Constructing a Marketing Action Plan
In order to run a successful business, it is essential to have an overarching goal to work towards and a plan for how you aim to get from your situation today to where you want to be in the future.
When it comes to constructing a plan which is going to help you get from point A to point B, the name isn’t really important. Whether you call it a plan or a strategy it is the contents which are vital. Without some kind of roadmap, it’s all too easy to meander from day to day without an end in mind and no idea of how you are going to get there.
For the purposes of this short guide I am going to use the term Marketing Action Plan (MAP) as a reminder that a plan without action isn’t purposeful. Every element will require action that moves you closer to your goal.
The MAP will include:
- an overview of the current state of the business
- a vision statement
- goals for the planning period
- a gap analysis, and
- an action plan which is needed to fill the gaps
This Marketing Action Plan forms part of your Business Plan which will include more detail about operations, finance, suppliers, administration, etc.
Within the MAP there will be a number of broad strategies; for example you might have an online marketing strategy and an offline marketing strategy, or strategies for different product lines or different customer segments. The more complex your business the more complex the MAP but the emphasis should be on keeping it as streamlined as possible.
Crucial to this planning phase is not to try to include too many alternatives otherwise you will suffer from ‘the paradox of choice’ – in short, if you are attempting to evaluate too many alternatives at the same time, you’ll end up suffering from ‘decision overload’. When faced with too many choices it is easy to procrastinate or to be paralysed into inaction.
Additionally, too much time on the planning stage with result in less time for implementation.
For each marketing strategy you will need to choose a number of tactics as set out in Parts 3 and 4. Therefore, for each strategy you will select three or four tactics to meet your goals for that product or product category. By limiting the number of tactics, you are more likely to implement each tactic effectively.
Constraints on Implementation
It is worthwhile considering at this point the limited resources of both time and money. We all have the same 24 hours a day – a finite resource which requires careful allocation. The only way we can increase the time to work on our business is to ‘buy’ more hours by taking on another team member, either full or part-time, virtual or in-house. This can be for one-off projects or on a more permanent basis.
Money is the other limited resource and, whilst not finite, it constrains our opportunities. Once you have determined a marketing system that gives a significant return on investment it is then time to scale up. Until you have carried out your audit, developed your MAP and tested your tactics it is difficult to set a budget.
Estimate the amount of time and the budget required to implement your MAP by costing out each tactic in terms of hours and money.
In the early stages there will demands on both these resources. As you become more skilled at the tactics so the need for training will diminish and the time it takes to put together content, social media and send email newsletters, for example, will reduce. Your library of images will increase as will your case studies and testimonials. At the end of a few months, your marketing will become much more streamlined.
Your MAP belongs to you and your business. Your goals are personal and there is no right or wrong answer to the question ‘What is your vision?’ Everyone’s time-scale is different and will depend on many factors – personal circumstances, financial situation, ambition, family commitments, etc. In chapter 10 of the Homepreneur book there is more information on decision making and goal setting.
Personally, I like to have a 1-year MAP and 90-day Marketing Strategies made up of a set of tactics. The aim is not to implement everything all at once but to hone your skills on a few marketing tactics. The unsuccessful ones will be discarded, and the successful ones scaled up.
Here is an example:
Marketing Action Plan for 2019
Marketing Strategy for Product A
Marketing Tactic 1 – Networking
Marketing Tactic 2 – Social media: Facebook
Marketing Tactic 3 – Autoresponder sequence
Marketing Strategy for Product B
Marketing Tactic 2 – Social media: LinkedIn
Marketing Tactic 4 – Strategic alliance – web developers
Marketing Strategy for Product C
Marketing Tactic 1 – Networking
Marketing Tactic 3 – Monthly email newsletter
Marketing Tactic 4 – Strategic alliance – graphic designers
This can also be presented in tabular form:
|Networking||Social media||Email marketing||Strategic alliances|
|Product A||London Meetup||Autoresponder sequence|
|Product B||Web developers|
|Product C||Cambridge networkers||Monthly newsletter||Graphic designers|
In the next three blog posts in the series, I have set out simplified Marketing Action Plans for three different types of business: