Planning your marketing – make the most of your time and money

Planning your marketing is hyper-important for all businesses and yet I’m constantly surprised at how few people do this.

I regularly get asked by clients to do fairly substantial pieces of work and then only afterwards do they ask how they should promote it.

It’s a bit like putting the cart before the horse!

not planning your marketing is like putting the cart before the horse
Cart – horse – you get the picture

So I would always advocate having some sort of plan, even if it is only on the back of an envelope to help you make the most of your marketing assets.

Planning your marketing – the benefits

There are tons of benefits to having a content marketing plan such as;

Speaking to the right people – one of the key building blocks of a content marketing plan is to set out exactly who you want to reach. There is no point sending out blogs about tyre choice to people who don’t drive a car. Read more about the importance of focus here.

Putting your content into the right channel – it’s fair to say that if you understand your target market then you will also understand where they hang out, so producing a plan will tell you where to place your assets.

Producing the right content – You’ve got your people, you’ve got your channel, now you can work out what marketing assets would work best. For example, TikTok videos work well with millennials, weighty, written reports go well with C-suite execs.

Marketing at the right time – sure you should always be marketing but I’d suggest that bringing out a big report on the state of the UK insurance industry on Christmas Eve isn’t going to get you the results you’re after. Marketing is often about timing.

Timing is everything

You get to test your output – the best marketers actually plan to test things against one another to see what works but you need to make sure that you are doing this in a structured way otherwise the results may not be accurate.

Things go a lot quicker – yup. Spending some time planning your content at the start slows down the project initially, but you find that later on, it goes a lot quicker than just randomly doing stuff.

You can plan in consistency – customers hate inconsistency of message so planning helps you to clarify your message and then build content around it, rather than putting out stuff that is based on the last thing you saw on the TV.

You can get your ducks in a row – If you have a clear plan then you can book writers, translators, editors, digital marketing people all in advance meaning that you know that the people you want to work with will be available.

Not spending money you don’t have to – this is a really important one. If you don’t want to waste your precious marketing cash then you need to get planning your marketing to stop you spending money on things that aren’t going to get you the results you are seeking.

It helps with marketing in the future – if you don’t have a plan then how do you know that your marketing worked/didn’t work and how will you avoid making the same mistakes in the future?

How to plan your content marketing

So here are a few steps that you need to take to build up your plan.

Step 1 – decide what your outcome is, in detail. Don’t just say general stuff like “we want to make more money” but be specific.
“We want to deliver a mailing list with 1000 people by the 1st of April”.

Step 2 – decide who you are going to talk to. Again, be specific and think about producing a customer avatar of your ideal customer.
This will save you from spending money you don’t need, talking to people who will never buy your service, on channels that they don’t use anyway!

Step 3 – set out a budget. This will also help define what you can do. If you are Coca-Cola then you can books some superbowl ads but if you are Joe’s Diner then you will be setting your sights on more cost-effective marketing.

Step 4 – Think about your current position. Are you already a ‘thought leader’? Do you already have a lot of content assets that you can repurpose?
This will feed into your plan and ensure that you don’t spend money duplicating content.

Step 5 -Decide on your channels. You may already have great engagement on say LinkedIn which you can leverage or you may decide that you want to build up a new channel from scratch. Remember that different customers like different channels.

Step 6 – Decide on your content types. As I said earlier, your customer type + channel determines the sort of output you will produce.
Remember though that you may produce one type of content to support or drive people towards another. For example, you may produce a blog that has a Call To Action that points people towards downloading an ebook or signing up for your podcast.

Step 7 – Choose your team. When you know what you are going to produce then you know who you need. If you are going big on YouTube then you probably need a videographer or editor. If you are producing a blog or case study then you probably need a content writer. Ahem….

Step 8 – Put together a content calendar and brief. This shows what you are going to do when you are going to do it and who will produce it. A major part of planning your marketing, you will probably also need a project brief if you are going to use freelancers and you can get a free example here

Step 9 – Produce your content. Or get your freelancers to do it. Don’t underestimate the effort needed to produce a blog a week. If you have a busy business then it is unlikely you will be able to stick to your plan so be realistic and think about outsourcing.

Step 10 – Promote your content – seriously this is one of the biggest steps in your content plan. So many people produce content and then leave it on their website gathering dust.

Step 11 – measure, adjust, repeat. If you are an amazing superhero then your marketing will hit home first time every time. If you are like the rest of us then you will start off with a flop.

Take some time, reflect and then adjust your approach. Sooner or later you will find the marketing mix that is right for you.

Planning your marketing – summary

So there it is.
There’s a load of reasons why you should plan your marketing before you start from understanding who your ideal customer is to saving you money on producing wasted assets.

If you have any specific questions the do post a comment and I’ll try and answer.
All the best!

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If you need help producing a marketing plan or you are looking for someone to do it for you then I am your man.

Just get in touch and let’s talk.

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