What Advice Would You Give for Creating a First Comprehensive Marketing Plan?

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    B2C Brief

    What Advice Would You Give for Creating a First Comprehensive Marketing Plan?

    Stepping into the world of marketing can be daunting, so we've gathered the wisdom of CEOs and Marketing Managers to guide you through crafting your first comprehensive marketing plan. From adopting a customer-first approach to incorporating goal-oriented initiatives, explore the diverse strategies and insights offered in these nineteen answers.

    • Adopt a Customer-First Approach
    • Understand Target Audience Deeply
    • Execute and Adapt Quickly
    • Align Objectives with Business Goals
    • Focus on Business Objectives
    • Define Your Target Market
    • Create Relevant User Personas
    • Offer Creative, Engaging Content
    • Incorporate Brand Storytelling
    • Rely on Testing and User Research
    • Set Specific, Measurable Goals
    • Maintain Flexibility in Planning
    • Understand Your Target Audience
    • View Marketing from Customer's Perspective
    • Focus on Purchase Decision Moments
    • Speak with Potential Customers
    • Adopt an Integrated Channel Approach
    • Define Plan's Scope and Omissions
    • Incorporate Goal-Oriented Initiatives

    Adopt a Customer-First Approach

    Start with a customer-first approach. Take a step back and really get to know your target audience. Segment them, and understand their needs, preferences, and behaviors. Once you've got a solid grasp on who your audience is, everything else, from your brand messaging to your marketing channels, starts to fall into place much more naturally. It makes the whole process of building out your marketing plan feel less like guesswork and more like you're crafting a tailored conversation with your audience.

    Diane Howard
    Diane HowardRN and Founder, Esthetic Finesse

    Understand Target Audience Deeply

    One crucial piece of advice I'd give to someone creating their first comprehensive marketing plan is to obsess over deeply understanding their target audience's needs, pain points, and behaviors. Too often, businesses make assumptions about their customers instead of taking the time for meticulous audience research upfront.

    Before outlining strategies, channels, or creative concepts—the very first step should be conducting surveys, interviews, focus groups, and data analysis to build laser-focused buyer personas. What are their demographics, psychographics, goals, and challenges? How do they consume information and make decisions in your industry? Invaluable nuances emerge through this diligent discovery work.

    With clearly defined audiences and their core needs mapped, the entire marketing plan can be reverse-engineered to provide thoughtful solutions that genuinely resonate. Content topics, messaging pillars, channel mixes, and more should all flow from putting the customer at the center from day one.

    This audience-first approach may require more initial time investment. However, it prevents wasted effort on tactics that miss the mark. It breeds credibility by showing you prioritize delivering true value to your buyers over surface-level promotion tactics. When customers feel profoundly understood, deeper connections and conversions follow.

    Brian Meiggs
    Brian MeiggsFounder, My Millennial Guide

    Execute and Adapt Quickly

    When creating your first comprehensive marketing plan, focus on three essential questions: Who is your target audience? How will you reach them? What message will convince them to buy your product? These questions are the backbone of any effective marketing strategy. The key isn't just to make a plan that sounds impressive; it's more important to start executing and adapt based on market feedback. In today's complex environment, no one can predict exactly what will work, regardless of their expertise. So, plan quickly, launch quickly, and be ready to adjust quickly.

    Rafael Sarim Özdemir
    Rafael Sarim ÖzdemirFounder & CEO, coachingausbildung.net

    Align Objectives with Business Goals

    My key piece of advice would be to focus on defining clear, measurable objectives that align with your overall business goals. This approach ensures that every element of your marketing strategy directly contributes to the broader vision of your company.

    For instance, when we were crafting the initial marketing plan at Spectup, we spent considerable time identifying our primary business objectives, which included increasing brand awareness and boosting client acquisition by 25% within the first year. With these targets in mind, we were able to structure our marketing activities to drive these outcomes, utilizing a mix of digital advertising, content marketing, and strategic partnerships.

    This objective-centered approach allowed us to not only tailor our efforts to specific goals but also to measure our progress effectively and make informed adjustments along the way. It's crucial to remember that a successful marketing plan is not just a set of activities but a strategic tool that propels your business forward. Start with what you want to achieve, and let this guide the tactics you choose, ensuring they are coherent, well-coordinated, and meticulously executed.

    Niclas Schlopsna
    Niclas SchlopsnaManaging Consultant and CEO, spectup

    Focus on Business Objectives

    The base of your marketing plan structure is your business objective. Decide on what your business wants to accomplish. Be sure that it follows the S.M.A.R.T. guidelines; that way, you can fulfill the why, what, where, who, etc.

