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Six Overlooked Components in Most Marketing Plans

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When you first come up with a grand marketing idea, it’s tempting to kick it into motion as soon as possible. It feels like there’s no time to waste, and the idea is sure to be a hit. Unfortunately, this is how even the most promising marketing efforts fail. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. But even if you sit down and develop a marketing plan, you may overlook many key areas when you’re in a rush. Most successful marketing strategies play out in the long term, and they’re a collective series of events and actions as opposed to one idea or promotion. Let’s take a moment to consider some of those components you may overlook as you’re creating your latest marketing strategy.

6 Things You May Overlook in Your Marketing Plan

Below, here are six essential elements of every marketing plan that don’t always get their fair share of attention:

1. Goals

Set your goals before you do any major planning. Make sure you choose realistic goals, more commonly referred to as SMART goals. By setting the bar too high, you’re more likely to fail — then, it’ll be harder to measure the success and impact of your campaign. Without set goals, it’s nearly impossible to gauge what’s working, what’s not and to what degree. This also makes it difficult to fine-tune active campaigns and grow them organically. You’re essentially stuck in a train barreling to its final destination, hell or high water. Remember, you can always establish a new goal after you’ve achieved one. Alternatively, you can create them using a tiered approach. Once you meet goal A, move on to goal B and then later goal C. Bear in mind, the more you have your heart set on one idea, the harder it may be to shift in another direction if the first one doesn’t pan out. Some examples include:
  • Increase foot traffic for a local store by 5%.
  • Boost sales by 10% by the end of the current quarter.
  • Surpass 1 million fresh website visitors by the end of the year.
  • Increase your social media followers by 1,000 by the end of the month.
Pro Tip: Always avoid vague goals like “increase leads” or “boost sales” because they’re open-ended and there’s no way to track your progress.

2. Deadlines

It’s easy to forget about your calendar when you’re so focused on everything else. Setting a goal tells you what your overall mission is, but choosing a deadline helps establish your timeline. How much time will it take to reach that goal if everything goes according to plan? When do you know things are not working or not on track? Once you’ve reached a deadline, you can explore where to go next. If things aren’t working and you’re far behind, it’s probably time to start fresh. If you’re on track, then maybe you can set the bar a little higher. Either way, you need a point in time to stop, analyze and move forward. It can be a few weeks, six months or even a couple years. Pro Tip: Don’t choose a single deadline and call it a day. Structure your campaign so there are milestones scattered throughout the journey.

3. Customer Personas

 Choosing a broad demographic, like males 28 to 35 years old, is not ideal because there’s no specificity. Unfortunately, you can’t begin to specify if you don’t know who your target audience is. The common way to deal with this is to create market segments, but there’s also a more granular way to approach it. By establishing or defining user personas, you truly get to know your average customer. Besides their age, where do they work? How much money do they make? What are their interests and hobbies? How often do they go on vacation? What streaming services do they use? Leave no stone unturned. It will take more effort than usual and requires lots of research, but the payoff is worth it. In the end, you’ll know exactly who you’re targeting, what they want and how you can tailor your marketing campaign for them. That way, you can make various aspects of your marketing strategy — like your calls to action — more actionable and effective for your users. Pro Tip: You’re already doing market and customer research — don’t stop or create an entirely new process. Merely restructure your program to find more specific information about your customers.

4. Competition

 Whether you’re a niche business or not, you need to be aware of what your competition is doing. Not just because your efforts need to stand out by boosting your brand visibility, but also because you may have to respond to their commentary and marketing schemes. Moreover, if their marketing strategy is overpowering yours — like offering a steep discount on services — you’ll need to plan and take action. Their target audience is likely either the same as or similar to yours. You can use that to your advantage. If they do something that doesn’t work or outright fails, you know to avoid it. If they have mediocre success using a strategy similar to the one you have, you know to adapt it to improve performance. Pro Tip: Check up on your competitors regularly, as opposed to before a campaign or long after. Sustained monitoring will allow for more precise pivots or changes if and when you need to make them.

5. Omnichannel

Even if you’re targeting a niche demographic, you won’t reach all your customers using a single marketing channel. You must be prepared to meet your customers where they are, which requires building an omnichannel campaign. During your planning, you should incorporate as many platforms or channels as possible. For example, brick and mortar customers may not always visit a local store to purchase items. They may do so online via mobile or web. If you’re using social media, incorporate multiple platforms. If you’re engaging online customers, consider desktop, mobile and standard web users. Branch out when and where you can. Pro Tip: If you’re having trouble choosing channels or platforms, use customer polls to learn what they’re using and on what scale.

6. Endgame

 Always have a follow-up or backup plan prepared. Once you hit that deadline and you’ve either succeeded or failed at meeting your goals, the world doesn’t stop. You likely won’t have time to create a new long-term marketing strategy, especially if you’ve had a ton of success — it would be a shame to waste that momentum. You should be firing on all cylinders even long after you’ve crossed that finish line. What worked and what didn’t? How can you leverage that information going forward? How can you follow up on the current marketing strategy? Is there an opportunity for a long series? Pro Tip: Rather than establishing a plan at a single point in time, craft and mold it as your marketing journey plays out. This allows you to make adjustments beforehand so by the time the endgame rolls around, you’re ready to implement your next steps.

Take Your Time

Creating a reliable and in-depth marketing plan is no small feat, so take your time. It’s one of the best ways to ensure you don’t overlook these common components. You should also be rolling that information and experience over every time you start a new marketing journey.

Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.