Creating a marketing plan is crucial to online success. Your business thrives on human relationships. It’s more than just dropping a sales line on your customers. Relationships matter, and they take time to develop.

A successful approach to marketing requires being intentional. It requires setting goals, and using each platform to better enhance your relationships and visibility.

Creating a marketing plan requires some introspection, and content strategy planning.

5 Steps for Creating a Marketing Plan

Establish Your Goals – Every action you take in marketing your business should have purpose. You’re going to marketing groups, are you getting what you hoped out of it? Here are some examples of hypothetical goals:

  • to make $XXXX per year. That would require $XXXX per month/ $XXXX per week/ and $XXXX per day.
  • to acquire three new clients per month.
  • to establish three new revenue streams.
  • to establish an online audience of more than 10,000.
  • 30,000 pageviews in a year.

These are high level, big picture ideas. These are benchmarks for success later on. In order to turn them into a reality, you have to get specific while creating a marketing plan.

Determine your best actions – What needs to happen to realistically meet these goals? If you just stare at these goals for a year, they’re going to start to look unmanageable. They need to be broken down and addressed in chunks. Sure you want to make X amount, but without determining what that looks like day by day, you risk trapping yourself, like a deer in headlights.

Take a look at the actions you can take to make your goals more manageable. Here’s what that might look like:

  • Perform a content audit to determine what existing content is working, and which is not.
  • Establish a list of keywords to create ranking content and build a sound SEO plan around.
  • Establish an editorial calendar for your blog around this strategy.
  • Brainstorm ideas for alternative revenue streams: (consulting, book, new products or services, etc.)
  • Develop a content strategy around the art of storytelling.

Consider any actions that will help you create an efficient marketing process that will help you meet your goals. But keep those goals in mind while creating your marketing plan.

Establish Content Strategy – Be honest with yourself. Assess your resources. Determine how much content you want to produce in order to market your business and stay in front of your customer base. If you are a one-person shop, your time will need to be assessed carefully. If you have employees, can you ask multiple people to blog for your website? Maybe it’s time to outsource your content to a web content writer, or blog writer. Establish how many times you want to blog, and what you can do to promote that content.

For example, each post is:

  • promoted on FB, Twitter, G+ and LinkedIn.
  • emailed out to subscribers.
  • syndicated through which websites?
  • printed and used as an in-person reference with clients.

What marketing content do you produce in addition to your blog? White papers, brochures, courses, and sales letters all have their place and can help you win new business. It might be time to think out of the box and try a few new strategies for obtaining new customers. Your content strategy is where you can document those ideas.

How Does Each Platform Fit In – Name off each platform: web content, blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, email, etc. Blogging 2-3x can help your business rank for various search terms, increasing your exposure in the search engines. Guest posting or syndicating your content brings your writing in front of already established audiences. Go through and get specific about how each platform you have helps you attain your marketing goals. Establish the type of content you’d like to post/publish in addition to your blog posts. What kind of conversation do you want to have in each place?

Track results – Part of marketing is understanding how you know when it’s working. Go back and take a look at what kind of results you get from a brochure. Look at what results you get from that networking group, blog post, etc. Use Google Analytics to learn what works on your website, and what doesn’t. Marketing your business is all about trial and error, and establishing a learning curve. When something isn’t working the way you want it to, that’s ok. Just don’t be afraid to scrap a failed idea and move on.

The Importance of Creating a Marketing Plan….

Successfully marketing your business takes a lot of work. It’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day minutia of blog posts, tweets and comments. But you have to remember the big picture goal. That’s where creating a marketing plan and sticking with it becomes crucial.

Have you really done everything you can to meet your goals? Your marketing plan won’t lie.