to increasing web traffic, to increasing brand awareness. And remember to add in that metric so you can measure your success - increase leads by 10%, for example.

Step 6: Plan your tactics

Now that you have your plan in place you can move onto planning the marketing activities (or tactics, in marketing speak) that will help you achieve your objectives.

Refer back to that picture you've built; you know which customers you are going to target based on everything you've done above, and you know how best to reach them. How much simpler is this now?!

If one of your objectives is to increase leads by 10%, some examples of marketing activities that might support that objective are:

- Plan an advert or social media campaign that drives more traffic to your website

- Offer an incentive to new customers

- Book a stand at a trade fair

All of these things can feed into achieving that 10% lead increase you're aiming for.

There's a huge array of marketing tactics to choose from. Some are free, many are not, and if you have a marketing budget you're always going to be able to do more.

Don't be afraid to try out different things to see how they work for you. Employing a range of different activities to support one objective is always advisable, rather than just one. Here's a quick list to get you started:

  • Organic social media (posting to your own channels)

  • Paid advertising (social media, paid search, digital display ads, outdoor advertising, print advertising, radio, television - there are endless options)

  • Email (to your own contacts, such as a newsletter, or perhaps by buying a mailing list)

  • Blogging (generates content for your social media and traffic to your site)

  • Videos (Either professional or home-made to showcase your business formally and behind the scenes)

  • Podcasts (becoming more and more popular)

  • Trade shows / Events (Dependent on your business, and particularly useful for B2B businesses, events can be a great but sometimes costly way to showcase your business).

  • Direct mail (Leaflets, postcards, brochures)

  • Sponsorship (sponsor an event, a podcast or show, or a team perhaps)

  • Collaboration (try working with another organisation to do something different)

  • Endorsement/ influencer (This doesn't have to mean celebrities, it could be someone local whose opinion matters)

  • Testimonials (use customer feedback to full advantage by sharing on ads and channels)

  • Good old-fashioned phone calls

And a vital point we must not miss out as we draw this to a close (let's call it secret step 7) is the importance of reviewing your results at the end of a cycle, and feeding these into your next annual plan. Learn from mistakes, notice what worked, and use that to inform your next set of goals.

You did it

A quick disclaimer - there's a lot more detail we could go into here, at every stage! But if you're not a marketer, and you're self-employed or running a small business, then this is a good starting point for having a go at marketing planning yourself. And it's a great way to understand how information is vital to marketing success.

Get in touch if you have questions, or would like further advice or help with your planning - and good luck!


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