You have come so far since your business blossomed from an idea. The first chapter of a startup is the most difficult. Now, it is time to muster up that courage again and begin giving your business movement and personality. It is time to create memorable content that gives your target audience insight into your business’ values and the integrity of your product or service.
Cue the creative and organizational process of content creation. You may have ideas of what you want your content to be and how you plan to keep on brand, but a marketing plan goes beyond aesthetics.
Why is a Marketing Plan Important?
A marketing plan outlines a company’s strategy to acquire new customers, communicate with existing customers, and promote a brand.
Having a central point of reference for the marketing plan is an essential step in marketing 101 to keeping your marketing team on the same page. This is normally accomplished by using a marketing plan template. The strategy template provides guided actionable steps to take on current and projected marketing tactics.
- Create cohesion and consistency. Your marketing team will be able to stay on the same page when it comes to important marketing decisions with the help of a strategic marketing plan. Customers will also benefit from the consistency that marketing plans create, even if they are blind to it. Customers will know what your brand stands for and what they can expect from your business as a whole.
- Help increase sales and gain loyal customers. Digital startups are completely reliant on marketing efforts via paid social ads, email sequences, SMS messaging, and website reach. Having a solidified marketing plan literally helps keep an eCommerce business above water.
- Are the points of reference for future strategies. Having a marketing plan template will help you flesh out the questions that you want to answer as a team. This plan will help you strategize better in the future by literally reminding you of past failed attempts.
Marketing Plan Template
We’ve covered how important a strategic marketing plan is for digital startups, but what should they include? There are so many types of marketing plan templates available, but go with what’s best for your business. Generally, the more specific you make a marketing plan, the better your overall marketing campaign will be. Each business carries its own unique needs and measures of success. Thankfully, your business will be able to create a template that tailors to those quirks and specifications.
Your team may choose to make a general overview of the digital marketing plan in place. It may be that your business is in dire need of a more in-depth plan that specifies the strategy of each platform within your multichannel approach. When you find a template that you like then you will be prompted on what to fill out or override. More on where to find a great template later!
Here are the best aspects to include in your digital marketing plan, with a few added bonuses at the end.
1. Mission Statement
Know your “why” and know it well. It isn’t enough to register as an LLC and then roll with the flow. Taking this approach will likely end in disaster and possibly cause some collateral damage along the way. It pays to know why your business exists, what makes it unique, and what you want to accomplish. This will guide your marketing ideas, generate sales, and provide moral support when things are slow with your digital startup.
“What’s the plan, Stan?” If your name is Stan, then no pressure. This summary should answer in a few sentences your business’s purpose, where you are, and where you want to be. This summary can be fluid and change over time! You’re not locked into this forever, but it’s ideal to train your brain to ask these questions often in your journey as a business owner.
Statement of Business Goals
This is your opportunity to take all of the ideas and business goals you have had for your multichannel marketing campaign and put them into trackable marketing goals. You may want to compartmentalize each goal to its specified channel.
For example, writing that your business “hopes to increase sales by 25% this quarter” is a respectable goal, but how will you accomplish that?
Which marketing channels are going to make this happen? Is this a generalized goal? Will you spread out this goal and gain 5% of sales via Pinterest, Facebook Messenger, website traffic, and other sources?
This is where Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) come in. Your eCommerce site needs to have KPIs assigned to each channel or you won’t know which digital marketing strategies are working and which ones need to be ditched.
Analyze Your Situation (Honestly)
This bit isn’t about casting dreams or setting marketing goals for your business. Your situation analysis is where your startup is now. What is your profit margin like at this moment? You may also analyze your situation by predicting where your business will be in 2 to 5 years. Remember that your business projections and objectives should be made based on where your business presently stands.
Target Customer Base
Who is your business targeting sales to? Is there a specific demographic that your product or service is meant for? Be as specific as possible. Marketing to an age range of 8-100 isn’t going to return great results (unless you’re LEGO, in which case you’re immune to any marketing rules).
You may have to do a little research to find out your competitor’s audiences in order to discover the specifics about your audience’s demographics.
Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Your unique selling proposition (USP)is basically the promise you make to customers through your marketing tactics to stand out from the competition. Maybe you promise to always provide flat rate shipping or that a percentage of sales will go to a non-profit organization. This incentivizes people to shop with your digital startup.
In reality, your USP really doesn’t have to be more than a one or two sentence statement about the benefits you offer customers. Make it as clear and concise as you can.
Create Buyer Personas
This is a fantastic way to get ahead in the marketing competition. Take your target audience as a whole and then segment it into different demographics. Yes, your dessert subscription box business may be targeting 28-35-year-old women, but there are personas you can create within that. An example buyer persona may be:
A single professional living in a major metropolitan city. She values being home after a long day and almost exclusively has things delivered to her apartment–including a meal kit subscription box. She would love sweet treats to share with friends when they come over, but never feels like going to the store. She wants convenience and consistency. She’s not a fan of eCommerce businesses that make purchasing difficult.
Create each buyer persona as if they were real people (because they are!). Then walk through their wins and frustrations.
Distribution and Promotion Plan
Here’s where the content comes in. How will you send out your content and how often? Are customers going to see you across all social media or will you focus primarily on other avenues such as promoting your business through guest appearances on podcasts or blog posts? Create a feasible schedule for sending out emails and posting on social media. Customers do notice posting trends and begin looking for you on those days/times.
Online Marketing Strategy
Your digital marketing strategy will answer a few critical questions:
- How will you generate traffic to your site?
- What keywords will you target?
- What content will you use to engage your audience?
- How will you create an online customer experience?
…and many more.
Using the customer personas you created, start by identifying how your customers are most likely to find you online and create a digital marketing strategy that funnels that traffic to your website. From there, you can strategically analyze how you can convert that traffic into customers.
Now that you have your marketing strategy, it may be a little overwhelming to think about where to go next. It can also be easy to be overwhelmed with the idea that everything needs to be done immediately.
To avoid a marketing strategy execution burnout, start by focusing on one area at a time. If you’ve learned that a large portion of your audience will come from social media marketing, start by allocating your acquisition costs and efforts on one social channel at a time. Otherwise, you risk having a lot of different marketing channels and initiatives going on but seeing lackluster results.
To help, consider putting together a marketing calendar so that you have a plan behind when you decide to roll out each execution months ahead.
You may be wondering where you can find a template for your marketing plan. The simple answer is that it can be found just about anywhere. A simple search will bring you to a large variety of choices. Your digital startup likely has unique needs, but we promise that you will still be able to find the best marketing strategy template for your team. A few that you may want to take a look at include Growthink, Monday, and Aha!.
Be specific in your planning and use your marketing plan as your steering wheel into the next chapter of your business. You can modify as needed and even expand your marketing efforts as your startup grows! The only poor plan is the one you never make.