Marketing plan: an essential tool for your communication

 

No matter what products or services you offer, marketing is central to your business in both B2B and B2C. A successful marketing strategy will help you to strengthen your brand image, gain market share and grow your business in the long term. To do this, you need to start by developing an effective marketing plan. What is this document and what does it do? What are the practices to follow when putting your marketing plan in place? How do you choose the right partner to support you in this process? We tell you all about this essential element of your communication strategy.

 

What is a marketing plan and what is it for?

 

The marketing plan is an operational document that describes the means to be used to achieve your marketing objectives. It provides concrete answers to the following questions:

 

  • Which customers to target? Through which communication channels?
  • How to stand out from the competition? 
  • What actions should be taken? Within what timeframe?
  • How to monitor and analyse the impact of marketing campaigns?

 

Be careful not to confuse strategy with marketing plan! The marketing strategy sets a general direction for the long term: this is the theory. The marketing plan is the implementation of this overall strategy over a given period. It lists the different marketing activities to be carried out and their chronology. 

 

Depending on your needs, you can draw up a monthly, quarterly or annual marketing plan. If you are starting a business, it can be integrated into the business plan. Thanks to this detailed roadmap, you and your marketing teams have a clear vision of the tasks to be accomplished and their deadlines. You have the necessary framework to work efficiently and calmly.

 

How to make an effective marketing plan in 8 steps? 

1 - Build a clear marketing strategy

 

As the marketing plan is based on the marketing strategy, it is necessary to define the strategy before setting up the plan. To establish your marketing strategy, you need to identify the following elements

 

  • resources at your disposal: financial means (marketing budget) and human means (staff and skills of your teams);
  • marketing objectives: for example, to increase traffic to your website, to generate leads... ;
  • target market (personas): socio-demographic characteristics, geographical area, sector of activity and interests of your potential customers;
  • Distribution channels: website, blog, e-mails, social networks, online advertising (relevance to be assessed according to your personas);
  • deadlines.

 

To be more effective, it is strongly recommended to set SMART objectives: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. For example, the objective "to increase our awareness" is too imprecise. A SMART objective would be: "to increase the number of subscribers to our newsletter by 40% within 6 months".

 

2 - Define performance indicators

 

Once you have established your marketing strategy, you need to identify the KPIs (key performance indicators) that will allow you to monitor and evaluate your marketing actions. Here are some examples of KPIs:

 

  • number of leads generated ;
  • e-mail deliverability and open rate ;
  • website traffic ;
  • conversion rate of visitors to customers ;
  • number of pages viewed per visit ;
  • click-through rate of an advertising campaign ;
  • and so on

 

Here we see the importance of defining quantifiable objectives: the choice of indicator will be simplified. If we take the previous example, the key indicators will logically be the number of subscribers to the newsletter and the percentage increase compared to the current situation. By comparing these KPIs with the target, you can easily measure the effectiveness of your marketing plan and make any necessary adjustments.

 

3 - Study the competition

 

Looking at the marketing strategies of other companies in your industry is a great source of inspiration. This is the best way to spot their weaknesses and avoid repeating the same mistakes. On the other hand, if your idea has already been used successfully, it is better to think outside the box to differentiate yourself from your competitors.

 

By combining the information gathered with market research and an internal analysis of your own company, you can develop your SWOT matrix (strengths - weaknesses - opportunities - threats). This will help you to identify your competitive advantages and define your marketing position.

 

4 - Choose the marketing actions to be included in the plan

 

To achieve the objectives set in step 1, you can use several marketing levers:

 

  • content creation (blog posts, videos...) ;
  • animation of the website and social networks;
  • lead generation ;
  • product and customer marketing ;
  • e-mail campaign ;
  • natural search engine optimization (SEO ) ;
  • paid advertising (Google, Facebook, LinkedIn...) ;
  • events ;
  • public relations ;
  • and so on

 

The choice of these different elements must be in line with the objectives of your marketing plan. Take a holistic approach to combine your efforts with each other. For example, you can post a corporate video on your social media or share the link to a blog post in an email. Of course, you need to make sure that each piece of content is aligned with your brand strategy. All of this will help you provide your customers with a consistent and integrated marketing experience.

 

5 - Be creative

 

An effective marketing plan is based on a strong creative strategy that conveys a clear brand image. In 2021, more than half of marketers consider visual content "very important" to their business (source: Venngage survey). This makes graphic design a central part of your communication strategy. Adapt to your target audience and the type of screens they use (computer, smartphone or tablet) when designing your visual elements:

 

 

Don't forget to include powerful calls to action (CTAs ) to encourage engagement: newsletter or webinar sign-ups, comments and shares on social networks, quote requests, etc.

 

6 - Implementing your marketing plan

 

After strategic marketing, it's time for operational marketing, i.e. the concrete application of your marketing plan. For greater efficiency, opt for a work management tool that will allow you to formalise your projects, specify their deadlines, monitor their progress and promote communication between collaborators. This will give you an overview of your marketing plan and the tasks to be carried out to achieve it.

 

7 - Adopt the right tools and working methods

 

The implementation of your marketing plan requires the choice oftechnological tools adapted to your needs. At Autour de l'Image, we use for example :

 

  • Asana for project management ;
  • Slack and Zoom to communicate between team members (instant chats and video conferences);
  • Agorapulse for social network management (planning, publishing and performance measurement);
  • Semrush for competitive research and SEO;
  • Sendinblue to create and automate the sending of emails and newsletters (marketing automation);
  • Pipedrive for lead management and customer relationship management (CRM).

 

These tools must be associated with an efficient organisation, just like the one we deploy within the agency: collaborative work and project mode, transparency and task planning.

 

8 - Evaluate your performance

 

It is important to regularly monitor the key indicators defined in step 2 in order to measure the impact of your marketing efforts. You can analyse the performance of your website with the Google Analytics tool, which provides numerous indicators:

 

  • Audience KPIs: number of visitors, number and average duration of sessions, demographic data, bounce rate, type of device used to connect, etc;
  • Acquisition KPIs: acquisition channels, conversion tracking, cost per acquisition (CPA) and cost per click (CPC), etc.

 

Compare this data to your original objectives to identify what works, identify areas for improvement and adjust your marketing plan based on the results. For example, if your online advertising is performing better than expected, you can increase the campaign budget. This analysis will also be useful in developing your future marketing plans.

 

Get support for a successful marketing plan

 

You don't have the time or the skills in-house to implement your marketing plan? Choose a trusted partner to support you! Autour de l'Image is a 360° communication agency that can help you with all your marketing issues. Our assets :

 

  • an experienced and creative multidisciplinary team;
  • marketing intelligence to build an effective marketing plan consistent with your business strategy;
  • the ability to identify relevant marketing actions according to the defined plan and to implement them;
  • the right marketing tools to implement your plan and measure its performance: Asana, Slack, Agorapulse, Semrush, Sendinblue, Pipedrive, etc.

 

A real "marketing concierge" at the service of your company and the development of your business!

 

Would you like us to develop and implement your marketing plan? Contact us to discuss your project!

 

About the author

Caroline Madec

Caroline has a master's degree in Brand Communication from Audencia SciencesCom and a master's degree in Digital Communication from ISCOM. This double degree led her to work for large groups such as ACCOR and Engie, in digital project management, and then to evolve towards SMEs, in France and more recently in Australia where she held a position as Marketing Manager at Bilue, a company specializing in mobile application development. Her knowledge of digital and her versatility allow her to adapt to your needs and to accompany you in the development of your projects.

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