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Marketing Tactics

How to Write a Marketing Plan

What is a marketing plan and why is it so essential to the success of your business? Find out here.

Entrepreneur

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Firms that are successful in marketing invariably start with a marketing plan. Large companies have plans with hundreds of pages; small companies can get by with half a dozen sheets. Put your marketing plan in a three-ring binder. Refer to it at least quarterly, but better yet, monthly. Leave a tab for putting in monthly reports on sales/manufacturing; this will allow you to track performance as you follow the plan.

The plan should cover one year. Things change, people leave, markets evolve, customers come and go.

You should allow yourself a couple of months to write the plan, even if it’s only a few pages long. Developing the plan is the ‘heavy lifting’ of marketing. While executing the plan has its challenges, deciding what to do and how to do it is the greatest challenge of marketing.

Who should see your marketing plan?

All the players in the company. Firms typically keep their marketing plans very, very private for one of two very different reasons: Either they’re too skimpy and management would be embarrassed to have them see the light of day, or they’re solid and packed with information — which would make them extremely valuable to the competition.

You can’t do a marketing plan without getting many people involved. No matter what your size, get feedback from all parts of your company: finance, manufacturing, personnel, supply and so on — in addition to marketing itself. This is especially important because it will take all aspects of your company to make your marketing plan work.

Your key people can provide realistic input on what’s achievable and how your goals can be reached, and they can share any insights they have on any potential, as-yet-unrealised marketing opportunities, adding another dimension to your plan. If you’re essentially a one-person management operation, you’ll have to wear all your hats at one time — but at least the meetings will be short!

What’s the relationship between your marketing plan and your business plan or vision statement? Your business plan spells out what your business is about — what you do and don’t do, and what your ultimate goals are. It encompasses more than marketing; it can include discussions about locations, staffing, financing, strategic alliances and so on. It includes ‘the vision thing,’ the resounding words that spell out the glorious purpose of your company in stirring language. Your business plan is the constitution of your business:

If you want to do something that’s outside the business plan, you need to either change your mind or change the plan. Your company’s business plan provides the environment in which your marketing plan must flourish. The two documents must be consistent.

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Questions to Ask Before Determining Your Target Market

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The benefits of a marketing plan

A marketing plan, on the other hand, is plump with meaning. It provides you with several major benefits. Let’s review them.

  • Rallying point: Your marketing plan gives your troops something to rally behind. You want them to feel confident that the captain of the vessel has the charts in order, knows how to run the ship, and has a port of destination in mind. Companies often undervalue the impact of a marketing plan on their own people, who want to feel part of a team engaged in an exciting and complicated joint endeavour. If you want your employees to feel committed to your company, it’s important to share with them your vision of where the company is headed in the years to come. People don’t always understand financial projections, but they can get excited about a well-written and well-thought-out marketing plan. You should consider releasing your marketing plan — perhaps in an abridged version — companywide. Do it with some fanfare and generate some excitement for the adventures to come. Your workers will appreciate being involved.
  • Chart to success: We all know that plans are imperfect things. How can you possibly know what’s going to happen 12 months or five years from now? Isn’t putting together a marketing plan an exercise in futility — a waste of time better spent meeting with customers or fine-tuning production? Yes, possibly but only in the narrowest sense. If you don’t plan, you’re doomed, and an inaccurate plan is far better than no plan at all. To stay with our sea captain analogy, it’s better to be five or even ten degrees off your destination port than to have no destination in mind at all. The point of sailing, after all, is to get somewhere, and without a marketing plan, you’ll wander the seas aimlessly, sometimes finding dry land but more often than not floundering in a vast ocean. Sea captains without a chart are rarely remembered for discovering anything but the ocean floor.
  • Company operational instructions: Your child’s first bike and your new DVD player came with a set of instructions, and your company is far more complicated to put together and run than either of them. Your marketing plan is a step-by-step guide for your company’s success. It’s more important than a vision statement. To put together a genuine marketing plan, you have to assess your company from top to bottom and make sure all the pieces are working together in the best way. What do you want to do with this enterprise you call the company in the coming year? Consider it a to-do list on a grand scale. It assigns specific tasks for the year.
  • Captured thinking: You don’t allow your financial people to keep their numbers in their heads. Financial reports are the lifeblood of the numbers side of any business. It should be no different with marketing. Your written document lays out your game plan. If people leave, if new people arrive, if memories falter, if events bring pressure to alter the givens, the information in the written marketing plan stays intact to remind you of what you’d agreed on.
  • Top-level reflection: In the daily hurly-burly of competitive business, it’s hard to turn your attention to the big picture, especially those parts that aren’t directly related to the daily operations. You need to take time periodically to really think about your business — whether it’s providing you and your employees with what you want, whether there are some innovative wrinkles you can add, whether you’re getting all you can out of your products, your sales staff and your markets. Writing your marketing plan is the best time to do this high-level thinking, away from phones and fax machines, so you can devote yourself solely to thinking hard and drawing the most accurate sketches you can of the immediate future.

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Have-To-See Marketing Tips

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Ideally, after writing marketing plans for a few years, you can sit back and review a series of them, year after year, and check the progress of your company. Of course, sometimes it is hard to make time for this (there is that annoying real world to deal with), but it can provide an unparalleled objective view of what you’ve been doing with your business life over a number of years.

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

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Marketing Tactics

The Facebook Ads Strategy That Can’t Lose

It’s a numbers game.

Entrepreneur

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Running a profitable Facebook Ads campaign is simple. Not always easy, but simple.

There is a formula that can guarantee a profitable Facebook Ad campaign. Once you know the formula and the values to plug in, you’ll never sink money into a losing digital ad campaign again. I know it sounds too good to be true, but stick with me…

The Guaranteed Growth Formula

Here’s the entire formula: CPA < AP

Were you expecting coefficients, remainders and dividing by polynomials? Nope, there are only two values that matter when assessing your digital marketing funnel.

1. CPA – Cost Per Acquisition

2. AP – Average Profit Per Client

If your Cost Per Acquisition, the amount you pay to generate a paying customer using Facebook Ads, is less than the Average Profit you make from each new customer you’re guaranteed a profitable campaign.

Calculating Average Profit

To get average profit per client, sum your total revenue from new clients and subtract what you spent to serve them. Divide the result by the total new clients. For example, if you made $75,000 from 10 new clients over the past year and it cost you $40,000 to serve them, your average profit is:

 ($75,000 – $40,000) / 10 = $3500 Average Profit Per Client

If your average acquisition cost for similar future clients is less than $3500, your campaign will technically be profitable.

Of course most businesses won’t want to spend all of their profit on acquisition. An average business can expect to invest at least 7 percent but no more than 15 percent of revenue in sales and marketing. If Cost of Goods accounts for 60 percent or more of total revenue, your low profit margin may make it difficult to afford successful advertising. Decrease operating costs by increasing efficiency or adjust your margin by raising prices.

Don’t make the mistake of calculating Average Profit based on revenue only from the first sale. Use at least six months of revenue or your lifetime client value as the basis for your calculation, or you risk underfunding your marketing and sales budget.

Related: Here Is Why Your Facebook Ad Campaigns Aren’t Producing Results

Calculating Cost Per Acquisition

Let’s assume you’ve considered all of your marketing and sales costs and determined you can spend $350 per new client on Facebook Ads. Let’s reverse engineer your ad campaign to see if a $350 cost of acquisition is reasonable.

The simplest Facebook ads funnel includes four metrics that build upon each other to determine your acquisition cost. I’ve included standard benchmarks for use as a starting point, but your results may differ:

1. Click-Through Rate (CTR) – Percentage of people clicking on your ad. Your CTR should be near or above 1 percent.

2. Cost Per Click (CPC) – The cost of one website visit. CPC should generally be below $3.

3. Lead Conversion Rate – The percentage of site traffic that becomes qualified leads. This value should be 20 percent or above.

4. Sales Conversion Rate – The percentage of leads that convert to a sale. Aim for sales conversion at or above 5 percent. (E-commerce companies often skip the Lead Conversion stage and have a Sales Conversion Rate of 1 percent or greater.)

If 10,000 people view your ad at a 1 percent CTR, you’ll get about 100 website visits. At a $3 CPC, you’ve spent $300. Since 20 percent of your traffic will become leads and 5 percent of those leads become closed sales, we can calculate that you’ll generate approximately 60 leads and three new customers.

Your estimated acquisition cost using Facebook Ads is $100 per client, which is well within your budget of $350. This cost may rise as you scale and target less optimal prospects, but as long as your acquisition cost is less than $350 you’ll make an acceptable profit.

Complex funnels can include several ads and conversion points, but the Guaranteed Growth Formula of CPA < AP still applies. There’s no immediate reason for concern if your metrics differ from the benchmarks. You can and should split test ideas for improvement if your numbers are far from what you expect, but don’t mess up a good thing until you’ve got a better one.

