Turning Business Goals Into Marketing Plans [Your Free Marketing Action Plan Template]
Goal-setting is just the first step in realizing success in business.
Simply setting goals doesn’t automatically lead to results. Instead, many goals become just another item on the never-ending to-do list, and year after year you’re left with the same shortfall on your original goals.
The key to getting results is setting up feasible goals and a detailed action plan that will keep you focused and hold you accountable as you work to achieve those goals. In this post, we’ll show you how to develop a marketing action plan for your business goals, how to outline steps and take action for each marketing goal you have, and offer a free template to organize and track your marketing strategies.
Developing a Marketing Action Plan to Manage Goals
Set attainable goals. First, set realistically attainable goals. That doesn’t mean you can’t strive to be an Olympic swimmer one day, but if you’ve never been in a pool, it’s unlikely that setting a high goal at the outset will yield anything but stress and disappointment. As you set goals, don’t focus on the harder stretch goals, rather, focus on the goals that you know you can achieve and will allow you to make progress towards your stretch goals eventually.
Set inspirational actions. Developing a business plan with goals is just the first step. Specific actions should be the all-encompassing motivator. If you’re hoping to get leads for example, the motivating action may be “increase lead generation by 50%.” This becomes the mantra for your goal and will help you refocus when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
It’s also important to prioritize your actions. Is lead generation more important than lead management, or is content marketing more of a priority this month? Use a color-coding or numbering system (as we’ve done in our free marketing action plan template) to prioritize which should come first.
Develop tangible action steps. Now that you have motivating actions, you need steps. Keeping with the example above, increasing lead generation can encompass action steps like Social Media Marketing, running pay per click ads on Facebook, or writing three blog posts per week. Be focused with actions steps: This is not the time to add a laundry list of items to your plate, but rather to zoom in on the steps that are manageable and will give you the highest return.
"The secret of getting ahead is getting started."
- Mark Twain
Write out the tasks for each action step. This may seem redundant, but breaking your action steps into small, manageable tasks can alleviate the stress that comes with thinking about big steps (plus successfully tackling small tasks can increase positive feelings and your general mood toward your work).
So, if one of your action steps is to increase lead generation through Facebook advertising, define what that means in small steps, whether that’s selecting your best 10 blog posts and choosing to boost them, or developing engaging photographs and images to engage your audience on social.
And don’t forget that you’ll have to write copy, build landing pages, and track how your ads perform. As you can already see, the process is already more in-depth than simply “advertising with Facebook,” so whatever actions you choose, just make sure the corresponding tasks are as specific as possible.
Determine the investment. Each action and its series of action steps require an investment, whether that be time, research, marketing collateral, money, etc. It’s important to write down exactly what it will take to execute this. Putting this is writing really lets you know how much you can feasibly manage in a week, month, or year. Ideally your top priority goals will take up the majority of your time and the lower priority goals will require less output of your energy and resources.
Create frameworks to track progress and hold yourself accountable. How will you ever know if your marketing strategy is working if you’re not tracking your results? Here are some things you should consider:
Establish benchmarks Take note of where you are now so you’ll be able to assess how much you’ve grown.
Develop methods for measuring and tracking Determine how you’ll define a successful completion of a task, and also how you’ll determine if you’ve reached your goal by your deadline (e.g. “I track Facebook leads through a specific landing page, and will compare this data with my original data month-over-month to see if my leads are increasing by 50%”).
Set Start and End Dates You likely won’t (and shouldn’t) tackle everything all at once. Above, we discussed setting priorities, and now it’s time to set dates. Write when you’ll start an action step and the deadline for completion. You can also create deadlines for each of your smaller tasks if that will help keep you on track. Our free Marketing Action Plan Template will guide you through all of these steps.
Mark your progress, successes, and takeaways. Marking tasks off of your action plan can alleviate stress and provide a sense of accomplishment. Once you’ve completed a task, small or large, write down the date completed. This should also jumpstart motivation to tackle the remainder of tasks in your action plan. Then, see if your actions led to your goal being met. Use the “Notes” section in our Marketing Action Plan Template to write down any takeaways from your experience — good or bad — and focus on the tactics that worked and didn’t work to streamline your strategy the next time around.
