Marketing that delivers true business value is the only kind of marketing I ever want you to do. But how do you know if it’s valuable and will help you drive your business goals? You have to have a marketing planning process and stick to it. This practice — developing a marketing plan and continually updating it — can be lax for a lot of small business owners. Which only leads to wasted resources and frustration with results.
Developing a marketing plan will help you understand all marketing activities and how they connect to your business goals, so you can ensure everything you do in marketing makes sense and is worth your time, money and energy. In fact, once you get this down, it will become your go-to marketing touchstone.
Let’s Break Down The Marketing Planning Process
First things first: Before you even think about developing a marketing plan it’s imperative that you are clear on your overarching business goals. And please note, business goals and marketing goals are not one and the same. Your marketing objectives should ladder up and help you achieve your business objectives, but you also need to have sales, product and financial goals all working together to achieve your overall business objectives.
Marketing is just one piece of the puzzle. And each goal — whether business or marketing — needs to be SMART. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound. Watch the video below to bring this to life as part of your marketing planning process with a craft alcohol marketing example using our free marketing plan template you can access here.
“Make $200k in revenue” is not SMART. “Make $50k in gross revenue from tasting room bottle sales by November 15, 2020?” Yes! “Increase brand awareness?” Not SMART. “Increase brand awareness by growing our social media following from 2,000 to 5,000 by March 2020?” Better!
Ok, so once you have your SMART business goals down it’s time to come up with the associated SMART marketing goals that will support each business goal, as we did in the video. Since you often need multiple marketing goals to achieve each business goal, I first brainstorm all the possible marketing goals related to each business goal before prioritizing and moving the final marketing goals onto these sheets. Thinking about the different phases of the consumer journey and what you might need to do in each area to achieve your goal is often helpful.
Developing A Marketing Plan For Small Business Means Starting Small
Think of it like this…for any business goal, where do you need to focus your marketing energy? Are you brand spankin’ new and need to drive awareness before you can even dream about moving consumers deeper into their journey with your brand? Or, do you already have good awareness, but now you need consumers engaging with your brand, indicating consideration/evaluation? Or, do you have great big groups of fans who are already aware and considering and have enough of a relationship with you that you can start moving them to visit or buy? Or would your existing fans sharing with others be the most helpful in reaching this business goal?
If you’re new to marketing and have no idea where to start with marketing goals, that’s ok. We have you covered with our Craft Alcohol Marketing Bootcamp where you can go deeper just on the basics of marketing to level set, take our first three foundational courses to set all of your marketing up for success, or take the full bootcamp to get your marketing foundations solid and learn all about tactics for developing your marketing plan.
Now, I know: You’re all going to feel like the answer is, “I need all of those things to be happening!” You’re right, of course. But trying to tackle everything at once will not only overwhelm you, it will scatter your resources and likely lead to subpar results. Here’s the trick: if you make your goals SMART goals, it will really help you home in on what work is most important to drive the tangible result you need, right now. What’s most important to drive your critical business goals now? If you find yourself in a situation where you have multiple marketing goals per business goal, think a little about the order of operations or any contingencies between them to help prioritize and plan.
Then you can drop down into how you’re actually going to achieve that marketing objective. What specific activities, people, time and resources will it take to get you there? This will not only help you think through your marketing activities and plan your resources more effectively, but it will also help you determine when to say no to marketing opportunities or ideas.
Developing A Marketing Plan Helps You Say Yes AND No To Marketing Confidently
Yup…your trusty marketing friend is helping you do less marketing than you might otherwise! Honestly, this is one of the biggest benefits of having a well thought out marketing plan. Instead of being reactive and feeling like you may be missing out on good opportunities using your MUG as a vetting document helps ensure you only say yes or take on those marketing activities that will truly drive the marketing and business results that you have defined as important and urgent. Which keeps you on a more direct path to the results that really matter for your business.
Anytime an interesting marketing opportunity pops up, no matter how amazing or exciting it seems, refer back to this document. Figure out where it fits into your current plan or if adding it into your current plan would truly be helpful in achieving any of your marketing strategies, goals or business goals. If it doesn’t fit in but something in your gut tells you that you should do it, force yourself to sit down and review your plan carefully and figure out what resources it will take to do this and if now, given your goals, is really the right time to do it. If you decide it is, update your document to reflect the new reality by adding in a new tactic, strategy or goal related to this opportunity. More often than not, however, you’re going to compare these opportunities against your plan and realize that, as compelling as it may seem, it just isn’t a top priority for you, which empowers you to say no and feel good about it.
Use A Marketing Plan Template To Get Started
I know: this feels like a lot of work. Especially the first time around. But it’s important, foundational work. Which is why we’re providing our free marketing plan template to help you get started. Once you have it completed, think about the clarity and focus your marketing decisions will have. Strategy helps us make smarter decisions, use our resources more effectively and achieve our goals faster. This is how we drive real results from our activities, not just for marketing but across all areas. And ultimately, it will save you time when you can confidently turn down a tasting event that would have taken hours of your time and bottles of your product when it’s not truly in line with your top priorities to grow your business right now.
This should be a living, breathing document. It’s important that you review and update it every six months or so, to record goals you have achieved (yay!), make any adjustments to priorities and revise or add tactics, strategies or goals.
Go Slow Now To Drive Fast Results Later
We all want to do everything at once and push forward on all of our goals at once. But it’s detrimental to our long-term goals if we allow ourselves to get distracted every time a new marketing opportunity or idea arises (as a multi-passionate entrepreneur myself, trust me on this one!). By taking the time to plan and prioritize you’ll be better equipped to say yes to the marketing opportunities that will drive real results for your brand and feel better about saying no to those that won’t.
All right, ready to jump into the marketing planning process for your own business? Great! Click on the example below to get access to your free marketing plan template. Then, for each marketing goal related to a business goal, create a MUG (Marketing Understanding Guide – your free marketing plan template) sheet like the example shown below. In this example, before we can focus on driving sales, we need to focus on driving people into the tasting room. Therefore, our first marketing goal to reach our business revenue goal is all about driving tasting room traffic. And then you would have a second marketing goal related to converting that traffic into sales once you have the customers in your tasting room. Remember, the key is to keep it simple and SMART.
Developing a marketing plan can be extremely complex. There are marketing plan templates out there that are pages long with additional supporting documents and more. Sometimes that can be helpful…but for our purposes I’m keeping it as simple as possible so you don’t get bogged down in the marketing weeds, like we do with all of our Craft Alcohol Marketing Bootcamp content. Distilling down marketing key principles and techniques to give you a comprehensive understanding but keeping it simple so you can put it into practice for your business and see results right away.
Interested in ongoing marketing tips, tricks, and support from The Craft Cask and fellow craft makers? Join us over in our private Craft Makers Marketing Community on Facebook where you can ask questions, get feedback, join in on conversations, and get access to more tips, tricks and free resources to fuel your brand’s growth.