VSM Marketing

Andrée DesLauriers

Five steps to a simple but effective marketing plan

We’re getting close to half-way through the calendar year and chances are your marketing activities are not going according to plan. No matter what size business you are, making sure you’ve planned monthly marketing activities that will generate sales.

You may have defined your goals that you want to grow by X percent (maybe 10, 20, 30, 50 or 100 percent). Here are other ways to measure success and growth:

1. Define your annual marketing and sales goals

  • Gross (total) revenue
  • Revenue from new customers / from existing customers
  • Number of new customers/ Number of total customers
  • Goals by distribution channel
  • Goals by customer/client type
  • Goals by product/service line

Next, you need to map out marketing activities on a consistent monthly basis to reach your objectives by December 31st! The beginning of the year is so busy, why not take the time now to map a plan until the end of Q1 next year.  You can always revisit the plan and tweak it later based on results.

So, you want a plan that will generate revenue. To accomplish that, you need to increase the probability that a customer or prospect will buy. If you want to be more effective over time and increase the number of people that will buy more frequently, then marketing is the way to go.

If we look at sales activities, they are basically a one-to-one activity (which makes it hard to scale fast), however marketing is a one-to-many activity (which can be scaled faster and more efficiently). Consider marketing your ally. If you take the time to plan and execute on a consistent basis, you will reach or surpass those objectives you set.

Here are some tips to quickly develop a marketing plan that will give direction to your business over the next 12 months.

I’m assuming that you’ve already done the strategic part of your plan. You should have defined your target market and audience. Also important is your competitive positioning.

2. Define your go-to-market strategy 
Market assessment

  • Market Stage: Introductory, growth, mature, or declining stage
  • Market Trends
  • Total market size and opportunity
  • Consider for multiple products/services
  • And if you sell to multiple markets

Products / Services

  • Customer pain
  • What and how your product/service will solve the customer problem
  • Average order size or volume of order
  • Brand loyalty

Brand positioning

  • Is your brand well known, not well known or new to the market

This will help you determine your high-level positioning strategy, the key factor driving your entire business growth strategy. Next, keep it simple. When a plan is too complicated, very little gets done. You’ll want to have a few pages that you can glance quickly and get the essence of the activities that will run monthly.

3. Get all your big items in the plan first

To make sure you have all those vendor conferences and trade shows you attend, seasonal business activities that are recurrent, put them on the calendar first. Do you have an annual sales meeting? How about your product launches, quarterly promotions?

4. Keep marketing activities that were successful

You might have had success generating product sales with email promotions in the past, or found new prospects through seminars or webcasts, whatever those activities may be, if effective, keep them in your plan. The following marketing strategies can also be very successful:

  • Referrals/recommendations
  • Networking/Events
  • Email/Direct mail
  • Content curation or creation
  • Speaking engagements
  • Advertising
  • Social media
  • Online/web and landing pages
  • PR
  • Sponsorships & Partnerships

These may not all be relevant to your business or your customers, therefore pick the ones that work best and then schedule them in your calendar.

For example, you may run a three-month promotion using a direct mail followed by a seminar, and phone calls to further qualify your prospects. Or you may design a content marketing strategy for the year and drive your prospects on a monthly basis to your assets using email, social media and your website.

5. Follow-up, Follow-up, Follow-up

Your campaigns and programs may be generating all kinds of leads, but if no one follows-up on them, you’re throwing money out the windows. For all those inquiries, leads, business cards from conferences and trade shows you’ve attended, seminar registrations whether they’ve showed up or not, you need to contact them after the tactic has taken place. There are several ways to do it, send them a thank you email, or best, call them.

If you feel they need to be qualified further, don’t give them to your salespeople just yet. Have your inside sales or your telemarketing agency that knows your business to qualify the prospects by getting more information and get the lead sales-ready to hand over to your sales team when the time is right. Nurture your leads to reap the maximum value of your marketing dollars.

There are many details to be added to the plan including the steps to develop the activities, collaborators, deadlines, etc. Most important are the metrics to analyse your ROI and of course, your budget.

How to plan an annual budget for Marketing

Many B2B companies without a marketing department or an executive level marketing leader determine a marketing and sales budget by determining how much the company can comfortably afford.

Another popular method of setting a budget is to base it on a percentage of historical or projected revenue. Companies must set a % as a base (often seen between 5 and 10% of annual sales revenue). The next step is to calculate the budget by multiplying your company’s historical or forecasted revenue by the selected percentage.
The issue with the many approaches companies use to determine their marketing budget is that they do not weigh in the importance of marketing and sales as a revenue generating activity and do not consider marketing as an investment. Revenue is a direct result of marketing and sales activities, therefore if you’re not spending enough on them will negatively impact your company’s revenue generating potential.

The importance of presenting results to Management

Make sure to present the results of your marketing programs on a quarterly basis to senior management to help them understand the value of marketing and show concrete results generating growth. Marketing needs to stop being associated to a Cost Centre but rather considered as a Revenue Generating Centre.

Some metrics may not end up in immediate dollar signs, but you can show increased awareness of your brand by website visits, interest in specific products or services. Share data about recurring revenue from customers generated by marketing tactics and quantify new qualified prospects that have projected sales potential in 6-9-12 months.

I also recommend using a CRM and marketing platform, if you don’t already have one, to help you track all these results more easily. There are many affordable Cloud solutions in the market now that are easy to use and will be an amazing way for your sales and marketing team to be far more agile and successful in their sales and marketing efforts.

I hope these tips will help you make your marketing efforts become more successful!

Andrée Des Lauriers
Sr. Program Manager, Strategist & Architect

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