Developing a marketing plan takes time. It is a step-by-step process that includes identifying and researching your target audience, understanding your competitive position, branding, messaging, separating your business from the competition, mapping out your marketing mix and more.
Establishing a marketing plan is one of the most important things you can do to ensure the success and sustainability of your business.
In order to create a successful marketing plan, you will first need to define your marketing strategies – short-term and long-term. Why have two strategies? You certainly need to plan for the future success of your business, but without a short-term strategy, your business may not be around long enough for those long-term strategies to come to fruition. On the other hand, simply focusing on your short-term successes will put your business in a bad position for future growth. The two strategies need to be part of the bigger marketing picture.
Once your strategies have been defined, you will need to develop your marketing plan filled with a diverse mix of activities to help you accomplish your goals. Below are some top performing marketing activities to help drive success across both your short- and long-term marketing strategies.
Short-Term Marketing Activities
Short-term marketing activities are those that produce a temporary boost in business and traffic. Short-term success is crucial for any business. Whether you are a startup looking for funding, or a company looking to successfully launch a new product or service, short-term success is necessary for long-term growth.
Here are a few tactics to achieve short-term marketing success:
Reduced pricing promotions: Limited time price reductions encourage customers to act. You likely have individuals within your sales funnel who intend to buy but haven’t yet pulled the trigger. Lowering the price will give them an incentive to purchase.
Group offers: This is an effective strategy for gaining exposure, especially with a new set of customers. Offers could also be tailored to provide a permanent discount to important groups. For example, you can target members of an organization that fall within your target market. If your goal is to grow your client-base within human resources you can provide Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) chapters a special offer tailored to them. However, be sure to monitor the performance of group offers. The revenue may not offset the cost of the ongoing price discount.
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising: Pay-per-click campaigns are another way to become visible to new customers. Effective implementation of PPC campaigns are known to drive significant targeted traffic to your website. Be sure to run the numbers and make sure that you understand the break-even point so that you do not bid more per click than you expect to profit.
Tradeshows: Tradeshows offer an excellent short-term way of promoting or introducing your products and services within a specific market. Additional opportunities in the form of sponsorships, speaking opportunities and VIP parties are often great opportunities to take advantage of the captive event audience.
Long-Term Marketing Activities
Long-term activities establish brand awareness and continue to produce results even years down the road. Without long-term marketing strategies, short-term success may be short-lived. Where will your business be in five years? How about in 10 or even 30 years? What initiatives are you going to put in place to reach your goals further down the road? Growing your business takes time and you need to have a plan for every step or milestone along the way.
Here are a few tactics to achieve long-term marketing success:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO is a long-term play that can take several months, but it is crucial for success because organic search engine traffic has been found to be the best source of B2B leads. Knowing your audience and optimizing your website for keywords and phrases that potential customers would use in their online search is critical to being found on the Internet. SEO is an ongoing process and to do it effectively takes time. Businesses should consider engaging experts they can trust to keep their website optimized.
Public relations (PR): PR efforts, in general, are proactive actions that positively build a company’s brand online and offline over the long term. PR teams often accomplish goals by strategically sharing information with relevant media outlets. A well-executed PR strategy builds over months, not days, and takes time to succeed.
Publishing and Promoting Content: Developing a stream of fresh, relevant content like newsletters, tips or blog posts will result in quality traffic to your website, but will also place you among the top thought leaders in your field. Content that is posted, updated and archived on a regular basis will provide you great ammunition for long-term nurture campaigns and encourage visitors to return.
Social Media: As a collection of communication channels, social networks can be used to achieve both short-term and long-term strategies. In a short-term context, you can use it to monitor and manage your online reputation. In a long-term context, you can use social media to promote content, support lead generation activities, and engage in online communities.
Engaging in social media is necessary and important because social networks are increasingly considered one of the top channels for generating brand awareness.
At the end of the day, it’s a finely tuned balancing act. The key is to build a marketing plan that values and achieves short-term and long-term marketing strategies simultaneously. Doing so will ensure that your business is better poised to prosper for years to come.