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What Is a Marketing Plan and Why Do You Need One?
A marketing plan is the driving force of any organization, profit, or nonprofit. It spells the difference between one company’s long-term success versus another’s long-forgotten fads. However, a marketing plan is more than just advertising concepts. It requires research, a marketing team willing to deliver, and a good understanding of the audience and what they’re looking for. In short, they’re about people.
Planning a marketing strategy that doesn’t leave your campaign lifeless despite its traditional creativity means putting enough emphasis on your online, or your social media reach. Plan for the internet, because that’s where people are. What do you want to tell your audience? This question and a lot more will be critical when you develop the strategies that come with a marketing plan that wins people.
The Building Blocks of a Winning Marketing Plan
People consume content daily, and with each content they consume, they become more and more sensitive to the kind of information they want to see, get, or read. With that said, it’s safe to say that today’s consumers are more ad-savvy, so you need to make sure that your marketing team pays close attention to every component of a marketing plan. In doing so, they will also be able to avoid any marketing faux pas that could ruin your chances at brand building and recognition:
There’s no denying that without a marketing plan, a company will suffer poor profit returns on top of a great divorce with the customer base it worked hard to build. In this article, we provide steps and tips to help you develop a marketing plan and a great selection of samples you can work with.
What Fueled the Rise of Mass Marketing?
The history of marketing goes as far back as the printing revolution when Johannes Guttenberg invented the printing press in 1450. Then came the Renaissance, sweeping Europe towards the wave of mass communication, and altogether changing the course of Western society. The relatively unrestricted way to which information was produced and shared, gave people, especially merchants and businessmen newfound freedom and opportunity to market products in every known trade.
Later on, the motor industry and Uncle Sam’s Industrial Revolution as a whole defined the mid-nineteenth century of American consumerism. The growing market for goods and the demand for motor transportation posed an all-too timely need to bring the economy together. As a result, the production and distribution of branded products soared nationally, enforcing a broader landscape for mass marketing.
Modern, Mad 50’s
Marketing as a practice may have existed for well over a thousand years. However, the current concepts were nowhere near enough established until the late 1950s when Postwar America and its advertising heyday saw the City that Never Sleeps explode with marketing campaigns of every printed form all over Mad Avenue. As a result, people consider the 1950s and early 60s as the birth of the brands we still use to this day, according to The Atlantic.
Eventually, an effective marketing plan meant a good understanding of the modern-day consumer, which would set a businessman two steps ahead of his competitors. The development of a branded proposition came with building a relationship with the target consumer on an emotional level. Suddenly, marketing wasn’t just a function. It was and still is, a conversation with the audience. That is why the marketing concept puts focus on the audience’s wants and needs as opposed to just the sales targets and the product or service itself—history told us so. Who are we to defy the lessons of marketing’s golden age?
Gen Y’s Digital Domination
As millennials reach the prime of their lives, they continue to set the tide for marketing’s power shift from traditional to digital, making themselves mostly dependent on online platform conversations when it comes to their purchasing decisions. Millennials are well-informed, message-savvy, and are therefore not easily fooled. A Forbes article sees targeting marketing efforts to Millenials as something as personal as it is practical. If you want their allegiance, you need to show this giant of a base that you know where to reach them and how.
On the other hand, if your marketing plan ends up with a campaign far removed from customer engagement, they’re bound to swipe left and forget about you.
Social Media and the Millennial
An example of the millennials’ online reach shows in another report by Forbes, where marketing trends for next year included shopper-friendly posts. The same report showed 72% of Instagram users shopped straight from the app and that 70% out of 4,000 Pinterest users trust the selection of ideas and new products they discover browsing the app every day.
Therefore, it makes sense to trust the power of every social networking platform to get enough visibility, and so much more. Marketing on social media platforms also evens out the playing field, which is very helpful for small businesses that wouldn’t have enough resources to compete with Just Do It-worthy ads.
Gen Y, America’s, and probably the world’s largest generational market yet have been toppling every other consumer group long before they had full-paying jobs. Emotionally diverse, politically involved, and environmentally active, Gen Y’s unrelenting influential global reach is hard to ignore. They may have received twice the amount of stereotypes their early predecessors took, but no other market is displacing the millennials’ claim to digital and overall consumer power. If you haven’t focused your plan on the people that make up a large part of today’s consumer spending, then you probably need to rethink that plan and tailor it to this generation—a generation that knows how to boss the times, front and center.
