In the age of life hacks, listicles, and three-minute tutorials, there’s a whole subculture that prioritizes and idealizes reaching perfection via the easiest and fastest remedy. When it comes to your marketing plan, you can forget about this 21st-century phenomenon.
In the case of marketing plans, there are a few core elements that separate the good from the bad from the run-of-the-mill. This isn’t about perfection; this isn’t about the quick fix. This is about passing muster.
We’ve been doing this long enough to know that a well-thought-out marketing plan with a sturdy foundation will beat out a so-called “perfect” marketing plan every time. Every single time. So exit out of your YouTube tutorials, stop yourself from Googling “19 Tips For Creating a Marketing Plan,” and don’t you dare click on #MarketingHack!
What exactly does it take for a marketing plan to pass muster and, more importantly, does your marketing plan have it? Let’s find out. (We’ll reference some terms you may not be familiar with in this post so feel free to check out our inbound marketing definitions if you’re wondering what we’re talking about.)
What makes for a good marketing plan?
Great question! Before we get into the good stuff, it’s important to note that the difference in your marketing strategy and your marketing plan comes down to application. A marketing plan is your actionable, day-to-day execution. Your marketing strategy, on the other hand, is the reference document for your larger marketing philosophy.
Now that we got that out of the way, it’s time to sift through the fluff and dig out which elements you should focus on nailing down. Like we said, marketing plans are all about getting the ball rolling, so here are some smart moves that will help you do just that.
Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound goals, or SMART goals, are at the heart of any solid marketing plan. This handy acronym will help you pin down the who, what, where, when, why, and how of your marketing plan, making it easier to communicate the plan to the rest of your team while also pushing you to hold yourself accountable for the progress that you’ve made—or lack thereof.
Content Planning Calendar
No marketing plan is complete without a content planning calendar. We’re talking about a living document that rallies the troops, organizes your efforts, and tracks your progress—not the crumpled to-do list withering away at the bottom of your trash can.
Content planning is much more involved than just slapping a few blog post ideas on a whiteboard and calling it a day. Once you’ve updated your buyer personas, decided on a few content offers, and brainstormed and written supporting blog posts, you’re going to need that one document to refer to when it comes time to publish. If you’re new to content creation, it’s easy to assume that the actual writing part would be the most challenging, but publishing is right up there with it.
Social Media Calendar
It’s no secret that social media can be a little hectic and overwhelming, and the same can be said for social media marketing. There’s a lot to consider: you have to figure out a posting cadence, remember to share new content, double check dates (don’t forget holidays!), and add emojis, images, or GIFs to not one, not two, but maybe even three or four different social media channels.
But social media marketing doesn’t have to be headache inducing—in fact, it shouldn’t be. With a social media calendar, you can keep track of your social schedule, plan ahead of time, and see exactly which piece of content is going to be shared for which campaign, on which platform, at what time.
Email marketing is a staple of any healthy marketing plan and anyone who insists otherwise is dreaming. Although it might be the oldest form of online communication, email has withstood the test of time and remains one of the most powerful tools for lead nurturing to this day.
Email marketing employs targeted messaging and personalization to engage prospects and drive click-through rates. The beauty of email marketing lies in the unique ability to know exactly who you’re connecting with—something that can’t be done with a website or social media.
Even though the inbound methodology is grounded in the novel idea that marketers should treat prospects like the individual human beings they are, you still need to quantify and organize them. This is where lead scoring comes into play as a points system for your contacts to help determine the overall value of your efforts.
Automation is the one shortcut that marketers rely pretty heavily on, but not without putting in the grunt work first. While automation could be considered a fast and easy remedy, it’s nowhere near the realm of a life hack or a quick fix.
Marketing automation tools help across the board to organize and streamline all of your marketing efforts. We’ll admit it: without automation, we’d probably be a little lost and drowning in social media scheduling and email workflows.
Does your marketing plan pass muster?
Did you notice a common theme among all of the devices we’ve talked about in this blog post? If you guessed organization, you’re spot on. A marketing plan that puts an emphasis on organization is a marketing plan that can hold its own.
If you’re still clinging to that stale and allegedly “perfect” marketing plan that hasn’t been updated since 2013, we’d love to help you get out of that rut. Contact us today to find out if your marketing plan passes muster and what you can do to make it so.