Successful businesses are fast.

If you're not fast, you'll get outmarketed, outsold, and out pivoted at breakneck speed.

One area where speed is essential is in the realm of strategy. In the clumsy bureaucracy of some businesses, it's impossible to make strategic maneuvers without consulting top-heavy execs or arbitrating interdepartmental disputes.

This is a gigantic mistake. The speed at which marketing changes requires marketing departments to be fast, nimble, and eager, at a moment's notice.

Your business craves strategy, needs speed, and wants to make some marketing moves that will change the bottom-line.

Here's exactly how to do it in a single meeting.

1. Review your customer persona - 2 minutes

Note: If you don't have a target persona, then you're not ready to develop a marketing strategy. Start at the beginning and create a snapshot of your ideal customer.

Go over your customer persona by reminding yourself of the following facts:

  • Age
  • Occupation
  • Family status
  • Income level
  • Geographical location (if relevant)
  • Preferred social networks
  • Online habits
  • Preferences or psychographic information that is relevant to your product or service.

It's critical to understand the psychology that drives your customer before you create a plan for reaching them.

2. Determine exactly who your competitors are - 3 minutes

Make a list. It doesn't need to be long. Just write down your worst (or best) three competitors.

Now you know who you're up against, and how to outsmart them.

I do not recommend becoming obsessed with what your competitors are doing. Instead, I recommend acknowledging their presence, then focusing on your own plan and program.

3. Determine four marketing goals for the next year - 10 minutes

"Four" is an arbitrary number. I chose this number, because it's realistic for most small businesses. Do not list too many goals. You want to make specific marketing achievements, rather than burn yourself out on useless marketing experiments.

Make sure that each goal impacts the bottom line. "Engagement" or "brand awareness," or "getting on Pinterest" are meaningless goals unless they ultimately serve to increase the brand's revenue.

The exact goals you choose depend a lot on the industry that you're in and your business's stage. You'll need to decide.

I can't prescribe your goals for you, but I can provide a few pointers on how you can come up with accurate and achievable goals

  • Evaluate where you are currently--number of leads, revenue, customer acquisition rate--and set the bar higher.
  • State specific numbers rather than general ideas. E.g., "55 online leads each week" is specific, whereas, "Increase online traffic" is not.
  • Make sure you can measure whether or not you achieve your goal. Goals are no good unless you know when you've accomplished them.
  • Set a time limit. Identify an endpoint for your goal. In other words, each goal should have a date by which the goal should be achieved.

Your goals are the heart of your marketing plan. Remember, each goal has the specific and ultimate objective of improving revenue.

4. Identify the four key activities required to achieve that objective - 10 minutes

It's tactic time!

Here is where you figure out the exact marketing tasks that you will launch in order to achieve your goals.

For example, if "online leads" are one of your goals, then SEO and content marketing tasks may become part of your key activity list.

Why only four key activities? Again, the number is somewhat arbitrary, but I chose four because you need to keep this number manageable.

One marketing mistake that many businesses make is trying to do too much. Whether through sheer excitement or ignorance, they embrace too many marketing tactics and channels, and end up with unprofessional, unfinished, or ineffective methods.

Instead of trying to do everything halfway, try to do a few things full throttle. Choose to do what you're good at and what will help to drive the business to succeed at those goals.

5. Identify three key ways to measure success (KPIs) - 10 minutes

Marketing is heavy on the numbers, and you'll want to spend time looking at metrics.

Key performance indicators or KPIs help you determine whether or not your marketing is successful. Does it have an ROI?

I recommend selecting a powerful piece of software that will automate much of the analytics for you, and make it easy to understand how and where your marketing efforts are reaping success.

6. Assign each team member a specific task and provide them with full autonomy over that task - 5 minutes

It's go time.

Depending on the size of your team, these tasks may be distributed among five people, fifty people, a network of contractors, or maybe just you.

Whatever the case, it's time to write down specific activities, appoint the people responsible to do them, and let your marketing strategy take off.

7. When things change, you change. - Constant

Your marketing strategy is not static. It changes, and these changes are happening constantly.

Team members leave. Markets change. Algorithms adjust. Goals change. Technology evolves.

Most of the fluctuation in your marketing plan will probably revolve around industry and algorithm factors but you may also find that you need to adjust your goals, tweak your persona, or add a competitor or two.

The important thing to keep in mind is that change is good. Embrace it, and you'll succeed.

Conclusion

If you get stuck at any point in this process, leave the section blank and move on. You can create the beginnings of a plan without identifying every detail.

As you continue fleshing out your marketing plan, other areas will become more apparent, and you'll be able to complete the process.

A marketing plan doesn't need to be a dry and boring tome, housed in three-ring-binders and stowed on bookshelves.

It should be a living, breathing document. It should guide the company's efforts, and fuel the business's success.

What is the process that you use to create a marketing plan?

Published on: Feb 4, 2016