Millennials grew up with the internet and are practically the rock stars of social media. As a result, Gen Y dominates modern consumerism, making up a large part of today’s marketing and entertainment focus. So from being an entertainment platform, social media became arguably the most powerful marketing tool for many organizations the world over and hadn’t looked back since.
How Do You Create a Marketing Plan?
If you look at five decades’ worth of ads, you’ll find out how control shifted from marketers to consumers who embraced ads as a trade-off for the message they wanted to see and get. The audience wielded power, leaning more and more to the endless possibilities that technology had to offer, especially when it came to rich, vivid, and consumer-yielding content. They knew what they wanted.
It’s also evident that not all campaigns are created equal. And the wittiest catchphrases, slogans that stick, and intriguing TV ads, have a way of making it to the consumer’s split-second buying decisions. Is it the product, or is it the unusual swaying of the campaign that makes the most established brands earn their staying power and market domination? Follow these steps to find out.
Step 1: Target and Understand Your Niche
Markets are made. And you can’t have yours if you don’t know the type of consumers that would consider your product or service beneficial. You also can’t draft a marketing plan without knowing the customer base you want to build. So, identify your niche because that’s where every crucial piece of marketing strategy starts.
Moreover, targeting your audience will ensure that your plan has a strong foundation. Go back to the consumer part of the marketing concept. To tailor your product to the audience, you’ve got to have a good grasp of their needs and wants. And if your campaign doesn’t provide the answers your audience is looking for, you’re not going to convince them.
Step 2: Identify the Marketing Objectives
As with any organization, you have to define the goals with which you’re building your brand. The best way around this is by establishing objectives. Having clear or well-defined objectives sets the course for measurable results achieved on time. It also helps the planning process run smoothly because everyone in the team will be prepared to evaluate a particular campaign’s effectiveness or success. Furthermore, objectives help a marketing team in making sure that every part of the planning process—from expectations to collaboration and teamwork—is aligned. Aside from that, the crucial components of your objectives should focus on these requirements; measurable, targeted, and time-conscious.
Step 3: Conduct a SWOT Analysis
A business should not miss out on running a SWOT analysis. The primary goal of this part of the planning process allows an organization to determine business-defining decisions and develop a more in-depth knowledge of what’s at stake in decision-making. By going over the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, a business can better analyze the environment with which it would structure its marketing plan. Conducting the analysis should be seen as a collaborative effort for the marketing team, and not just a requirement to complete the plan. And since you’ll be working with the team, make sure that everyone contributes to the analysis. After that, you can proceed to analyze your competitors.
Step 4: Say Your Message Well
Struggling to stay relevant as Reebok sold its shoes like hotcakes during the late ’80s, Nike and its unrelenting marketing team adopted a campaign slogan, which became a testament to trying harder just when you think you and your goals are falling apart. Just Do It was a brand-defining phrase for today’s most popular and probably most prominent footwear and sports apparel company.
Let’s look at another campaign that played a pivotal role in the success of our favorite tech giant. Without much reference to the actual product, Apple’s marketing team launched “Think Different” in 1997 with several commercial ads. Its historical impact is unprecedented as Apple released billion-dollars worth revenue year-on-year since. From a hodgepodge of rough drafts and a “To the Crazy Ones” storyline, “Think Different” would forever be reminiscent of the tech giant’s late larger-than-life founder, and the culture of design rebelliousness he created.
If you want brand recognition, Apple or not, you have to be just as bold in saying your message. What do you think your audience would want to hear? Plan the narrative of your campaign, then go right ahead and say it.
Step 5: Plan towards a Powerful Campaign
After days, weeks, and months of brainstorming and countless proposals and ideas getting rejected, you now have the roadmap to a compelling marketing strategy. However, you can’t just stop and take a break. You aren’t done yet. You need to make sure that the marketing plan you and your team completed provides the path towards a campaign that would get people talking for the right reasons. The best campaigns are built from an emotional connection with the audience. They are diverse, sensitive, and socially aware.
Marketing is the lifeblood of business. Whether you’re an independent contractor, a small diner with modest yearly returns, or part of a reasonably large corporation, you need to win your customers. This is only possible if your marketing plan provides the right road map in winning your audience over. Then win them over and over again, after that.
The most iconic marketing campaigns played a pivotal role in many of today’s most valuable companies’ business-defining moments. Some of them even went as far as having political statements tailored to the thinking masses. Others were wisecrack trains you found yourself hopping on. And some of them were the most phenomenal, powerful statements, etched in the history of American entrepreneurship and consumerism.