    After you and your team are satisfied with the objective, begin making the plan in a way that always keeps focus on that objective. Following the Lean Startup Method, you'll find that every task on your plan must add value to your customer; the objectives should do that also: satisfy your customers' needs.

    This brings us to this: your marketing plan should be a way to add value to your customers, not a roadmap to improve financial gains.

    Jean Devenish
    Jean DevenishInternational SEO Consultant, Unmaze It

    Define Your Target Market

    Know your market and target just that. With new entrepreneurs, the trap is that they often want to sell to everyone and are afraid of missing out on opportunities. What's important to understand is that defining a target market also defines the product. Focusing on the odd man out, who might also be interested in the product, scatters the focus and redirects it to include outliers that don't make up the bulk of sales. Know your market, know who you're selling to, establish the brand, and only after that, maybe look at branching out.

    Joe Flanagan
    Joe FlanaganMarketing Manager, Ukulele Tabs

    Create Relevant User Personas

    Spend as much time and research as possible in creating relevant user personas and identifying the right KPIs to measure. The former will dictate nearly all aspects of your planning, including the message, assets, and approach, whereas the latter will ensure that you can measure how effective your strategies have been. Formulating the many elements of a marketing plan can be overwhelming, so proceed systematically, knowing which steps require more attention and detailing, like the ones mentioned.

    Elyas Coutts
    Elyas CouttsCEO, Connect Vending

    Offer Creative, Engaging Content

    Of course, when creating your first marketing plan, the general advice would be to have clear goals and learn who your target audience is. You need to know where they are, their needs, and what would motivate them to make a purchase. My specific advice, however, would be to use that information and offer creative content with them in mind. Your customers don't want to see the same thing in you as in your competition; they are looking for something different. For instance, while others focused all of their efforts on blog posts, I added regular interactive live streams to the mix as well. This kept the audience engaged because they could actually interact with us in real time.

    Jason Vaught
    Jason VaughtPresident, Equipping Entrepreneurs

    Incorporate Brand Storytelling

    A powerful but simple way to create a marketing plan is to incorporate storytelling. Even when drafting the most data-driven, comprehensive strategy, remember that the core of marketing is connection. Stories evoke emotional responses and create connections that facts alone cannot achieve. Begin by identifying the narrative behind your brand or product. Who are you? What challenges do you solve, and how? More importantly, how does your story intersect with that of your intended audience? By weaving this narrative throughout your marketing plan—from email campaigns to social media and blog content—you create a cohesive, engaging experience that resonates with your audience on a personal level. Remember, people may forget what you said or did, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Make your brand's story compelling, authentic, and consistent across all platforms to truly stand out.

    Blair Williams
    Blair WilliamsCEO, MemberPress

    Rely on Testing and User Research

    My advice would be to rely on testing and user research to inform every step of the marketing plan. Even the best marketers with decades of experience can get a marketing plan wrong. So, make sure you use a simple survey tool or run polls to test everything from naming your product or business to carrying out post-launch feedback. Running tests intermittently will help you include customer feedback in the process and validate your ideas. Use a simple form tool and ask your customers, or invest in a simple survey-gathering tool to collect user feedback. This will help you create the best possible marketing plan you can.

    Syed Balkhi
    Syed BalkhiCo-Founder, WPBeginner

    Set Specific, Measurable Goals

    When establishing your first marketing plan, setting actionable goals is something you must do. Let's face it: It's hard to come up with a plan if you don't know what you want to achieve. So, take some time and figure out what accomplishment you want to come from your strategy. Your goals could include increasing traffic, boosting sales, growing your mailing list, or any number of other things. The most important thing is that your goals are specific and measurable. For example, instead of just saying you want to boost website traffic, say you want to increase traffic by 25% over the next four months. You can then come up with a plan that will help you reach this number. I've found that setting goals makes it easier to track your progress and figure out what's working and where you can improve.

    John Turner
    John TurnerFounder, SeedProd

    Maintain Flexibility in Planning

    One piece of advice I would give anyone creating business plans, marketing or otherwise, is to be flexible. A marketing plan is great and provides a roadmap, but it shouldn't be set in stone. Be prepared to evolve the plan, to expand, change direction, and respond to feedback. Keep to the plan as much as possible so everyone knows what's going on, but make sure everyone knows it's a road with space to move, not rails with only one direction of travel. Plans change, audiences evolve, and things don't always go according to plan, especially in business. That's why flexibility and a willingness to adapt and overcome is so important.

