If you’re a loyal follower of our digital agency blog (or just a natural inbound marketer at heart) you’re probably already well aware of the importance of having a marketing strategy. But you’re a hip and sophisticated business professional, so you also know the work doesn’t end there.
As every human being (and every creature) needs to evolve, so too does your marketing plan. This isn’t one of those blog posts where you have to wait until the end for the answer to the question in the headline. We’re going to tell you straight up: No, if your marketing plan doesn’t evolve, it isn’t any good. End of story. Class dismissed.
Just kidding! Stay tuned—there are a few very real and very important reasons why your marketing plan needs to evolve, and how well you understand these reasons will directly impact how well said evolution is executed. Let’s dig in.
Marketing strategy vs. marketing plan
First thing’s first, you need to understand the difference between a marketing strategy and a marketing plan. Although the two aren’t that far off from each other in definition and are sometimes used interchangeably, we want to be as clear as possible.
When we say marketing plan, we’re talking about how you categorize your day-to-day work, whereas a marketing strategy is the larger reference document for your marketing. Your marketing plan feeds into your marketing strategy as the daily implementation. The nuts and bolts. The crossed t’s and the dotted i’s. The brass tacks. We’ll stop now.
Why does my marketing plan need to evolve?
We’re glad you asked! There are three major variables that contribute to and influence your marketing plan. It just so happens that these three major variables are also likely to change, so keeping an eye on how they change and adjusting your marketing accordingly should be high on your to-do list. Lucky you!
The great Stevie Nicks once wrote, “Well I’ve been afraid of changin’ cause I’ve built my life around you.” Let’s not take this approach to your marketing plan. It’s normal to be skeptical of change if your current marketing plan is working “just fine,” but trust us when we say that if your marketing plan doesn’t evolve, it’s bound to come crashing down sooner or later. That’s because technology, the market, and the confluence of the two often turn what you’ve done successfully for years into a dusty set of fossils with surprising speed. So let’s get into those main variables a little more:
This one’s straight out of the inbound methodology handbook. Outbound marketing fails to do the one thing that inbound marketing was essentially founded on: treating consumers like the human beings they are. Your marketing plan needs to evolve right along with those customers. How else would you be able to reach them?
Your marketing plan needs to evolve to reflect both your current client base as well as your prospects, accounting for everything from who they are, to what they want, to what they need (whether they know it or not) and—especially—how they go about finding it.
We’re talking about the channels they use, the sources they trust, the keywords they plug into Google (or Bing), and all of the other methods and tools we humans use to seek out the answers to our questions. Because if you’re trying to provide the answer to those questions through your marketing plan (as any good content marketer would), you have put those answers where they’ll be found, and people are constantly coming up with new ways to get information.
Speaking of reaching your audience, let’s turn our attention to the primary avenue through which you can do just that. Technology is one of the most fast-paced industries in existence, undergoing massive changes every single day and setting the tone for how people interact with each other.
For your digital marketing plan—the operative word being digital—to possess any credibility at all, you need to ensure that it implements the latest trends in technology like social media best practices, user experience breakthroughs, web design, search engine optimization, automation, artificial intelligence, and much more.
Look around your office. Do you see all of the same faces as you did a few years ago? Probably not. In 2018, company structures and dynamics are much more fluid than they used to be. Chances are, the people who were executing your inbound marketing plan a few months ago have either been promoted or have moved on. These kinds of internal changes can affect the way your marketing plan is executed and how different tasks are delegated and to whom. Your plan should change with that.
How often should I look at my marketing plan?
At the very least, a marketing plan should be updated on an annual basis to accurately reflect your goals, your client base, available technology, and the internal structure of your company. A great way to ensure that your marketing plan is as up-to-date and relevant as possible is to lock in the support of a partner agency. Just be sure to find one that specializes in cutting-edge digital marketing strategies, best practices, and implementation.