A Marketing Plan is like a GPS -- it's purpose is to guide you through unfamiliar areas.
Back in the day, before GPSs – I used to get lost in a strange city – Big Time! My worst experience was driving in circles for hours in Trenton, NJ, looking for a club where some friends were playing. It was night — couldn’t see a thing. I think we finally stopped at a pay phone and called the club to get directions. We couldn’t even tell them where we were! That was a long, long time ago and now living in Phoenix, I use the GPS on my smartphone when heading to an unfamiliar location.
Social Media – the New Unfamiliar Territory
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, blogging, oh my! Where do you start? How to I grow a following? Should I pay to advertise? Do I do just one network or all of them?
Without knowing the answers to these questions, you will be going around in circles, wasting time, money, effort, energy and you’ll not get the results you want. Then you’ll say, “Social media doesn’t work!” It doesn’t work because you failed to plan!
First you have to understand that selling and marketing are two different things. Marketing, advertising and promotions help make the phones ring so the salespeople can sell.
Online content marketing – blogs, social media, videos, and/or podcasts drive leads and traffic to the website where the website can capture the leads. It’s then up to follow-up emails (marketing automation and e-newsletters) and the sales team to convert that lead into a sale.
An e-commerce site works differently. The online marketing efforts should lead the visitor to the product(s) that interests them. If your marketing is not converting visitors into sales quickly, then it's not working.
Unlike a verbal strategy, which can be forgotten or misunderstood, a written document is “living” and can be referred to, modified and executed. ~Social Media Examiner
Start with the Marketing Plan
Get out a piece of paper and answer these questions:
- Who is your target market? Clearly define your target market’s persona. Clearly describe them – age, gender, likes, dislikes, etc. Put yourself in their shoes. Realted: How Different Ggenerations use Social Media
- What your main goals and objectives? Is it to build a following? Do you want to increase traffic to your website? Do you want to get on the first page of Google search? Is it to sell products or services?
- Content Marketing: What are you going to blog about? What would be of interest to my target market? What kind of content written by others are you going to share? How are you going go get people to read your blog?
- What’s your strategy for each of the social media networks? Each network “drives” differently. Each has its own culture and dos and don’ts. What works on Twitter doesn’t work on LinkedIn.
- What’s your call-to-action? How are you going to capture the leads on your website? An e-newsletter? A free download? A coupon?
- How are you going to convert the leads to sales? How often are you going to send a newsletter? What about a drip system? Do you need marketing automation? Is there such a thing as too many leads?
- Then you need the tactical plan. If you have a team helping you, who’s going to do what? What are you going to post when, where and when? How often will you post on each of the network? You can post on Twitter up 10-15 times a day because it goes so fast. On Facebook it would be 10-15 posts a week.
- Last and as important is measuring, monitoring and reporting. Which networks are driving the most traffic to your site? What types of posts are getting the most engagement (likes, shares, comments)? You must check this every month! Then you adjust the strategic and tactical plans accordingly. If you’re getting more traffic from Pinterest than Facebook, then focus more time on Pinterest. You’re not going to ignore Facebook, but you’ll spend more time on the network that’s showing the most engagement. All the major networks offer analytics and insights. These are huge! They provide data about your fans and followers that is invaluable.
You need to learn how to use each of these tools — the networks as well as 3rd party tools like TweetDeck and HootSuite to help you save time and automate a lot of the social media tasks. But you still have to be social! You can automate a lot of the media, but you can’t automate the social.
Get help with your Marketing Plan
Getting an outsider to help brings in an objective viewpoint and helps with brainstorming. Someone who does marketing for a living has a creative “marketing mind” as with someone who’s done it for years in the past, like a SCORE mentor. They can help tremendously.
As business owners, we are too close to our business. Hey, it’s our baby! It’s not easy to look and think objectively when it comes to marketing and promotions.