Is there such a thing as the ultimate marketing plan?
And, if there was, what would it look like?
It’s probably not up for debate that the marketing planning landscape has become more complicated, not least with the evolution of content marketing, marketing technology and understanding how customers now make purchasing decisions.
Today, the buyer has virtually unlimited access to information and choice before parting with money. Statistics show that 78% or more buyers start with a web search while 50% look to social media and peer reviews to inform their buying intentions. And 70% of the buying process is over before the shopper decides to engage with a company’s sales function.
So, according to Linda West, senior director at marketing automation firm, act-on, marketing teams are more responsible than ever for aiding the sales process. In a recent webinar, she gave her take on the marketing life-cycle, summed up in the phases:
THEMES AND CONTENT
Before getting into the life-cycle, West urges marketers to focus on themes and content, in other words:
- What messages do you want to get out to target buyers?
- What are the themes/ideas that will define your product and overlap with customer interests?
And she provided what she believes are the Four tenets of effective campaign themes:
- Must be based on buyer pain points and needs.
- Simple to understand.
- Relevant during all stages of the buyer journey (something about company/product that you want to communicate with buyers).
- Enduring enough to stand the test of time – core to, and consistent with, product and buyers’ needs.
On content, Linda said: “Content is the fuel that runs everything else in the marketing plan.”
Once you have a manageable number of themes, then you start thinking about what content will work during each phase of the life-cycle.
But, within West’s definition of the marketing lifecycle, what is the purpose of each phase?
- ATTRACT: Establish trust and thought leadership.
- CAPTURE/NURTURE/CONVERT: present solutions to pain points plus content to aid in the purchase decision-making process and validate the purchase decision.
- EXPAND: Training, education and adoption of the solution.
And practical examples of relevant content could be:
Creating brand awareness: create and distribute a press release about the product.
Expansion: create an educational video.
The approach recommended by West is captured in “The Modern Buyer’s Journey” graphic:
THE NITTY GRITTY
What West terms “the nitty gritty” is, in essence, the tactical activity that will maximise the potential opportunities and effectiveness of your themed content.
For example, if the opportunity is to increase inbound activity and web traffic, you need to:
- Conduct SEO audits on key pages and identify improvements.
- Increase blogging frequency.
- Increase social posting to generate more website referrals.
MAPPING YOUR TECH STACK
When it comes to marketing technology, West says that “Every time someone interacts with your brand – it means something. Use technology to track, measure and analyse interactions to sell smarter. Create a more personalised experience and a more relevant prospect.”
This is depicted in her marketing automation graphic:
REPORTS THAT “WOW”
At some point, you will need to report the results of your marketing efforts, which means knowing how you are going to report, track and reflect success. West suggests:
- Establish overall funnel metrics.
- Develop specific KPIs to measure progress for your gaps.
- Get buy-in from the whole team.
- Have tech in place to track performance.
And, helpfully, she has produced an example of how you can map your metrics to the customer lifecycle stages.
THE BIG IDEA
The final part of West’s ultimate marketing plan looks at how you distinguish yourself as a leader and an “agent of change”.
She recommends that, when planning, you should aim to pitch new and innovative ideas and – ultimately – champion one big idea. That idea could be:
- A new channel or tactic to open business doors.
- Innovative content – thinking beyond the eBook.
- New ways of reporting or motivating team to achieve KPIs.
- A new technology solution to support your plan.