Linda Foster - Spotlight Blog Series

How to Create & Measure a Marketing Plan

As one of my most admired business leaders would say, “are we winning the game or losing the game?” Being a collegiate athlete and a youth coach/referee myself, this has always resonated with me and forces me to ask myself, “Am I helping to get us to where we need to be?”  The same applies to marketing and life as a whole. If we are giving a half effort and not in alignment, executing our goals, or not effectively communicating, why are we doing what we are doing?

What is Winning in Marketing?

For our B2B manufacturing clients, the universal answer to what winning in marketing looks like is receiving more RFQs. As a strategic marketing partner, our responsibility is to help elevate brand awareness. By showcasing what makes a brand unique, Vive helps to create meaningful connections through a comprehensive marketing plan. While the client completes the selling process, we help to facilitate these opportunities.

To Vive, it is more than just the sale; it is about building notable brands in a very competitive manufacturing space. In addition, we genuinely enjoy playing in this sandbox, forming trusting relationships, and making the industry better than where we found it.

Each company has its own strategic growth goals. Following a complete brand immersion, marketing efforts where all departments work holistically towards delivering the same brand message across multiple channels, most companies will focus on their websites next. When getting started with an SEO strategy, most will use an approach that focuses solely on organic traffic to reach their audience. Meanwhile, more advanced SEO plans include investing in a pay-per-click campaign for a targeted approach to gain website interactions.

Alternatively, in many cases, other clients take a more extensive approach by transforming their brand message, new/refreshed logo, social media, advertising, trade shows, videos, etc. Simply put, every company will always be at a different point in its marketing journey, meaning when creating a marketing plan, each one will be unique to align with its goals and vision.

Starting with a Plan

Since marketing has so many layers to it, there are many angles I could go with on how to win. Let’s start with one of the most critical components to winning – a marketing plan. Having a marketing plan sounds basic, but it will create the structure, timing and vision for where you are as a company today and in the future – short and long-term goal planning.

“Success is 20% skills and 80% strategy. You might know how to succeed, but more importantly, what’s your plan to succeed?” – Jim Rohn.

Ensure that whatever high-performance goals set within your marketing plan factors in the attribution to the bottom-line growth success of the organization – this is what makes marketing invaluable and no longer seen as an expense. In manufacturing, we know that it is challenging to influence leadership to incorporate an annual marketing budget, especially if it is not something the company has relied on in the past.

Several companies have relied strictly on word-of-mouth marketing to grow their business. While this form of marketing remains relevant today, marketing, just like sales, needs to be a priority and requires time and effort for it to be effective. Marketing also requires more than relying on reputation; it takes a strategic plan to highlight what makes your brand better than competitors and why someone should use your brand over another. Inside of a strategic marketing plan includes measurable KPIs to quantify the success of your marketing efforts.

How to Develop Goals in a Marketing Plan

When developing a marketing plan, start by aligning with the leadership team to understand the top-level growth goals and additional action plan-related activities. This information should be the foundation for all your marketing goals.

From there, capture benchmark data points to establish marketing baselines. Depending on what marketing strategies and tactics are aligned, here are some general data points to capture. Also, be sure to compare those numbers to top competitors (if applicable) to see where the organization stacks up:

  • Website: Number of visitors (new/existing), time on site, bounce rate, acquisition, top pages visited, top-ranked keywords, number of contact forms completed, etc.
  • Social Media: Number of followers, number of visitors (LinkedIn), post engagement, the average number of posts per month, impressions, evaluation of followers, etc.
  • Email Marketing: Number of subscribers, open rate and click-through rate (CTR).
  • Videos: Number of videos, video views, duration watched, click-throughs to the website, etc.
  • Advertising: Number of impressions, referral-based site traffic and phone calls.
  • Sales Alignment: Connect with sales to define marketing effectiveness via activities influence by marketing (trade shows, referrals, e-blasts, website inquiries, etc.)

While there are more extensive and complex evaluations, these initial data points provide a starting point for many manufacturers. Having this measurable data helps create buy-in and is meant to validate that the strategic and measured efforts are working while ensuring that marketing influence is helping to develop new business opportunities.

Using Data to Drive Your Plan

After capturing foundational data and at least a few years of historical data, trend evaluation can begin. Finding marketing trends can help to more effectively define stretch goals that may seem a bit out of reach, but with the correct planning and discipline are attainable.

For example, you may be experiencing stagnant website traffic, making that the focus of your marketing efforts. Increasing marketing efforts such as social media or implementing digital marketing efforts through a monthly email campaign to drive traffic to the website, your overall traffic should see an increase.

There’s no magic number, but as companies build their marketing presence and better understand behavior, it becomes easier to define aggressive metrics and evaluate what is working and what is not. The reward of seeing things working, knowing that marketing is contributing to organizational success is fulfilling.

The Power of Marketing

Many assume that marketing is only measured based on numbers. However, there is another measurement – people. Developing effective marketing in a company starts with complete organization buy-in. When people love their company and are on board with its message, it creates strong loyalty. This pride translates to additional word-of-mouth marketing and, in turn, more organizational growth opportunities for new business and top-level employees. Marketing is not just an expense but a powerful tool in the foundation of a dynamic business.

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