Do you have a Marketing Plan? You need one if you want your business to be profitable and successful. Here’s how to put it together.
Marketing is about building and growing new and existing relationships that connect you with your target market. To do that successfully, you have to use content marketing to share your brand story and engage with your audience in a meaningful – and more importantly, relevant – way.
But content marketing by itself is not the differentiator it once was. If you really want to stand out in today’s world, your content must be aspirational.
Great content marketing alone can inspire your audience to temporarily feel or do something (if they are ready to act at the time). Aspirational content, on the other hand, ignites the imagination and allows them to visualize themselves as part of the lifestyle they want.
Your potential clients aren’t looking for a photographer who ‘takes great pictures.’ They are looking for someone who shares their perspective on life, and who helps them to validate their aspirational identity.
They are looking for someone who tells stories that they can relate to, and that they can envision themselves being part of.
One of the biggest factors that determines the success of your marketing is consistency. It’s your job to make sure that your audience has a reason to be talking about you all year long.
If you only put a marketing strategy out there just once or twice, without any consistency or intention, your audience isn’t necessarily connected to you and ready to buy just yet, so they won’t take action.
If you throw all of your marketing out there at once, your market will soon get bored and move on. If you take a break in your marketing then you risk having to start over each time because you’ve completely lost their attention.
You have to build excitement and keep it consistent – without gaps – so that when your audience connects with you and is ready to buy that you are at the forefront of their mind.
Putting together a 12-month plan for your marketing allows you to plan ahead to be able to create the content you need in order for your marketing to be successful.
Think of all of the great marketing ideas you’ve had in the past that you never got around to doing because you were too busy at the time. Or because you didn’t plan it out with enough time to create the content and launch it effectively.
Your 12-month marketing plan is a living document that you use to plan ahead and schedule the dates for every part of the process.
You are constantly adding to it, adjusting, evaluating and shifting things around in order to stay the course and keep consistent with your marketing.
As you add new marketing ideas and events to your business throughout the year, you will continue to add these to your marketing plan.
Step One: Gather and plan your marketing strategies
In order to put together your baseline marketing plan for the next 12 months, you will need to determine what marketing strategies and themes that you want to focus on each month.
You will also need a calendar that you can see and reference each day to ensure that you stay on track with your plan and make adjustments where needed.
For your marketing strategies and themes, start with the following:
- Download the Unconventional Creative 12-month Social Marketing Calendar from our sister site. This calendar includes fun and creative holidays, ideas, and themes to use for marketing strategies that are consistent with your brand and will connect with your target audience.
- Pull ideas from the Seniors Ignite Blog.
- Share and collaborate on Monthly Marketing Ideas with other creative entrepreneurs in the Unconventional Creative Facebook Group.
This is all going to come together to create your foundational marketing plan and calendar that you will continue to add to throughout the year.
Step Two: Create a timeline for each marketing idea
Before you can place your marketing strategies into your calendar, you must first create a timeline for each idea that you want to implement.
Your goal at this point is to determine all of the steps required for each marketing idea, as well as the time element involved for each step.
For each marketing strategy, answer the following questions:
- When do you want this idea to happen?
This may be an actual date, a certain time of the month, or a certain time of the year.
- Do you need to photograph example images?
If so, how long will it take to secure models and/or products, photograph the images that you need, process them, and have them ready?
- Are there other people involved with this idea (i.e. Marketing Partners)?
If so, how long will it take to get them involved and prepare their part? For example: Are you using a new marketing partner or a current one? Do you need to get items from them or get things ready for them in order for the idea to occur?
- Do you need to write copy for the marketing idea?
If so, how long will this take you? For example: Do you need to create wording for the idea to be marketed (whether on a printed piece, a website, an email, etc.)?
- What things will you need for your website and online presence?
Do you need images and/or copy for your website? Do you need a blog post? Do you need to create and schedule social media posts, tweets, Facebook updates, etc.? How much time do you need for each task?
- Do you need to have anything printed for this idea?
