The title may be simple, implementation isn’t as easy as it may seem. Because your marketing plan holds so much importance over the direction and success of a company as a whole, attention to detail is a must when you create a marketing strategy.
Now that you have seen the consequences of a misaligned marketing plan, we will explore exactly what needs to be done to set marketing on the right path from the very start.
Another acronym can be used here to ensure that the plan is comprehensive and exhaustive; using SMART.
S.M.A.R.T stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, and Time-bound.
Believe it or not, but this basic acronym can guide you along the path to ensuring that you are implementing the right strategies and defining the right goals for your comprehensive digital marketing campaign. An effective marketing mix must have strategies that are measurable. If the strategy is anything less, it makes it very difficult to justify the time and cost that goes into it. After all, you won’t know whether or not it’s working at any point. Lastly, not having a specific time-table can make it very easy to drag things out and let them continue to drain your resources.
For instance, let’s assume we are tasked with a fairly vague order such as “marketing has to increase total sales for the company.”
We would deliver the following question in return:
Specific: “Are we looking to not only boost sales, but also profitability? Throughout the company, we would be trying to brainstorm ways we might be able to achieve this utilizing our POST framework. For instance, we can say “We will effectively increase sales and overall profitability through directly increasing the total number of visitors we get to our products that make the most profits utilizing a mix of SEO, social media marketing, and content marketing.”
Measurable: From there, we would ask “By how many percentage points?” After all, the objective must be clearly defined. Therefore, we would need to know the mark and it would need to be quantified. You need to know exactly what you are looking to measure and how you will be achieving it prior to committing. For instance, you may be in a position where you need to increase overall web traffic by a whopping 300% throughout the year in order to bring in 5% more sales. That is something that is measurable (albeit very tough to accomplish). By saying something that is not quantifiable like “maximize brand awareness throughout the marketplace” it is not going to work.
Achievable: This is another item in your marketing plan that is important. Ask yourself, “Is this goal practical given our brand’s resources, trajectory, and time?” You need to be looking at everything from sales history to market trends, site traffic, and even your customer feedback to ensure you are setting out a realistic goal. If the business has been able to achieve year over year sales growth around 5% and you are looking to set a goal to increase it to 20% with no influx of resources or no change in direction, you are only going to be setting up your marketing objectives to fail. After all, creating and building up a profitable brand takes not only time, but also money, resources, and ingenuity. While digital marketing can be very effective at helping your business grow, you can’t expect it to do miracles.
Results-focused: This might even be the most important question. “How do we define our progress?” This is where you will want to create smaller objectives and goals that propel you towards the larger end-goal. For instance, if you have a goal to increase year on year sales by 5%, you may look to further breakdown web traffic each month to increase it by a certain number of percentage points. Look at the conversions and the sales you are able to get and you can begin tweaking the marketing efforts to help drive you towards your yearly goal. By making smaller changes, you will be breaking things down to be much more manageable.
Time-bound: The final question. “Is this goal for the calendar year or the fiscal year?” You need to know exactly how much time you have to achieve a specific goal. Some companies stick to calendar years and some have fiscal calendars that they adhere to. Figure out how much time you have to reach the final destination.
The marketing plan framework above is really a simple checklist to help ensure that you are doing everything needed in your digital marketing strategy to set yourself up for success.