The difference between a marketing plan and a marketing strategy are concepts that some small business owners have difficulty in understanding. And because they aren’t clearly understood, some entrepreneurs don’t bother to create them and that’s a mistake.
The lack of a marketing plan and strategies present the following problems:
• Ideal client or target market not identified;
• Your offer may not align with the needs of your ideal client/market;
• You have no specific, time-bound goals to achieve and therefore;
• You can’t measure your results;
• You’re Guessing a lot and not really getting anywhere!
A Marketing Plan is simply a written statement about your marketing strategies and any time-related activities or details that are to be performed.
A Marketing Strategy includes your target market and your marketing mix or your actions and activities (tactics) that you/your business controls to promote your services and products to your target market.
Simply stated, you need to have a marketing plan of some type because without one, your marketing efforts to attract customers will not be effective. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. But you do need to be clear on what you or your business does or will do for those who you are going to serve and, of course, who those people are.
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It might be more helpful to visualize it this way: Your strategies are your stepping stones to a destination you’ve defined and your plan serves as your roadmap or guide on your entrepreneurial journey.
Here are brief examples to clear it up a little further for you:
Marketing strategy: To drive more traffic to our website to market our new product that’s launching in late Spring.
Marketing Plan: Increase in conversions via social media by June 30th by purchasing highly targeted ads that lead back to our new product sales page.
In a nutshell, you won’t know what you need to do unless you know what it is you want to achieve. Marketing plans are essential to moving a business forward and making it profitable. Create your strategies using reasonable and achievable goals, and then go about developing the step by step processes (tactics) to get you there.
Goals work best if they are split into bite-sized chunks such as daily, weekly, and monthly tasks you need to work on to get to each level of your marketing strategy.
The only step missing now is the workflow, which may look a little like what is provided below:
1. Written Goals
Quantify and be clear about your goals. If you have trouble getting them down on paper, then you need to spend some more time thinking it through. Spell them out with details; if you need more hits on your website, state how many and by when.
2. What’s Your Why?
You know you want to reach a milestone, but why? Why are you adding more content to your blog, why are you advertising on Facebook, or why are posting more on Instagram? If you know the why, then you will be more efficient at going about it in the right way.
3. Create an Actionable Plan with Milestones
By breaking each goal down into a series of milestones, you will have a clear list of exactly what needs to be done. If you’re giving away a free report you’ll need a writer and editor; if you need to build an email list, then you will need a website, an email marketing service and perhaps a copywriter if you are struggling with content creation.
4. Work Your Plan
Your plan is your map towards achieving your next goal, but the steps need to be followed one after the other to be successful. Work to time limits and deadlines by giving each goal a final date as to when it should be achieved, so you can then know when it’s time to move on to the next.
5. Track and Measure Results
Regularly review the steps of the plan to determine if they are helping you to achieve your milestones or not and adjust them as needed.
6. Experiment to Improve
You’ve probably heard the quote that has been credited to Albert Einstein, “Insanity Is Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again and Expecting Different Results”. The same is true for your marketing strategies. If something isn’t working, don’t keep repeating it and hope for a different result. Throw it out and try a different strategy – one that may be more in line with the best way to reach your ideal client. When you land on something that works, keep it, and then go about experimenting with it to see if you can improve on it.
7. Rinse & Repeat
Re-start the Cycle again! Once you reach your milestone, set new goals and start over again. You’ve gained some experience and have built some resources so your new goals should be aimed towards taking your business to the next level.
Knowing your goals is as important as knowing how you will reach your goals, but you first need to know where you want to be.
Working through the marketing plan will give you insight into your strengths and weaknesses. Weaknesses can be overcome by hiring outside professionals who can provide the skills and expertise you lack.
If you are finding you need some help with your online marketing or specific support, why not schedule a Get Acquainted Call with me?