Add professional development to the mix. While this is an added expense, Professional Development can help you stay accountable to your goals and complete the action steps mentioned above.
TIP: While you can find a host of seminars, classes and tradeshows that will help you advance your business, you can also look for industry-leading blogs to subscribe to. They often offer free webinars.
The important thing is finding a Professional Development resource that aligns with your high priority goals. Take notes and revisit your Marketing Action Plan to see if your action steps are on track, or perhaps you’ve learned you should revamp or reprioritize some of your actions steps.
Turning Business Goals Into Marketing Tactics Now that we’ve established how to create an action plan, it’s time to consider marketing ideas and tactics that will help you achieve your business goals:
Lead Generation Lead generation takes many forms, and the tactics for getting leads will depend on your particular marketing niche. You could simply want a large lead base to cultivate or, in cases where you already have many leads, more targeted and qualified leads to pursue.
Marketing tactics to generate more leads could include:
Building a content marketing strategy that develops you as a thought leader and drives website traffic.
Using pay per click (PPC) advertisements that target a set of popular and moderately competitive key terms that lead to landing pages with strong copy and a call-to-action (CTA).
Developing a strong brand on social media to grow your audience over time.
Increasing lead capture opportunities on your website so visitors are more encouraged to get in touch or be put on your mailing list.
Ensuring your website is optimized for mobile so you’re offering a great experience for smart device users.
If you want to attract more targeted leads, marketing tactics may include:
Create content of value; blog articles, white papers, eBooks or videos that hone in on the problem your ideal lead may have. In your content tell them how to solve that problem.
Define a niche market and find the best ways to interact with those communities.
Target hyper-local keywords for your marketing so you’re getting folks looking for the products and services you offer specifically in your market.
Use the filters on Facebook to target advertisements to demographics that are more likely to convert into leads.
Consider sponsoring local events to develop a stronger community following.
Increasing Close Rate Few things matter more for your bottom line than “did you close the sale?” When assessing ways to make improvements in close rate, you need to take note of lead nurturing.
Show you’re a helpful resource by offering the right resources at the right times that will encourage leads to move through the sales funnel.
RELATED: The Importance of Content Marketing
This is also a great time to analyze your current methodology for attracting and qualifying leads so you can determine if you’re conversing with the right people for your area. This ties back to Buyer Personas discussed above. Develop an engaging newsletter that highlights the valuable content you’ve created for your leads, and your brand’s messaging.
Decreasing Cost Per Lead Reaching financial goals also requires a means to streamline the amount you’re spending, and you certainly don’t want to blow your advertising budget on the first 30 leads who come your way.
To minimize the cost per lead, focus on the areas that need improvement. Attempt to streamline your ad spend by:
Developing long-tail keywords approaches for advertisements so you’re attracting buyers and sellers with specific needs.
RELATED: The Benefits of Long-Tail Keywords
Optimize your website with those same long-tail keyword phrases to increase the level of organic traffic to your website.
Implement website optimization trackers and use Google Analytics to determine what’s not working on your pages and use that data to fuel site changes.
Minimizing Expenses Goals don’t always have to be something new; often a goal can mean scaling back and streamlining. If you want to reduce your expenses to allow more budget for marketing, think about the following:
Assess your technology use and find multi-functional software so you can get more value for your budget and not have tons of technology to handle.
Your website shouldn’t break the bank - nor does it have to. There are modern, inexpensive options available, so determine if your current solution is too pricey for the return you’re getting. If necessary, secure one that has all the functions you need but still leaves budget for other marketing activities.
RELATED: Cost-Effective Website Design
Look at everyday expenses, like wardrobe, transportation, meals, and internet access, then outline a plan for minimizing your spending in each area. Over the course of the year, small steps will yield more money to spend where it matters.
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