Marketing Planning Process
Building a marketing plan is necessary for a business to reach their goals. The marketing planning process includes four main phases: goal setting, situational review, strategy, and execution. By creating a marketing plan, it allows management to effectively make operational decisions. You don’t want to overkill with detail, but you need enough to outline the heart of the revenue-generating activities of the company and define where the company is now, where you want to go, and how you will get there.
Phase I: Business Goal Setting
Goal setting is the first step in the planning process. We review the brand mission and overall business objectives. For some businesses, one of the most difficult tasks is defining their mission. It’s more philosophical—not as easy to define. Having a clearly define mission helps larger businesses define the boundaries for each department. (It all ties back to the mission.)
Phase II: Marketing Audit
The situational review is commonly referred to as a marketing audit. The audit should include a review of both the internal and external factors that have affected the performance of the company over a certain period of time. Some factors are not controllable, but they should be recognized. Life cycles of the major products/services should be reviewed. The competitive position of each of the key products and service should also be defined in the marketing audit.
A market overview is also part of this phase. Define the market, explain the key decisions that need to be made in the market and develop the personas of the target audience. Based on those personas, determine the market size. An easy format for this market overview is to use the SWOT analysis. And do the SWOT for each of the key product/services. The SWOT analysis covers strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Phase III: Marketing Strategy
It’s in this phase where you use the knowledge learned to this point to outline the objectives and strategy. This is the most important part of the marketing planning process. The objectives need to be measurable (or they are not considered objectives). Measurements can include KPIs such as sales, market share, leads, and cost-to-acquire a customer. You can incorporate any necessary reach as well. . Map out the expected results, define what can be tested, and create possible alternative plans.
Phase IV: Budget, Execution & Measuring Results
The is probably the most common visual aid for a marketing plan. It includes the campaign calendar, channels and spend. When determining the budget, some businesses have a tough time deciding what should be included in the actual marketing budget. For example, is packaging included in the marketing budget? Are distribution costs included? Are discounts from promotions a part of the marketing budget?
Once you have the objectives and goals defined, the next step is to set up the tracking that will make these KPIs accountable. You need a consistent report to house the data that will be included in this report. We recommend hiring an expert (external) to create this report to be sure it’s built accurately and the data streams in without bias. Power BI and Google Data Studio are two common tools to build a reporting dashboard. (OpGo has a report of some sort mapped out in advance for every single client. For businesses that just have SEO, we use separate software.) The insights from a consistent marketing report are invaluable as they pave the road for optimization and allow companies to pivot their marketing mix when needed. (Before budget is depleted.)