    Pratik Chaskar
    Pratik ChaskarCo-Founder & CTO, Spectra

    Understand Your Target Audience

    One key piece of advice for crafting your first comprehensive marketing plan is to start with a clear understanding of your target audience. Define who they are, what they need, and how your product or service fits into their lives. This foundational insight guides every aspect of your strategy, from channel selection to messaging. Focus on building a flexible plan that allows for testing and adaptation, because what works today may not work tomorrow. Include measurable goals and KPIs to track progress and make data-driven decisions. Remember, a good marketing plan is not just a set of actions—it's a roadmap for engaging customers and growing your business effectively.

    Blake Olson
    Blake OlsonOwner & CEO, Smart Prop Trader

    View Marketing from Customer's Perspective

    One key piece of advice I would give to someone creating their first marketing plan is to learn to put yourself in your customers' shoes. View your product, your USP, your value proposition, and overall brand from a user's perspective and approach all marketing from there. If you can't do it yourself, find someone you trust who would be a typical customer and use their input to build your plan. It's easy to view your business from the inside and think you know what customers want. You may be right, but until you look at the world using their eyes, you'll never know for sure. This works for marketing, product development, improvements, and every aspect of business. See the world from that perspective, and you should be able to identify who to market to, how to market, and where to market. That focused approach, along with giving the customer what they want rather than what you want them to have, is what will generate results!

    Abhijeet Kaldate
    Abhijeet KaldateCo-founder, Astra

    Focus on Purchase Decision Moments

    One crucial piece of advice for creating your first comprehensive marketing plan is to focus on the moments closest to the purchasing decision in the customer's journey. Identify key events or interactions that occur just before a purchase is made. Instead of relying heavily on complex social-media campaigns, consider direct-engagement methods like phone calls to effectively influence the sale.

    Dalip Jaggi
    Dalip JaggiCo-founder & CTO, Revive

    Speak with Potential Customers

    Speaking with potential customers before writing your marketing plans is critical to proving product-market fit. It's one thing to understand your demographic, but it's an entirely more important thing to actually speak with them to see if your product is right for them. Ask them in-depth questions about the problem your product looks to solve, and better yet, ask them to purchase on the spot. In my experience, selling a service that costs over $1,000, everyone says they want it, but it can become a different story when you ask them to take out their credit card and commit. Remember: No marketing plan can make up for poor product-market fit.

    Matt Wilson
    Matt WilsonCEO, Under30Experiences

    Adopt an Integrated Channel Approach

    For those embarking on their first comprehensive marketing plan, an essential piece of advice is to adopt an integrated approach to your marketing channels. Don't rely on just one type of media or platform; instead, create a multi-channel strategy that allows you to reach your audience wherever they are. This might include a mix of digital marketing, social media, email campaigns, and traditional advertising like print and broadcast. Each channel should have a clear role and work in harmony to reinforce your overall messaging. It's important to understand how different channels interact and support each other to create a seamless customer experience. For instance, your social media campaigns can drive traffic to your website, while email marketing can deepen relationships with those leads. Analyze the performance of each channel not just on its own merits but also on how it contributes to the success of other channels. This integrated approach ensures that your marketing efforts are more cohesive, consistent, and effective, maximizing your reach and impact across different customer touchpoints.

    Jason Hennessey
    Jason HennesseyCEO, Hennessey Digital

    Define Plan's Scope and Omissions

    All marketing plans need a mission and objectives, but to make it truly comprehensive, in my experience, you also have to clearly define what your plan won't cover. Trust me, every marketing plan is meant to outline your marketing team’s main areas of focus, but it also needs to clarify what the team will not be focusing on. State the omissions.

    For instance, if there are any aspects of your business that the plan does not address, you should include these exclusions. Including what you are omitting in your plan can help justify your mission, buyer personas, KPIs, and content strategy.

    Every marketing campaign is designed with a specific purpose in mind and thus cannot cater to everyone. If you prefer, you can create a separate section to list these omissions. Alternatively, you might choose to add notes at the bottom of each section to clarify these points for the reader, ensuring everything is understood. A good plan is both clear and concise, so make sure to include everything in your marketing plan outline to prevent any oversight.

    Oliver Cordingley
    Oliver CordingleyFounder, OurGen

    Incorporate Goal-Oriented Initiatives

    A comprehensive marketing plan, in my experience, needs to incorporate goal-oriented initiatives. Within any marketing plan, there can be various initiatives. These are crucial focal points that utilize your company's strengths and opportunities to effectively sway the most profitable customer actions.

    Every initiative should aim to achieve one or more strategic business objectives and marketing goals. For instance, if your aim is to boost brand awareness, your initiatives might involve launching a social-media campaign and conducting manual sales outreach. Ideally, these initiatives should coordinate and support one another to ensure a consistent customer experience.

    Amir Elaguizy
    Amir ElaguizyCEO, Cratejoy, Inc