Optimising Your Guaranteed Growth Funnel

If unhealthy metrics cause your acquisition to cost more than what you’ve budgeted, start with these adjustments:

Click-Through Rate Too Low or Cost Per Click Too High

If your CTR falls far under 1 percent Facebook may stop showing your ads or show them to second-rate audiences causing your traffic to tank and CPC to increase. To improve your click metrics, adjust your ad copy (headline and body text), ad creative (image or video) and highlight the benefits in your offer.

Refine your audience. Tailor your copy, images and call-to-action to the audience you’ve selected and ensure that your audience has the desire and means to act.

Lead Conversion Too Low

If leads aren’t converting at 20 percent or more, either the promise made by your ad isn’t congruent with your landing page, or the process of moving forward is too difficult. Try using the same image and headline in your ad and reduce the form fields in sign-up forms to the bare minimum. Also try retargeting visitors who don’t sign up with ads stating the benefits of acting now, or with a different offer.

Related: Staying Relevant In The Facebook Age Of Meaningful Social Interactions

Sales Conversion Too Low

If you’re an Ecommerce brand with sales conversion below 1 percent your shopping cart or sales process may have too much friction. Simplify the sales process to decrease clutter, or increase trust by adding testimonials and trust signals near important calls to action.

Your sales process may need improvement, but that is beyond this article. In the meantime, you can still increase revenue by cross-selling and upselling those who convert. You may also improve client retention with recurring contracts. Yes, that’s why many software companies are switching to cloud-based subscription models.

When used properly, The Guaranteed Growth Formula of CPA < AP makes Facebook Ad marketing an investment, not an expense. Using the formula, the most you should ever risk is a small initial budget to test whether your estimated calculations hold true in practice.

If your net profit is 3X your acquisition cost, your funnel returns $3 for every $1 you invest. Instead of asking “How much should I spend on marketing?” The question becomes, “How much do I want to make?” I’ve built a Facebook Ad Growth Calculator that incorporates the Guaranteed Growth Formula to help execute your growth strategy. Input your revenue goal and it will estimate the Facebook Ad impressions and traffic required to reach it.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Marketing Tactics

How Is Influencer Marketing Going To Change In The Future?

How is influencer marketing going to be in the upcoming time? Read on.

Maulik Patel

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Influencer marketing is definitely not a new story. It’s been more than a decade now that it is immensely dominating the world of digital marketing. While being extremely cost-effective, influencer marketing strategies have very soon ended up with a great exposure. The businesses are building an immense level of reputation and earning various links with the help of this innovative marketing concept. In fact, the influencer marketing agencies are coming up with new approaches of implementation with each passing day.

Moreover, like any other type of marketing, the trends of influencer marketing are ever changing. Like how the story was five years back is not the same now and it is going to further evolve in the future.

The anticipated influencer marketing challenges

With the continuous growth of social media, influencer marketing is definitely going to face a myriad of obstacles. A few of the most expected ones are as follows:

Expenses

The demand for influencer marketing is continuously on the rise and eventually, the cost is going up. If you want to enter into the market of influencer marketing and establish yourself as an influencer then you need to give a lot of efforts while building a personal brand and earning the reputation for yourself.

You want to become one among such influencers who’ve already amassed a great following means that you’ll need to make it worth it- sometimes paid promotion could be the right tactic. In the future, this scenario is going to be even more prominent as people will have to spend huge bucks to be a worthy influencer.

Customers faith

In recent times, consumers have gradually started distrusting the huge brands when they realised that the corporations are working for only profit without having the user’s interests in the mind. So, for them, influencers are now no more than some mere conduits for big commercial names. So, it is going to be really tough for the influencers to get the trust of consumers back.

High level of competition

Social media is no doubt such a place now which is teeming with massive competition and threats. Many influencers who are already thriving and the people who have an urge to become influencers turn it into a complicated scenario for you to enter in this space as an influencer in your own right.

Related: 6 Reasons Why Influencer Marketing Really Works

How can influencer marketing unfold in the future?

Of course, there are multiple ways in which the entire story of influencer marketing can change in the coming years. Let’s check out some of the most expected developments:

Exchanges will be ahead of favours

The chapter of influencer marketing is probably going to be a pretty much an impartial marketplace in the coming time. The brands are more likely to enter into a mutual collaboration with the influencer marketing agencies in terms of interchanging shares, posts, audience visibility while being more organic rather than asking for the favour of mentioning the brand’s name to the influencers

Networking will be preferred over individuals

Gone are the days when influencer marketing used to be the story of respective individuals. Now, markets are assumed to start focussing on the entire networks or industries. The future influencer marketers can get rid of the problem of being based on individual interactions by getting the insights of blog comments, forums etc.

Change in the concept of disclosure

Why has not native advertising sustained over the long term?

It’s because the publishers always negate to disclose which posts are the paid promotions. In such a scenario, influencer marketing strategies can move a bit ahead of this transparent problem in the future. All that they are expected to do is formally announce the sort of partnership or arrangement that is existing behind each and every content. The experts believe that this process might end up being quite a tedious one. Howbeit, the consumer trust will not be hampered at all.

Limited and sensible partnerships

Influencers might lean more towards self-preservation in the coming days. Rather than establishing a relationship with hundreds of marketers or products, influencers are expected to focus more on developing authentic professional relationships which really make some sense. For examples, the influencers are intended to concentrate more on such relationships which can be profitable for themselves as individuals and also seem to be appealing to their followers. Say, a move towards quality over quantity!

Winding Up

No doubt, the evolution of influencer marketing is not only dependent on the aforementioned factors. There’s much more that can happen. The time can only reveal that. Influencer marketing is certainly going to change on its own in either of the two ways, a more sophisticated one or become a mere peripheral strategy which won’t be completely accessible.

Let’s just wait and watch how it comes up to us in the future!

Aren’t you taking an advantage of the current extraordinary status of influencer marketing in the meantime?

Related: 4 Young Marketing Influencers You Can Learn From

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Marketing Tactics

Top Marketing Trends For 2019

When you reflect on marketing trends that have taken centre stage in 2018, what stands out?

Emma Donovan

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Maybe it’s the proliferation of Instagram stories or  influencer marketing? Or the fact that video content has become even shorter and simpler with the rise of GIFs.

The real question is how have you incorporated these trends in to your marketing strategy, and what should you focus on in 2019? Here are six up and coming trends that you don’t want to miss:

1. Say hello to the social CEO

Customers want ‘real’ brand stories and to know what drives them. Leaders who are successful on social media show their companies’ human side and give their brands’ credibility and personality. This builds loyalty and, in some cases, an emotional connection that goes beyond the product or service.

Customers who feel this connection may even go on to become brand ambassadors.

Tip: Share stories that demonstrate your leadership style as well as company culture.

2. Initiate conversations

While 2018 brought the chatbots, the trend for 2019 is really using these bots to gather information about consumers by engaging with them on a personal level and steering them towards a sale. Bots are being trained to be authentic and sound more like people than the robots they are.

For example Facebook Messenger becomes more and more useful for brands as the platform allows customisation of automated messages and the ability to initiate a conversation at the right time.

Tip: You can also integrate this with Facebook shopping and increase conversion rates by enabling the bot to sell products to a consumer through the Facebook platform.

Related: Pay Per Click Advertising. When, How And For What?

3. Keep it local

Influencer marketing can be short lived or a little superficial. So try to identify and partner with local influencers that are happy to work on long-term campaigns. Also use multiple touch points including podcasts, YouTube and Snapchat as well as Instagram and Facebook.

Tip: Before you reach out to an influencer, follow them and learn a bit about the way they represent brands and engage with their fans to see if they’ll be a good fit. 

4. Try Instagram ads

As Facebook ads continue to dominate our feeds, advertisers are looking for a new place to stand out and get noticed. Instagram ads are on the rise, according to the Merkle report that showed that while Facebook ad spend grew 40% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2018, Instagram ad spend jumped 177% in the same time period.

Tip: Do some A/B split testing with different styles of images and calls-to-action.

5. Personalise email communication

Make sure to use automation and personalisation to really make your customers feel that you are listening.

Using hyper-segmentation, you can target very specific parts of your market. This will ensure that they receive personalised emails based on what they have expressed interest in or actions they have taken with regards to your brand.

Tip: Use automated campaigns after a first purchase; to request a review on social platforms; or just thank customers for shopping and remind them to share their purchase online.

Related: Free Sample Marketing Plan Template

6. Post in real time

In an effort to bring offline marketing into the online world, Instagram TV or IGTV allows brands to create a place for consumers to watch live events or brand content in their own time.

In addition, IGTV replaces the need for YouTube in some cases as brands are able to upload 10 or more minutes of footage directly to Instagram for consumers to watch as ‘episodes’.

This will become more prevalent in the years to come as businesses include this in their strategy. IGTV videos are less formal and will typically cost less than a traditional TV advert to create.

Whatever trends come our way, the key is to remain agile and adapt to how customers engage with your brand. And more than ever before, it’s important for all marketing touch points to align and communicate the same message.

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