A sample digital marketing plan
In the last few years, marketing has shifted dramatically. In the past, print ads and billboards were once mainstays in a marketing plan. Today, blogs and social media have risen in importance. The web or digital marketing should unquestionably be one of the most important components of your marketing plan.
So, what does that mean for your business?
It means that it’s likely time to re-strategize. Each new year brings new rules for online marketing, as well as evolving target markets whose business you’re trying to earn.
If you’re gearing up for 2016 and want to build a marketing plan that works, then follow this blueprint. This sample marketing plan is your start on the path to success.
1. Create a Plan
Sample marketing plans are easy to find online, and they give you an outline of how to strategically think about your business. Although there are a large amount of areas you can focus on, there are 10 you should pay extra attention to when building your marketing plan.
- Target Customers – Who are you marketing to? Outline demographic information, as well as psychographic information like values, challenges, and habits to better market to your ideal audience.
- Unique Selling Position – Your USP is what sets you apart from your competitors and makes you stand out in the industry.
- Pricing & Positioning – How you position yourself—as the ubiquitous provider or high-end specialty company, for example—should align with your pricing.
- Distribution – How do customers buy from you? Do they call in, order on your website, come to your office, or do you visit them to close the deal?
- Marketing Materials – This includes anything you use, print or digital, to market to customers. When reviewing the pieces you already have, note what needs to be updated, such as print materials, like brochures and business cards, as well as anything digital, like your website.
- Promotion Strategy – How will you reach your customers? Online advertising, press releases, trade shows, and television ads are all examples of ways you can reach potential customers.
- Online Marketing – Perhaps the most important form of modern marketing is your digital presence, discussed in greater depth later in this post.
- Conversion Strategy – How are you empowering your sales team to turn potential customers into paying customers? This ought to include developing sales scripts and utilizing testimonials and case studies.
- Referral Strategy – Satisfied customers can be your biggest advocates for new business. How will you harness their positive feedback?
- Retention Strategy – An often forgotten part of marketing is maintaining customers that already exist. How can you stay top-of-mind and get repeat business?
2. Online Marketing in Depth
Although traditional marketing materials do have merit—things like business cards, print ads, and television commercials—digital marketing has become one of the most effective ways for companies in any industry to communicate with potential customers and get more business.
Michael Tesalona, from Bradford & Crabtree, discussed in a recent blog why traditional marketing doesn’t work for remodeling contractors as well as it does for more immediate service providers, like plumbers.
“The reason is that people shop for a remodeling contractor in a very different way than they would shop for other services like an electrician or garage door company. Someone looking to do a major remodeling job will spend months researching online and speaking with potential contractors. And this is where traditional marketing fails,” says Tesalona.
Online marketing focuses on longevity. It keeps your company present through every step of the research process, as well as after the job is done, which means it works to get leads, convert them, as well as maintain customers.
The online marketing world is vast and ever-changing, so Tesalona recommends reaching out to a professional agency if you don’t have a team that can fulfill your digital marketing needs. Here are a few of the ways you can add online marketing to your overall marketing plan.
- Email – Email is one of the best ways to turn a lead into a customer. The repetition keeps your business at the top of potential customers’ minds, and the format allows you to offer useful pieces of information that can help them make a decision.
- Keywords – Keywords help search engines find your company’s website. You will want to put content on your website that contains commonly searched words, like “best contractor.” For better results, make the keyword phrases more specific by adding the city and state, or additional words like, “best home remodeling contractor.”
- SEO – Search engine optimization is how you help Google and other search engines find your website. This includes things like updating meta descriptions and title tags on the backend of your website.
- Social Media – Social media is a great way to talk to your customers and improve your SEO. The number of social media sites can be intimidating, but you only need to focus on the sites your potential customers use most. Your focus should most likely be on Facebook, Twitter, Houzz, and Pinterest.
- Paid Online Ads – You can pay for digital ads to get your company in front of more “eyeballs.” Google ads use keywords to show your business to those specifically searching for your services. Social media sites, like Facebook, also have robust ad platforms if you want to target specific demographics.
- Blog – Blogs, when done right, are good for SEO, they give you authority in the industry, and they make you a resource for potential customers. Ask your sales team to tell you the common objections they hear, and use that as inspiration for effective blog posts.
- Reviews – You understand the importance of referrals, but online reviews are just as important. One study says 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews, and they are often used in one’s decision to purchase. Plus, reviews on Google help boost your business in the search results.
- Mobile – Over half of the people on the web are using a mobile device. That means it’s important for your website to be mobile-friendly, which means it’s easy for people to use and find the information they are looking for on their smartphones.
3. Watch for Emerging Trends
Part of your marketing plan should be figuring out who your ideal customer is, but it should also be looking at who the real customers are, especially as the market is expected to change and grow.
Recent studies have shown a few important growing trends in the home remodeling industry. Here are some things to keep in mind.
- Millennials Are Growing Up – The biggest generation since the baby boomers is starting to graduate college, get jobs, and buy homes. Although some worry that millennials won’t be active homeowners because they chose college and renting first, millennials are expected to be just as active as homeowners from any other previous generation; they are just buying later in life. According to a recent U.S. News & World Report article, “The National Association of Realtors 2015 report on generational trends found that millennials, who are currently between ages 25 and 34, make up the largest share of homebuyers at 32 percent. Even more striking, millennials now constitute 68 percent of first-time homebuyers.”
- More Hispanic Homeowners – According to some predictions, the Hispanic population is expected to become the largest homeowner market by 2025, encompassing about 40 percent of the total market. In fact, minorities are expected to own more homes in the U.S. in the next decade than whites, making up almost 80 percent of households.
- Majority of Homeowners Are Seniors – Although the age of first-time homebuyers ranges between 25 and 34, the majority of homeowners is over 65 years old. When planning your marketing strategy, keep these two age groups in mind.
Building a marketing plan isn’t easy, but it is essential. When you sit down with your team to put a plan together, don’t forget about these three additional factors.
- Be Aware of Seasonal Changes – Most businesses have a busy season and a slow season. Outline when those times are for your company, and build a plan around those cycles. The slow season is a great time to focus more on your marketing, and specific efforts should be made to improve before the busy season hits.
- Forecast Your Spending – Marketing takes money to be effective. Plan your budget wisely so you can allocate money to resources that are going to bring in the most return. Track your spending and results carefully so you know where to give more, and where to pull back.
- Don’t Forget about Digital Reviews – Make asking customers for Google reviews a standard practice, and don’t leave bad reviews unacknowledged. Do your best to address the problem, so that even a bad review can become a positive by showcasing your superior customer service. For more tips on how to best manage online reviews, click here.
One final piece of advice: Don’t try to eat the whole elephant at once.
Marketing is difficult to tackle, but taking it one bite at a time will keep your stress levels down and increase your success. No plan is perfect, so be patient and always strive to make adjustments to your plan as marketing will undoubtedly continue to change.