What’s the best kind of marketing plan? The one you actually use.
Updated: Feb 4, 2019
A plan is important when you’re building your marketing strategy, but it can also be an overwhelming task. We’ve seen companies with killer marketing plans, but they’re long (20 pages or more) and a bit unwieldy. The plan may have great content and tons of ideas about how to move forward, but if that document overwhelms you, it's hard to execute.
So, what’s the alternative? We believe a marketing plan is essential. It’s a road map that can bring clarity and get the team moving solidly in the right direction. It can encourage accountability and enhance the productivity of your marketing tactics.
We also believe that with all the work and wisdom that goes into a plan, it needs to be used to be useful. That’s why we’ve come up with a marketing planning system that is easy to create, easy to understand and best of all, easy to execute.
The Bootprint Marketing 5-W Inquiry
When you’ve got a gazillion things on your plate, a plan is certainly recommended, but it has to be easy to create and easy to execute.
In Linda’s early career work as a journalist, she learned the principles of effective journalistic questioning.
When approaching any subject and writing the piece, you had to answer the 5 Ws: who, what, where, when and why.
At Bootprint, we’ve adopted this method for planning because it works. It covers the basics and answers the critical questions about pretty much any marketing problem.
Here's how answering each of these five questions can work for your business from a marketing point of view.
Whether you're creating a social media post, an advertisement, or a broader marketing plan, you'll need to identify who you are addressing and what group the communication is tailored to. We’d encourage you to get specific here. It's also OK to have several audience segments – even for one piece – and that's something we’ll get into in a later blog post.
Answer this by really fleshing out your message: what exactly are you selling so your audience is clear on what’s on offer. That could be a concept, an idea, a service or a product. Often, companies do a really good job of the what because it’s their primary focus, but we’d argue that the ‘why’ is just as (or more) important. More on that below.
Once you’ve looked at the who and what, the where is all about distribution and platforms. Maybe you’ll create an ad for radio, craft a boosted Facebook post, create a sales piece to distribute to other businesses in town. This is where the rubber starts to hit the road in terms of executing of your marketing. In future blogs, we'll talk more about creative ways to manage each distribution channel.
Deciding on when your messages will play out is a multi-dimensional thing. Do you need a short-term blast, a long-term awareness campaign or a time-limited offer (or, all three)? Deciding on the best time to communicate can also mean taking advantage of special holidays (Valentine’s Day, Christmas) or in-the-moment trends (Food Day Canada, International Women’s Day). More will be discussed in later blogs on optimizing for trends, using content calendars and schedulers.
Answering this question is one of the most critical concepts to nail down for your business. Too often in marketing, businesses present a long list of features for their products and services but neglect to share the all-important why you can solve or your customer’s problem. Talking about the benefit of using your product/service results in a much more persuasive message for your audience.
Creating your own plan: keep it simple
When meeting with a new client, we always start by asking these questions because it gives us a good understanding of their business and the key opportunities and challenges that marketing can address for them.
We would suggest that even if you don’t write your marketing plan on paper or hire a consultant to write one for you (although that can help – it’s that time thing), it’s so important to take a little time to ask yourself the five questions above and think about your answers.
Do you have a question or suggestion on an area you’d like to see covered? Get in touch!