Continuing from my previous post, we’re discussing the modern marketing plan. In the last article, we talked about industry overview research, deep competitor audits and defining your target audience. Below are steps four through eight of the eight-point plan my team and I use: philosophy on marketing can be summed up in three words: Test. Optimize. Scale.
There is no one channel or tactic that works for every brand. Instead, a series of variant tests should take place on prioritized touch points of your target audience.
So, at this point, brands should list out all channels that are scheduled/considered for test campaigns for both organic and paid media. Here are a few ideas:
Content Marketing (Organic)
The development of content designed for social sharing and high-authority coverage.
SEO: On-site and off-site
Social media platforms
Email: Newsletters, drip campaigns, promotions, e-commerce automation
PR: Direct outreach, relationship seeding, press releases
Events: Trade shows, road shows, promo parties, sponsorships
Strategic partners: Valuable co-promoting, which we'll talk about more below
Incentive programs: Referrals, rewards, contests, etc.
Search (e.g., Google Ads, Yahoo, Bing and international platforms)
Retargeting (e.g., AdRoll, Criteo, Perfect Audience, SteelHouse, etc.)
Programmatic (e.g., AppNexus, RocketFuel, OpenX, The TradeDesk, Choozle, etc.)
Display banners: Native, video, audio and more
Vertical-specific networks, such as:
Influencers: Networks, platforms or influencer direct
Publisher direct: Sponsored content, high-impact placements
Affiliate: Buyer and seller (Note: Beware of your time and resources. This can be highly effective at a substantial level, but it requires an insider.)
Each selected channel should have a well-thought-out approach, which will be planned further in the Creative and Projections sections.
If you are a branding expert, you have likely been on pins and needles reading through to this point, but now is the section you have been waiting for. When it comes to creative, it all starts with the product. A good business model is then crucial for the success of a startup. Remember, most new companies fail in their first 12 months of business.
I recommend several branding exercises to build a "brand bible," which can depict all aspects of a brand that the world will experience. For a marketing campaign, it is imperative that all creative is based off a professional style guide to ensure consistent development of the logo, brand placements, typography and color scheme, including examples of do’s and don’ts.
The primary emphasis of this section is to create approved messaging, images, video and other content in approved formats for each of the organic and paid channels prepared for testing.
6. Strategic Partners
Growth hacking to hockey stick levels is available, for many brands, through the activation of partners. Any time you have the ability to tap into a sizable, engaged and loyal audience, it is a good thing.
Our agency has seen tremendous success from compiling a list of prospective partners from a professional directory (i.e., LinkedIn, Angel.co, vertical-specific databases, etc.) and then using an email platform to personalize or automate sequences or messages to establish a relationship.
When assessing potential partnerships, bear in mind the proven effectiveness of a group, their reputation for being easy to work with and the feasibility of meeting mutual goals. Weekly standing check-ins are recommended during the partnership.
This type of activity not only works for co-branding, but can also be effective for referral partners, B2B sales, influencers, PR, investors, investment funds/groups, high-ticket customer acquisition and more.
Everything thus far is fundamental, yet needs to be brought to life with numbers. The only way to measure anything is numerically, and presenting these to a CEO or department head may be the only way to get a budget approved.
In this focal point of the plan, every channel should be listed in chronological order. We recommend a monthly channel grid, 12-month chart and line graph, but virtually, any increment of time or format can be showcased here. The key is to have metrics attached, such as:
These can be based on average industry click-through and conversion rates. Depending on your initiatives, you could look to include:
The reader needs to walk away with a firm understanding of the timeline, budget and projected results for each channel. For instance, if a brand is starting with a $100,000/month Facebook Advertising spend, your projections might look something like:
10 million impressions (based on $10 average CPM, reflected by average of target audience costs)
100,000 clicks (1% click-through rate)
2,000 conversions (2% conversion rate)
$400,000 value ($300 lifetime customer value)
4x return on ad/marketing spend (we commonly see 3x-24x on Facebook)
I then recommend illustrating month-over-month revenue growth, through the entire timeline of your plan, both by channel and as a grid of a "total" for each metric.
This is my favorite section of the strategy, as it holds the opportunity to map out the appropriate levels of budget pacing to fully utilize a window of time and deliver or surpass a goal, algorithmically.
This finale is intentionally short. It does not use any words that don’t serve a purpose, preferably a minimalistic view on the rollout to be a takeaway from the process. Ideally, you're simplifying all the findings and insights into an action plan the team can easily view, digest and implement.
For clients, I like to present one to three introductory paragraphs, followed by a 1-10 list of "what to do," with a step-by-step guide on optimizations, concluded with one to three paragraphs.
You can organize your list by "currently active tactics," "optimizations to implement," and "tactics to activate" by date. Your list can be an overview of activations from across the strategy document.
The idea is that the plan is put into action by another agency or in-house by the client. Planning is the difference between anxiety and anticipation. It is my hope that this content has provided you value, which can be used for your direct application, education or presentations.