create a digital marketing plan

How to Create a Digital Marketing Plan that You Can Implement

When you’re trying to create a digital marketing plan, as with anything meaningful, you have to know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. That is your starting point for developing a successful digital marketing plan that you can actually implement and track.

Having a digital marketing plan is imperative for the success of your business. Here’s how to go about creating yours.

Begin with strategy before tactics

So many business owners fall for the hot, new marketing tactic of the week. When you have no strategy guiding you, it’s easy to get distracted by the “tips and tricks” you get bombarded with from peers and articles on Facebook or in your inbox.

And that is a surefire way to waste valuable money.

The key element you need to create a digital marketing plan that’s effective? A strategy-first approach.

Ask yourself these questions:

Are you trying to sell to anyone and everyone?
Do you find yourself competing on price too often?
Are you struggling to stand out from your competition?
Are you unsure of what tactics even make sense for you right now?

These are all problems caused by having no strategy, or the wrong strategy. And they can’t be fixed by new tactics, they can only be fixed with strategy solutions.

That means knowing your big picture business goals. Get those well-defined and it will be much easier to put the right tactics in place to make that strategy a success.

Research your current customers

Talk to your current customers.

Your customers are an incredible resource you can learn from to help shape your entire business, your core messages, your products or services, and so much more.

By getting to knowing your customers - especially your best customers - you can uncover the best ways to attract, reach, and better serve the right people. You might think you know what drew your customers to you and why they chose you, but they can tell you exactly why/

Research your competitors

Conducting competitive research is pretty standard when it comes to developing a business strategy. When you create a digital marketing plan it’s so much more than researching companies you consider to be your direct competitors—it’s taking a look at your entire landscape of digital competition.

You want to look at what terms your competitors are ranking for in Google, what kinds of content they’re putting out on their blog, or what kind of ads they’re creating. This kind of research helps you:

  • Learn new ways to serve your customers
  • Understand why other sites are ranking higher than yours in search
  • Uncover the type of content you need to be creating
  • Use data to spot new opportunities
  • Seize new opportunities to gain customers

Promise to solve a problem

“Nobody who bought a drill actually wanted a drill. They wanted a hole.”

This quote illustrates one of the biggest problems, and biggest opportunities, with marketing today. Too many businesses are trying to sell drills - that is they are trying to sell their product or service and that’s all they talk about - and not enough businesses are selling holes - or the solution to a customer’s problem.

People buy better versions of themselves, not products and services. They want to look better, feel better, be more successful, be happier, be thinner, get relief from pain, avoid danger.

It’s your job as a business owner to understand the problems people are trying to solve and match your offers to those very specific problems.

You need to be able to match a very specific type of customer with a very specific need or problem, and a promise to solve that problem in a very specific way.

Map out the customer journey with the Marketing Hourglass

The customer journey is not a straight line. It weaves and winds, goes off the page, and comes back on. But, as businesses, we have to be ready to engage with that customer when and where they are ready to engage with us. The way that people buy today has changed so dramatically that instead of creating demand, we need to organize behavior.

A traditional marketing funnel might have the stages such as Awareness, Consideration, and Purchase. But the thing that the traditional marketing funnel neglects to address is that when it comes to lead and referral generation, a happy customer is your most powerful asset.

This is why at Good Ideas Marketing we utilize the Duct Tape Marketing Marketing Hourglass approach. It consists of seven connected stages customers go through:

  • Know—one of the best ways to become known is through organic search. Start using content to spark interest.
  • Like—once someone knows your business, you need to nurture your leads during this phase by demonstrating your expertise, sharing knowledge, and giving them useful resources.
  • Trust—people buy from organizations they trust. Get your customers involved in content creation. This is where customer-generated videos, case studies, stories, and social media are a major playing piece.
  • Try—this stage is where the audition happens. It’s where you need to really deliver more than anyone. Consider doing a free or low-cost version of what you sell.
  • Buy—time to show real results and keep the experience high in this stage. Think about how you orient new customers, exceed their expectations, and surprise them. The complete customer experience is measured by the end result, not what you did to get the sale.
  • Repeat—the best way to get repeat business is to make sure your clients receive and understand the value of doing business with you.
  • Refer—turn happy customers into referral customers. Create a remarkable experience with your customers that exceeds their expectations so they are compelled to share your business with others.

Every business has these stages, but many aren’t addressing them all. You need to figure out what the journey is like for your ideal customer or people who are looking for the solutions you offer.

Use the Marketing Hourglass framework to map your customer journey. Then, the next step to create a digital marketing plan is to strategically use different types of content at the various stages of the hourglass.

Use content as the voice of strategy to create a digital marketing plan

Content creation is one of the hardest jobs a marketer has to do. All that content - websites, blogs, emails, social media posts, videos, ads - is a ton of work, but when you plan your content with your hourglass in mind, it’s the highest payoff work you can do.

Content has grown beyond just being a tactic—it touches all aspects of your marketing and your business. It powers the entire customer journey and it's vital when you create a digital marketing plan.

Your audience expects to be able to find information about any product, service, or challenge they face simply by doing a Google search. And if you aren’t showing up, your phone won’ ring. Even if they do find you, they probably won’t move forward with you because you lack credibility in their eyes. People go with solutions they feel they can trust.

You have to use content as your voice of strategy, and the best way to do this is to produce content that focuses on education and building trust at every stage of the customer journey.

Develop a list of quarterly priorities and live by the calendar

As a small business owner, you know there’s always plenty to do and never enough time in the day. But marketing needs to be viewed as a habit that’s ingrained in your daily routine.

We don’t rise to our highest level of goal setting, we fall to our lowest level of the systems supporting our goals.

By planning what needs to be done and when you can stay focused on the activities that will give you the highest return. Start by creating a list of the highest impact items you need to fix or implement for each quarter.

Then, live by the calendar. If you don’t schedule it, odds are it won’t happen.

Something that has worked extremely well for many business owners—who have been trained by the Duct Tape Marketing system—is adding monthly themes around your marketing projects, breaking them up, and spreading them out over the course of the year. If you commit to an annual calendar, you’re more likely to follow it on a consistent basis.

Measure what matters

There are so many things you can measure: sales metrics, social metrics, content metrics, conversion metrics, growth metrics, the list goes on. And one of the hardest things is determining what you should be measuring.

But you can’t measure what’s easy—you have to measure what matters. You can start by doing these 4 things:

  1. Create metrics that serve your priority objectives—pick one or two metrics that will tell you if you are moving in the right direction. Whether it’s your goal to increase customers by X or grow your audience by X, you need to define what metrics make sense for the goals that you’ve set.
  2. Establish target goals for each objective—figure out how you’re going to gather the data you need to gauge whether or not you are on the right track.
  3. Select the tools you’ll use to track your progress—dashboards are an everyday reality for marketers. As a business owner, you need to be able to see what’s happening day-to-day.
  4. Use your results to make improvements—when you’re measuring the right things, you’ll start to see trends, why something happened, and what you might be able to do to make improvements.

Running your business without a fully fleshed-out digital marketing plan is like driving without a map. Maybe you make it to your destination, but you might find yourself taking quite a few detours along the way. You can save yourself a lot of trial and error by using this approach to create a digital marketing plan.

If you’d like to talk about how we can help you and your team create a digital marketing plan for your business, get in touch. We love working with smart people like you!

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