Every industry leader should know that going into advertising campaigns with a plan can result in less expensive and more efficient marketing later on. Even if you already know that having a marketing plan is crucial, however, you may be questioning how to best approach creating one.

Successful marketing starts with your audience. During the planning process, it can benefit you to have an in-depth understanding of your customers and their ever-changing needs. When it comes to your best customers, you’ll want to keep the ‘four pillars’ in mind: demographics, characteristics, pain, and gain.

In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of planning for your small business. We’ll show you how to develop a simple, efficient marketing plan in three steps, taking into account your customers’ avatars, journeys, and behaviors. Let’s begin!

Why You Need a Marketing Plan

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efficient marketing plan in three steps

A well-thought-out marketing plan can make a huge difference – not only to your bottom line but to the amount of time you’ll need to dedicate to your marketing efforts. Without a focused strategy, you may end up spending too many resources on experimenting with different ad placements, content strategies, and platforms. By developing a plan, on the other hand, you may be able to bypass a lot of this guesswork.

When you have a clear picture of who your customer is, you can begin to formulate an effective and efficient marketing strategy. Identifying your audience using the four pillars (which we’ll discuss in a moment) can help you flesh out your plan even further. You should be able to uncover key touchpoints that will help you guide your leads along their customer journey. 

Developing a plan is an essential part of ensuring that you maximize your time and marketing dollars. Ultimately, it should enable you to meet your best customers where they are, appeal to their needs, and provide a frictionless path to conversion. 

How to Develop an Efficient Marketing Plan to Ensure Company Success (In 3 Steps)

Now that we’ve covered how having a plan benefits you and your customers, let’s look at how you can develop a solid marketing strategy in three steps.

Step 1: Create Your Customer Avatar

The first step in successfully marketing to your customers is knowing who they are. One of the best ways to do this is by building an avatar to represent your target audience. Doing so can help you better appeal to them through content marketing, email marketing, or any other strategies you decide to employ:

Customer avatar - step one of an efficient marketing plan

When building your customer avatar, it’s essential to distinguish between your ‘customers’ and your ‘best customers.’ To put it mathematically, only 20 percent of your customers are ‘best customers’. However, that 20 percent will account for about 80 percent of your business. Not only do they buy from you, but they’ll likely share their positive experiences with others, potentially bringing in new customers. 

You’ll want to be sure that your marketing efforts are especially appealing to that crucial minority. A customer avatar can help you understand how to do that. As you can see in the above image, there are four quadrants you’ll want to focus on when you create your customer avatar:

  1. Demographics: Your customer’s age, race, ethnicity, gender, marital status, income, employment, and other demographic information, as well as physical traits.
  2. Characteristics: This category includes your customer’s attitudes and personality.
  3. Pain: This is the problem your customer needs solved.
  4. Gain: This quadrant involves how solving the problem will benefit your customer.

As you build your customer avatar, it’s important to spend time thinking about each of the four quadrants. You can take advantage of any relevant data you might have to help you with the demographics quadrant. A marketing tracking system can make it easier to narrow down which social media platforms they’re most active on. Then you can use those networks to get a feel for your customers’ characteristics.

A solid understanding of the first two quadrants can help you with the ‘pain’ and ‘gain’ aspects. These quadrants highlight opportunities for how you can assist your customers and provide value to them. Once you’re armed with this information, you’ll be ready to start building the customer journey.

Step 2: Document the Customer Journey

You can think of the customer journey as a roadmap. It shows where your customer is right now, and where they want to be. Your marketing efforts should help them get from point A to point B:

Customer Journey - step two of an efficient marketing plan

Every experience a customer has with your brand is part of their journey. The map documents each of the touchpoints a potential lead encounters as they become more familiar with your company.

It’s important to understand that the customer journey isn’t always linear. One prospect may begin closer to the end than another, and some may skip steps altogether.

With the information from your customer avatar handy, consider how this person is most likely to find your site. Perhaps they look for read recommendations in a Facebook group, or maybe they go straight to Google.

Once a potential customer lands on your site, you’ll want to take stock of the interactions they’re likely to have there. This is the perfect time to assess your website and ensure that the experience is frictionless.

For example, you can take note of how easy it is to find information or reach out for additional help. You can map out the purchase process as well. Choosing payment and shipping options, adding a product to a cart, and creating an account are all part of the customer journey. 

Also, don’t neglect post-purchase behavior. This may include confirmation and shipping emails, the availability of ongoing customer support, and the returns process.

It’s vital to always keep the satisfaction of your prospects at the forefront of your mind. Once you’ve fleshed out your customer journey, you can use it to build a marketing funnel to guide your prospects further.

Step 3: Establish Your Marketing Funnel

With the information you’ve gathered so far, it’s time to establish your marketing funnel. Typically, marketing funnels consist of advertisements, a landing page, a Call to Action (CTA), and possibly other tactics. The purpose of the funnel is to guide potential customers to a sale or other conversion.

The most effective marketing funnels are based on three pillars: Traffic, Relationship, and Value – or TRV. As prospects move through the customer journey, they should be moving deeper into the marketing funnel. Each step presents an opportunity for you to demonstrate your company’s value to the potential customer:

The marketing funnel - step three of an efficient marketing plan

At the top of the funnel is awareness. During this stage, the customer is aware of their problem, and you’ll want to make them aware of your business. The funnel is particularly wide at the top, and many of the people in it may never become your customers. Those whose problems you can solve are more likely to move further down the funnel. 

Since you’ve built a customer avatar, you already understand the consumer’s problem and the benefits that they expect to gain from solving it. At this point, you’ll want to be sure that your advertisements clearly communicate what your business does best. You can try targeting ads based on your avatar to bring these customers to your website.

The next major step in the funnel is capturing the prospect’s interest. If you’ve used the knowledge gained from your customer journey, potential clients landing on your site should immediately know that they’re in the right place. You might capitalize on this by serving them with useful content.

To bring customers further through the funnel, you can try activating a desire. You can accomplish this by demonstrating why your business is the best option for meeting their needs. Remember to let your customer avatar assist you in choosing tools for this step. If your best customers skew young and trendy, you may want an endorsement from an influencer. For prospects who value facts, you might use a whitepaper or case study.

Finally, as we move to the end of the funnel, the remaining leads will hopefully convert and become customers. Again, you can look to your customer journey to be sure the purchase process is seamless. You might also provide your new customers with a way to share their positive experiences, and bring other prospects into your marketing funnel.

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Building an Efficient Marketing Plan – Conclusion

You’ll be amazed at how much more efficient your marketing can be when you have a plan of action in place. Taking the time to strategize and prepare can mean the difference between success and failure, especially as a small business.

In this post, we discussed the three steps you can follow to develop a solid marketing plan:

  1. Create your customer avatar.
  2. Document the customer journey.
  3. Establish your marketing funnel.

Are you ready to produce your foolproof marketing plan? We’d love to hear about your strategies, so feel free to contact us!

Author: James Hipkin

Since 2010, James Hipkin has built his clients’ businesses with digital marketing. Today, James is passionate about websites and helping the rest of us understand online marketing. His customers value his jargon-free, common-sense approach. “James explains the ins and outs of digital marketing in ways that make sense.”

Use this link to book a meeting time with James.