It’s that time of year when the majority of our clients (especially the corporate businesses) are preparing their budgets for the upcoming year. While budgeting is an important piece of any business, so is a business plan. With these two items in check, most businesses feel confident in charging forward, but these tools lack the final piece many businesses overlook – The Marketing Plan!
This month we wanted to share with you some best practices on creating a marketing plan. Entrepreneur.com has a great article to give you the tools you need to be effective. We’ve added to their plan by outlining things to consider specific to the wedding industry.
Step 1: Take a snapshot of your company’s current situation.
Make the analysis of your situation, a succinct overview of your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWAT). What are you doing that your wedding clients LOVE? What are the things clients say when they post a BAD review? What do couples keep asking you for that you don’t currently offer? What is your competition doing that is differentiating them from you?
All of these questions will help with your SWAT analysis.
Step 2: Define who your target audience is.
Developing a simple profile of your prospective customer is your next step. Are your customers conservative or innovative? Traditional or modern? Introverted or extroverted?
Defining the clients you like to work with is a great step in deciding how to market to them. Looking at the changing demographic landscape of engaged couples, there are three primary segments currently at play; the young, 20-something couple, the around 30 couple and the 40+ couple. Three distinct demographics, each with a different lifestyle and each with varied ways to engage with them.
Step 3: Make a list of your marketing goals.
What do you want your marketing plan to achieve? For example, are you hoping for a 20 percent increase in top of funnel connections, meaning you are going to engage with 20 percent more potential prospects than you did last year (a bridal show might be the correct avenue), do you want to increase the overall spend of each specific client? (you might want to gear your marketing to a different demographic, perhaps you find the 40+ year old couples spend more on average)
Step 4: Research marketing tactics
What are the best tools to reach your goals? Some marketing tactics, such as bridal shows, print ads or banner ads are great for reaching cold prospects.
Email blasts, blog content and open houses are great for warm prospects — those who’ve previously been exposed to your marketing message and perhaps even met you personally. These items give you an ongoing conversation.
Your hottest prospects are individuals who’ve been exposed to your sales and marketing messages and are almost ready to commit. Generally, in-person meetings, contact by phone, email or direct messaging combined with continued marketing messaging adds the final heat necessary to close sales.
Step 5: Set your marketing budget.
The final step is to determine which of your marketing tickets require your commitment of time and which require a monetary investment. We set up an annual calendar of marketing initiatives and both their cost and time allocation so we can plan on a monthly basis, what is required as far as staff allocation and cash flow.
With a plan in motion, you can breathe a sigh of relief, because adjusting the plan as you go and course-correcting is a lot easier when you have done the research and made a plan that can be modified. You will find that this strategy will help to provide continuity as well and avoid the stress of ad hoc marketing decisions.