Marian Burk Wood, author of The Marketing Plan Handbook, defines marketing plans as “comprehensive documents that summarize marketplace knowledge and the strategies and steps to be taken in achieving the objectives set by marketing managers for a particular period.”
According to the Content Marketing Institute, it is important to remember that marketing plans are not editorial calendars or a to-do list full of marketing-related tasks. It should outline a clear strategy to achieve a goal.
Here are some key elements to consider adding to your association’s marketing plan (or reviewing with fresh eyes if your plan has been in place for a while):
- Your target customer
According to Forbes, you should think through and research who your typical customers are. Come up with personas for your typical customers and even give them names. Think of these customers when you are making decisions. It is crucial to understand who would use your product or service in order to market to them. Consider current, lapsed and prospective members as you develop your segments.
According to Inc., you should research your organization’s position in the market. This will help you get a feel for how customers view you compared to your competitors. Consider not just other associations that may vie for your members/customers, but for-profit companies that may provide educational offerings that compete with yours. When you pinpoint your current position in the market, set a goal for where you would like to be positioned in the future.
- A unique selling proposition
Forbes also explains that a marketing plan should include a statement about why your organization is different from other similar ones. For example, Jimmy John’s uses their slogan “Freaky Fast” to show that they deliver faster than any of their competitors.
- Competitor analysis
Take the time to research your competitors. Inc. explains that you should have a solid understanding of their market, pricing and how their services are different than yours. Including this in your plan will help you determine how you stand out and help you find ways to market those strengths.
- Marketing strategy
Inc. suggests adding in the resources you have for marketing. Does this include comprehensive social media? Websites? Webinars? Conferences? Emails? How will these resources be utilized? And how often? Consider these items when creating your marketing plan.
- Conversion strategy
Forbes explains that you should include how you take interested people and turn them into customers. Do you offer any free content to draw customers in? Do you advertise to people in a certain industry or profession? Lay out how you draw people into your organization.
Think through what you can spend on marketing and how the money will be spent. Inc. says this is a crucial element as you will be able to see your return on investment after the plan has been implemented.
The Content Marketing Institute stresses the importance of taking the time to create this plan:
“Many marketers and firms will claim they have the marketing plans in their head, or within the tribal knowledge of the organization. This is simply not good enough. Many firms will have several disparate pieces of a marketing plan spread throughout the organization (i.e., with the sales department, product managers, marketing department, executive leadership team, strategic business planners). But in order for marketing to be successful, your organization must create and own a proper marketing plan, first and foremost.”