If so, what? How long will it take to get printed? How long will it take to prepare the things that need to be sent in to print?
- Do you need to order anything for this idea?
If so, how long will it take to arrive?
- Is there anything else that you need to account for in order for this idea to occur?
Note each task and how long each detail will take.
Next, gather all of the details you outlined and the time involved with each step, and put the full timeline together from start to finish for each marketing idea.
This step is crucial to complete before placing the marketing ideas into your marketing plan, so that you know when to actually begin the process for each idea.
This will also help you to track and evaluate your progress, and keep you on schedule, making it easier to stay consistent and eliminate gaps in your marketing.
EXAMPLE TIMELINE: Boutique Partner Lookbook Marketing Idea
- Meet with boutique for planning. 45 days prior
- Secure models. 35-40 days prior
- Pickup outfits from boutique. 22 days prior
- Photograph models in all looks. 18-21 days prior
- Prep images. 14 days prior
- Design and layout lookbook. 12 days prior
- Order lookbooks from lab. 10 days prior
- Create and schedule online copy/content. 5 days prior
- Deliver all items to boutique. 2 days prior
- Email blast to client list and boutique list. 1 day prior
- Begin promotion. LAUNCH
Step Three: Add the marketing ideas to your calendar
Go through your calendar month by month, adding in your marketing strategies where you want to implement them.
Pay special attention to the themes you set for each month, and be sure that your marketing is relevant to the time of year and your audience.
Keep these simple and realistic. I recommend no more than one ‘big’ idea each month, with ‘big’ not necessarily meaning time-consuming or costly but rather the focus for the month.
Many small marketing ideas can be planned ahead and scheduled, such as Facebook and Instagram ads, social posts, blog posts and so on.
The number one most important thing is to be consistent. But don’t overwhelm yourself – it’s better to keep it simple until you’re in a groove than to put yourself in a position of creating a gap or lapse in your marketing.
I recommend that you start by adding in all of the dates that you want to implement each marketing idea first. Then, using your timeline for each idea, work backwards to add those tasks to your calendar on the appropriate dates.
FOR EXAMPLE: Using the Boutique Partner Lookbook strategy above
If I wanted to launch my Boutique Partner Lookbook idea on Saturday, September 28th, then I would need to add the following tasks to my calendar:
- August 14th: Meet with boutique for planning.
- August 19th-24th: Secure models.
- September 6th: Pickup outfits from boutique.
- September 7th-10th: Photograph models in all looks.
- September 14th: Prep images.
- September 16th: Design and layout lookbook.
- September 18th: Order lookbooks from lab.
- September 23rd: Create and schedule online copy/content.
- September 26th: Deliver all items to boutique.
- September 27th: Email blast to client list and boutique list.
- September 28th: Begin promotion.
As you’re laying out your baseline plan, keep in mind it is just that – your baseline.
Your marketing plan is a living, breathing calendar that you are continually adding to, evaluating, and adjusting to ensure that you are meeting your goals in your business.
One thing you want to keep in mind with every type of marketing that you do is to ensure that you plan for building excitement.
Meaning, you cannot just immediately implement a new idea and expect your audience to take action.
You must first create a connection with your audience, and your marketing must build and nurture that relationship continuously. You must build anticipation for your marketing by teasing images and ideas, and trickling out the content over time.
By building up to ‘something is coming’ with your marketing strategies, and teasing with bits and pieces of what’s happening, you create a desire in your audience for more. Do not simply ‘throw something new out there’ with no build up; taking your audience by surprise will likely only confuse them and keep them from engaging.
Update Your Website Regularly
When you photograph images for your marketing (whether from a portfolio shootout, a marketing event, model sessions, themed shoots, etc.) be sure that you update your website with these images in a timely manner, and plan for how you will trickle them out to build excitement.
If you are taking days or weeks to prep your marketing content images, and not updating your website with that content, then you are losing out on the benefits that they provide for your business, and risking a disconnect with your audience.
Treat your marketing content as if it were your number one client. Because it is – it’s your business.