Marketing Plan Basics – Where do I Start?
Time to meet your marketing plan’s VIP
Your marketing plan is the path that brings your product (or service) to the marketplace. Advertising, pricing, social platforms, branding, images, data analysis, segmentation; all these things matter. But they only matter as it relates to one thing, your customers. Your customers have habits, problems, concerns, and desires. Even if it has no direct bearing on what you are selling it’s important to get a robust image of who that person is. Why? We’ll get to that, I promise, but first let’s talk about your avatar or avatars and why your marketing plan, business plan, content plan (indeed all parts of your company culture) should begin with this imaginary person who is incredibly important to your business.
Let’s think about your ideal customer, as an example, you are opening a tea shop in a busy downtown. You might already have an image of what that ideal customer might look like, she’s (a she maybe). She works downtown, she likes tea, maybe she likes yoga too. She earns over $48k, she’s a professional. She’s between 24 and 60 and she does love her cell phone. She works downtown but may live in the burbs or on a farm. She shops at Whole Foods and is generally in a hurry. I feel like I know her already so let’s give her a name. We’ll call her Ann. Of course Ann, your first avatar, is not your only ideal customer. We have the tourists who overflow from the neighboring museum, the retail employees from other shops and the fashionistas who frequent them. Let’s make them avatars too.
Your avatar is your business’s ideal customer fleshed out with desires, likes, problems, buying habits, and constraints.
We’re not done with Ann just yet.
The characteristics I listed above are simply my idea of who my target market is. To really know if I’ve got Ann figured out or not, I need to talk to her. (Yes I know I officially have you talking to imaginary friends but trust me just a bit further I promise this is a very profitable and important part of your marketing plan.) Here are some steps to take to get to know your avatar(s) better:
- You may have a friend or client you can impose on a bit. Ask some questions about her buying habits, lifestyle, and challenges. Where does your friend get news and information? Where does she shop? What problems does she need to solve?
- Use social media comments to find out more. Pay attention to what your page fans are talking about, you will find insights to their desires and needs.
- Use your web page and ad analytics to see if you’re getting it right since it takes some time to get a full picture of your avatars.
Ann, the urban professional; Joe and Alice from out of town who like the museum next door; Tina and Louise the college students who frequent the boutique across the street. Every time we speak (through organic content or paid advertising) we must speak to Ann; Joe and Alice and friends. We do this through segmenting (or targeting) and here is how it works in your marketing plan.
Ann loves her mobile phone, is in a hurry, and shops at Whole Foods. Great! Your marketing plan should include a Facebook ad that is optimized for mobile apps, targets a Whole Foods look-a-like audience but narrow the reach by having the ad deliver only to women 24-60.
Joe and Alice are empty nest grandparents from out of town, aren’t really smart phone users, and they like the museum. Great! I will create a campaign that targets museum visitors, Facebook can help with that. I might also think about creating a tea package they can take home, or a monthly tea subscription to enjoy back in Kansas and promote that with an in store display.
Defining your avatars is key to the success of your marketing plan because
- Know where to spend your ad money and what voice to use in that ad.
- Put your customers ahead of your product, a habit that is really hard to break, by the way.
- Connect to your audience on an emotional level because you will have a clear idea of their needs, challenges, desires and habits.
We know that story telling is key to great copy because people connect emotionally to a story. People also make buying decisions emotionally which is why we need to understand our customers on this deeper level.
Can you say, “Thanks Ann!”?