Building a digital marketing plan from scratch can be difficult—especially if you've never done it before.
We're here to help you get started.
When you create a marketing plan, you should follow these 3 steps:
- Diagnose your current marketing problem/situation.
- Create a guiding policy for dealing with the challenge.
- Choose a set of coherent actions and tactics.
Did you notice what you shouldn’t start with? Choosing marketing tactics (email, social media, SEO and so on). Doing this first is like a doctor prescribing medicine before even looking at the patient!
In other words, "tactics first" is malpractice.
Let’s find a better way. Let’s create your company’s marketing plan in a professional manner that will get you results.
Step 1: Diagnose your current problem/situation
Before you can prescribe a marketing solution, you need to diagnose what your marketing problems are.
Diagnosis answers the question, "What’s going on here, exactly?"
Similarly, marketing has its own process to answer this question called the Segmentation,Targeting and Positioning (STP) model.
In other words, solid marketing follows this sequence:
- Segment: Segment customer into meaningful groups (we’ll discuss later what makes a group meaningful.)
- Target: Select which segments (target audience) to serve.
- Position: Appeal to that target audience by owning a particular attribute.
Your positioning then affects how you:
- Distribute your service
- Create services/products.
When you find a problem in this process, stop and address it. Because every step affects the next.
"Troubleshoot" your marketing plan by asking these questions:
- Have you segmented your market in a meaningful way?
- Tip: Demographics and geographic alone are not meaningful. Segment by needs. For example, you can segment by people who are willing to pay a premium vs. cheapskates who aren’t.
- Have you targeted a specific audience?
- Do you know who your competitors are for that target audience?
- Have you chosen a single attribute to position yourself on? Example: You’re the fastest around. Or you have the most 5-star reviews in your area.
- Tip: Positioning should help people answer, "Why should I choose you over a competitor?"
If you DON’T have a proper positioning nailed down, you have no business trying to move further because positioning impacts everything else.
If you DO have a proper positioning for your company, let’s look for your potential marketing problems at the next step of the sequence. Let’s move on to troubleshooting the 4 Ps:
- What marketing tactics are you using?
- How are those tactics performing individually?
- Are those tactics putting out a consistent message across all channels?
- Is your pricing simple?
- Do people understand it?
- Is it in line with your positioning? (“Premium” companies shouldn’t price like they’re aiming for the cheapskate audience).
Product (Service, in your case):
- Are you delivering on the quality of service you’re promoting?
- Is your company easily found online?
- Is your address information consistent on all listing websites? (Google My Business, Yelp, BBB, etc.)
Once you’ve pinpointed the problem, ask:
- "What kind of budget do we have to address this problem?"
- "Do we have the resources to address this problem?"
Let’s say your diagnostic has uncovered that you’ve positioned your company just fine, but you’ve determined that the problems lie in:
- Promotion: The website is ugly and hard to use. The analytics show that your conversion rate is horrendous, and you’re not getting any leads.
- Place. No one can find your business in Google.
Diagnosis summary: You have a Promotion + Place problem.
Solving this problem begins with creating a guiding policy.
Step 2: Create a guiding policy that deals with the challenge
The guiding policy is an overall approach chosen to cope with or overcome the obstacles identified in the diagnosis. It’s "guiding" because it channels your efforts in the right direction without exactly telling you what to do.
A good guiding policy restricts your actions to a smaller set of possible actions. That is, it helps you focus on the critical few, not the insignificant many.
And limiting your options is good for companies with a limited budget (that is, everyone).
Example guiding policy
Let’s go back to our example diagnosis: you have a Promotion + Place problem.
Therefore, your guiding policy should be something like: "Choose promotional channels that can be built/improved within 2 months and also helps the company be found online."
That guiding policy limits your hundreds of options to a smaller set of tactics to choose from.
Which brings us to step 3.
Step 3: Choose a set of coherent actions and tactics
Finally, the part you’ve been waiting for: Where should you spend your time and money?
I can’t tell you. Not unless I diagnose your situation and create a guiding policy.
What I can tell you is that your set of tactics need to be coherent. That is, they should work well together and build off of each other. If you can’t elaborate why a tactic fits within the guiding policy, you probably don’t need it.
Example set of tactics
Using our above guiding policy, I would, perhaps, recommend these tactics:
- Set up dedicated landing pages (landing pages with no navigation) that target relevant keywords.
- Create Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads and send send traffic to those landing pages.
- Set up Google Analytics, Hotjar, NinjaCat and call tracking on those landing pages.
These actions fit within the guiding policy because:
- Creating dedicated landing pages takes relatively little time compared to a website redesign.
- PPC ads and the appropriate budget get you found right away (compared to SEO, which takes time to kick in)
- Google Analytics, Hotjar, NinjaCat and call tracking let you see how your efforts are performing and help you know how to improve.
As you can see, this set of tactics work together to form a coherent digital marketing plan.
Do this next: Be honest
This all might sound difficult and time consuming.
Well, it is.
So be honest with yourself. Is your company equipped to diagnose, plan and execute a marketing plan? If not, call someone who can.
Rocket Media can help. We’ve been doing digital marketing for premium companies in the home services industry for over 13 years.
We have a full-service team that can handle web design, SEO, PPC and content writing. And most importantly, we perform a diagnostic first to determine which marketing tactics you actually need.