Marketing doesn’t get the respect that it’s due. No matter how great the product or service, it will wither on the vine and die if no one knows about it. That’s where marketing comes in. But marketing doesn’t just happen: it takes a concerted effort. You might even say it’s a project, because it is. And any project manager can tell you that without a plan, a project is aimless and destined for failure.
All businesses need a marketing plan to succeed. Yet so many businesses think they don’t have the time or money to invest in one. When funds get tight, it’s usually the marketing department that suffers the cuts. In fact, it’s marketing that can return a business to profitability.
If you’re looking to get the most out of your marketing, then take the time to learn about how to create an effective marketing plan from the perspective of a project manager.
What Is a Marketing Plan?
Like any project plan, a marketing plan is an outline for a strategy for a campaign of a certain length in duration. Like a roadmap that takes your from Point A to Point B, a marketing plan is the path from your product or service to the potential customers who will want it.
Therefore, the first thing to know about a marketing plan, as any project manager will tell you, is to do the research. A plan is not created in a vacuum. It must have context. For one thing, there is likely to have been similar marketing efforts in the past. These can provide valuable historic data to guide your new plan.
A marketing plan also needs to understand the market it is striving to serve. If you’re marketing snow to eskimos, you’re selling the wrong product. Be sure to do extensive market research before planning.
Structure & Approval Process
The marketing plan is also part of a larger business plan. The marketing plan, however, is mostly concerned with advertising and marketing efforts related to the overall strategy of the organization and specifically its marketing objectives.
There is a formal structure to most plans and a marketing plan is no different. It will contain historic data, predictions for the future and strategies to reach the goals set by the plan. As noted, the first step is to identify a customer need to target and then devise how to exploit that for profit.
The marketing department of an organization is responsible for the making of a marketing plan, which will have to be approved by the executive in charge of that department before presented to their superiors.
Marketing Plan Basics
As noted, the marketing plan is a course of actions to bring an organization from where it is today to where it wants to be tomorrow. Therefore, when creating a marketing plan it is crucial to have a thorough understanding of the following aspects.
What is the market you’re targeting? Once you’ve identified it, research it and gather all the data points necessary to provide a sharp picture of that market and its needs. This includes customers in that market, but also any market dynamics, patterns and sales history.
It’s unlikely that you’ll be the only business offering a product or service to a market. Therefore, you’ll have competition. Who are they? How will you differentiate yourself from them in a way that will attract customers? A SWOT analysis can help you understand your position in the market.
Any marketing plan must be built on a strategic plan that coordinates advertising, direct marketing, training, trade shows and any other arm of the campaign.
All plans are anchored to an agreed upon amount of money to fund them. This starts with the marketing executives who decide on what goals the market plan should achieve and how much the estimate the cost to reach them. The project budget must be realistic and within the financing constraints of the larger business.
All plans have a goal, and the goal should be attainable. It’s not a vision statement aiming high, but realistic objectives for the marketing plan. This large goal is the rule by which the marketing success will be ruled.
The four Ps are product, price, place and promotion. Every marketing plan must figure out the proper mix of these to meet the needs of their customers and return a maximum profit for the company.
No plan can gauge its success if it’s not tracking and analyzing its actual versus planned results. Tracking the success of the marketing programs is key, but so is tracking the deliverables that are part of the plan. Tracking the execution of the plan is something that a project manager does all the time, and we’ll get to that in a moment. Tracking the progress the marketing plan is making towards its goal requires key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure and adjust as needed to stay on track.
Making a Marketing Plan
When making a plan it’s helpful to seek the help of the experts. Project managers are responsible for planning big and small projects and their expertise is helpful to guide a marketing plan. The emphasis here is on the plan, which regardless of the industry, shares a common marketing plan template.
In project management, the stakeholders are like the clients or customers. They could also be the executives you are reporting to in your organization. They’re the ones who are the reason for the project. Think of this as the market research part of the plan. You want to identify the stakeholders, so you can tailor a plan to meet their needs and fill a space that is not being served by your competitors.
Assemble Your Team
Any plan must be executed and that’s where the team comes in. They’re a group that have the skills that you required to get the job done.
Create a Communication Plan
Project managers, like marketers, understand the importance of effective communications. The project manager is not only managing their team and making sure the project is on course, they also have to communicate the project’s progress to the stakeholders and directions to the team. How this is done and with what frequency is decided in your communication plan. You can easily make your own with this communication plan template.
Create Task List
Every project is made up of smaller projects, called tasks. If your marketing goal is to increase sales by 10 percent, then you’d put that on the top of a work breakdown structure, which is a tree diagram that starts with the biggest item and works its way down to the smaller ones that build up to it. This is how you define the tasks or actions that your plan must take in order to achieve that goal. These tasks can be collected into project managers call milestones, which are phases of the project. Once done, these tasks are prioritized.
Make a Schedule
Once you have a thorough list of all the tasks and their priority, you can set them up on a project timeline, with start dates and end dates. The schedule is the backbone of any plan and requires a lot of thinking through to make sure you give everything the time it needs to get done while remaining on a timetable that suits the overall goals of the business.
Generate a Risk Management Plan
Projects, no matter how well they’re planned, never go as intended. There are risks inherent in everything we do, but with so much at stake in your marketing plan, you’ll need to think about what could go wrong and then have a plan in place to resolve it if and when it does. Learn more about risk management plans.
Monitoring and Reporting
Each task is tied to a deliverable, whether that’s a typography for a print ad, casting a commercial or printing direct mail. You’ll want to track those deliverables as you move through the marketing plan to make sure they’re staying within budget and on schedule. This is best done with thorough reporting that can track various project metrics to measure your progress. It also helps to have good reporting when presenting to your stakeholders.
ProjectManager.com and Marketing Plans
If a project manager can help marketers make marketing plans work better, then marketers should use the same tools as project managers. ProjectManager.com is that project management tool: it’s an award-winning software that helps marketing teams plan, manage and track their projects with accuracy and ease.
The project plan can be a pain, collecting and scheduling tasks, defining resources and so on. It’s a lot of work and made more complicated by difficult spreadsheets. But with ProjectManager.com the tasks are easy to manage and assign. Add deadlines, and they’re automatically charted across a timeline. You’ve got a schedule that easy.
But a plan isn’t just a schedule. The online Gantt chart in ProjectManager.com gives you more control over tasks that might be tied to other tasks. If you don’t identify those early on, they’ll be trouble later. The Gantt is simple to edit, as even the best laid plans change.
How do you get the plan and your team on the same page? You can start by assigning them to tasks right from the Gantt. Then they can manage their work and collaborate with their teammates, while you track how they’re doing while there’re doing it.
Multiple Views Make Things Easy for Everyone
Marketing plans involve more than one team. There can be creative teams that are building the ad materials and a Gantt chart could make their eyes glaze over. ProjectManager.com has multiple views to suit everyone on the marketing team.
One of those project views is a kanban board. It shows teams what tasks are ready for them to work on and gives you transparency into their workload, which keeps projects on track.
You need to monitor the project and stakeholders want progress reports. ProjectManager.com has you covered. Because ProjectManager.com is cloud-based, all status updates are instantly reflected throughout the software, including the dashboard, which shows up-to-the-minute data in easy to read charts. You can’t find a better tool to plan your next marketing campaign.
ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based project management software with features to help marketer with every step of their marketing plan and execution of marketing campaigns. Plan, monitor and report on your marketing plan with one software that gives your teams the tools they need to collaborate for greater productivity. Make better marketing plans with ProjectManager.com today with this free 30-day trial.