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Five Steps To Kickstart Your Marketing Plan

via Forbes: There are a lot of great tools to help marketers develop more effective marketing for their brands. Since 2011, Scott Brinker of chiefmartech.com has published a Marketing Technology Landscape infographic. In the first year, there were approximately 150 technology companies. In the latest edition, there are over 5,000 available to marketers. So the problem isn’t the availability of tools, but deciding which ones are right for you.

Here are five ways to get started on your marketing plan:

1. Use channel benchmarks to understand what “good” should look like.

If you start at the outcome you’re looking to drive, benchmarks can help you build projections and walk through potential scenarios of what it would take to accomplish your goal. To help, there are a number of publically available resources to get you started, such as:

• Google Display Performance Benchmarks: This tool benchmarks ad performance by format, geography and industry, making it easy to build out projections for your display campaigns.

• MailChimp Email Benchmarks: This resource provides details around key email metrics like opens, click-through rates, bounces and unsubscribes so you can compare performance against others in your industry.

• Fractl Content Marketing Benchmarks: Content effectiveness can be hard to measure, but one method is to track how your content is shared socially. Fractl has created an index that shows the average social shares by content placement across industry verticals.

• HubSpot Demand Generation Benchmarks: With 35 pages of detailed information on lead funnel metrics including cost per lead data by industry and company size, this report can help define goals for your lead generation program. While I have worked with HubSpot previously, the report is available to anyone for download.

2. Keep up with third-party research trends and industry blogs.

Another way to get started on your marketing planning is by understanding the latest industry trends. There are several publically available blogs that do a good job of surfacing these. Some of my personal favorites include:

• Marketing Charts: A resource with quick data hits that aggregates research on trends across the marketing ecosphere.

• eMarketer: Covering trends by industries and marketing channels, eMarketer offers both free and paid levels of content on marketing trends.

• Econsultancy: This site does a great job of bringing a global perspective to what can sometimes feel like a North American-centric industry.

• Think With Google: Highlighting digital marketing case studies across industries while demonstrating the convergence of our online and offline worlds.

3. Learn how to leverage empathy as your strongest planning tool.

A buyer’s journey is a psychological shift, not a voyage. Your ability to empathize with your customers’ needs and challenges will have a huge impact on the success or failure of your marketing.

I worked with a sales manager once who always emphasized the need to understand what got our prospective customers hired, fired, promoted or demoted. Understand that and how you can help, and you are a long way to a successful engagement. So instead of using a broad demographic brush to plan your marketing, drill deeper to understand the mindsets and situational components your buyers are facing.

4. Understand how your buyers like to operate when trying to solve a problem.

Are your buyers seeking a cutting-edge idea to stay ahead or are they looking for lots of proof and confirmation of other buyers who have successfully adopted the solution previously? If your most likely buyer is the latter, then the marketing plan you build better include a lot of case studies and testimonials.

Not sure where your prospects fall? Consider using a construct like the product adoption curve to think about your buyer and how you can more effectively market to them:

• Innovators: These types of buyers are often tech enthusiasts who want to be one of the first to try something if it’s different and exciting. If you’re offering a new product or solution, focus on marketing its cutting-edge elements.

• Early Adopters: Early adopters are willing to try new technologies as long as it promises to be a better solution than what they’re currently using. To target these buyers, focus on educational content so early adopters feel comfortable taking the jump.

• Early Majority: These buyers are a bit more careful in adopting a new product and need to be shown how it can help them. To do so, focus on leveraging your case studies and other resources, like an ROI calculator.

• Late Majority: Late majority buyers wait for others to adopt the product before dipping their toes into the water. They rely on third-party proof, which is why testimonials are especially impactful for these types of buyers.

• Laggards: As its name implies, laggards often fall behind on product adoption. They’re slow-moving in updating their technology and will likely do so, but probably not before Apple releases the iPhone 20.

5. Understand firmographics: What’s unique about the industries and decision-makers that buy from you?

If you sell to other businesses, you have an extra dimension to think about in your planning. What are the types of companies that buy from you? Are they clustered in specific industries? What is the role of the internal influencer and decision maker you have to engage with to make a sale? This is what is considered firmographic details, and the better you understand these aspects, the better your targeting and engagement strategy plans can be.

For example, if the buyers of your product tend to be from larger enterprise-level organizations, you will need to engage over time and be able to deliver the promise of a better future while demonstrating the concrete value of your offering so your buyer can get it approved.

If your buyers are clustered in more entrepreneurial organizations, your opportunities lie in demonstrating the tactical advantages and speed of implementation your products can offer.

When it’s time to develop your next marketing plan or strategy, aim to use all of your tools, including your ability to empathize with your customer. Only then do you have a chance of developing programs that will not only reach but also impact your target audience.

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