Yes, this is the only marketing plan you’ll ever need — and if it seems simple, that’s because it is.
But even though it’s simple, it’s not easy. In fact, this plan is a real challenge. And remember, this just the bones; you have to add the meat. If you’re able to do so, I recommend getting professional help.
- Research and Assess. I’ve seen organizations waste thousands of marketing dollars because they assume they already know how their prospects and customers see them, their products and services and how they’re compared to their competitors. Creating messages and offers based on these assumptions is a recipe for disaster. Take the time, spend the budget and be sure where you’re positioned in people’s minds now — before you try to go somewhere else.
- Identify the Mission. Make your organization’s mission crystal clear for your leadership team, staff, stakeholders, customers and prospects. The mission has to connect to core values, needs and desires. It needs to strike a chord and create interest.
- Create a Unique Brand. Position your product as something better, different or special. This sounds a lot easier than it is. Just shouting like a retailer with a close-out sale does not make your offering unique. You create the unique brand by creatively building off the mission.
- Develop Messages That Stand Out. We’re bombarded with marketing messages of every type in every medium, both traditional and social. So your message has to stand out if you want it seen or engaged with. Again, screaming is not the way to stand out — that just annoys people. The message also has to connect with prospects in a way that will have them, at least subconsciously, nodding their heads yes.
- Repeat the Messages. This helps you build momentum. Trust me — you’ll get tired of your message before the market tires of it. A great message that stands out and connects shouldn’t be dumped and changed simply because it has been seen for a while. You can tweak, take a new approach or adapt it — but keep the key message the same and repeat it. The more prospects who see, hear and engage with it, the more successful your marketing will be. However, depending on what stage of the buying process they’re in at the time, some people need to be exposed to it many times before they respond.
- Demonstrate Results. A large part of marketing messages is often dedicated to making claims and promises. Where many organizations drop the ball is not demonstrating the results of those claims and promises. You don’t necessarily have to do it in advertising, although we know the power of testimonials. You can also provide a way for customers to give honest feedback and ratings that prospects can view. And if you have a non-profit or public organization, you can outline the results of the programs you promised.
- Cultivate Supporters and Advocates. If you demonstrate good results, you’ll attract believers and supporters who are willing to spread the word, promote you to their friends, help out and even invest. Identifying your supporters and advocates and cultivating their involvement is critical to long-term success.
- Use Your Strength to Build Sustainability. At this point, you should be able to recognize what you’ve done that has generated the most positive response and solid return on your investment. Identify these strengths and continually use and refine them to build something that will last.
Now, repeat these steps. Each time you go through the process, you’ll get better. And you’ll see why this is the only marketing plan you’ll ever need.