How to write a great marketing plan
Writing a marketing plan is often overlooked because it seems a simple task. In light of her upcoming training course, Luan Wise tells Molly Raycraft exactly why it requires more than a half-hearted effort.
When it comes to planning, Luan Wise is somewhat of an anomaly - in that she actually enjoys it. “It’s my favourite part of marketing because it gives me time to think,” she says. “You often don’t get to do that on a day-to-day basis when you’re busy checking emails and hitting deadlines.”
Particularly with big projects, marketers are under immense pressure to get things off the ground. The board have all eyes on marketing’s activities and want the end result now. So it’s no surprise that many give a half-hearted attempt on their marketing plan so they can get on with scrambling to the finish line. Taking a tick-box approach, the exercise often results in either a colossal dose of oversights or a large amount of waffle. This is exactly why Luan believes you need to slow down and ensure you have a proper plan before lift off.
“Your plan has got to become your Bible, outlining what you’re going to do and what you’re working for,” she explains. “It is not something you create because you’ve been asked to, or something that’s going to sit in a drawer.”
To ensure your plan takes you down the right path you need cover two bases; firstly, the research aspect and secondly, the practical aspect of outlining your planned activities in a clear way.
A marketing plan involves more than marketing
If you want a vision all departments are committed to, you need to talk to them. “It’s really important that you don’t plan in isolation; you need to involve the key stakeholders,” advises Luan.
This could be vital to your campaign’s success. Marketing’s knowledge of operations or legal implications of a product may be patchy; it’s therefore better to call on experts to ensure nothing is overlooked. “There are very specific regulations for financial services, so you may need to call upon others to give you some information,” Luan examples.
She recommends building relationships with those in other departments who could be useful to you during the planning stages. “The most valuable thing you can do is have a cup of coffee with someone and meet face-to-face,” she says. “It’s about gaining rapport. Just from a coffee you can pick up so many signals and ideas that you may not be able to get via email or a group meeting.”
Communication really is at the heart of this, and it shouldn’t be restricted to the planning stage. Once you’ve begun implementing what you’ve written, be sure you continue to discuss it. “Just as you need to spend time planning, you need to spend time reviewing what’s not working, and what you might need to start doing, or change.”
Opening up communication channels is something Luan teaches in the planning course she delivers through B2B Marketing. The workshop is a confidential session, designed by Luan to help marketers improve their planning and encourage ideas to develop throughout the day.
“Having people in a similar position in the room often makes it easier to come up with ideas for their business and vice versa,” says Luan.
What do you do when you’ve finished researching and finally put pen to paper? Don’t get bogged down in using impressive words to wow your stakeholders. Luan believes it's imperative to keep things simple and clear. Essentially it’s about going back to basics.
“Everything needs to be summarised at the beginning of the plan so it’s really clear and actionable,” she says.
Start your plan by outlining:
- Who will be involved in the campaign.
- What are people’s roles and responsibilities
- Your budget.
From here, you can break the campaign planning into clear subheads to concentrate your focus. There are a number of ways you can structure and organise your plan - which Luan will unveil in her course with B2B Marketing. It may seem simple, the kind of the stuff you covered at marketing school, but it’s the basics that are often overlooked and not done properly. Luan will help others go back to the roots of marketing to ensure fruitful future campaigns.
3 tips for writing marketing plans
Understand what success looks like. Outline the goals and objectives of your business and measure how well your marketing plan addresses these.
Audit the resources you have available. This will enable you to write a plan that’s both practical and achievable.
Nail the background information. Half of your plan should be concentrated on situation analysis. This means researching not just your business, but the wider industry and competitors.