5 Steps to Creating a Marketing Action Plan that Drives Business
Last week, OpenView Labs hosted a two-day marketing summit for Xtium, one of our portfolio companies that’s focused on managed cloud hosting, backup, and disaster recovery. The output of the summit was a marketing action plan that will serve as a roadmap Xtium can follow to help take its marketing efforts to the next level.
I thought it might be useful to our other portfolio companies — and anyone else looking to elevate their marketing efforts — to share what the process of coming up with a marketing action plan looks like. At the highest level, there are the five steps you need to follow as part of the marketing planning process:
1) Analyze the Current State of Affairs with Your Company’s Marketing Efforts
Before you can create a marketing action plan, you need to first take a hard look at your goals and what you’re doing right now as a marketing organization to achieve them. Maybe you’re on track with some and way off the mark with others. The point is to hold yourself accountable in the interest of assessing what’s working well and where there’s room for improvement.
Some questions to ask yourself in the process include:
- What pain points are we currently facing?
- Are we focused on the right things to have greatest impact on the business? (By the way, here I’d argue that building a content factory should be one of those things.)
- Do we have the right knowledge, experience, and tools at our disposal to be effective or do we need to supplement the team in some way?
2) Brainstorm a List of Everything You Can Do to Improve Your Marketing Efforts
When you’re neck-deep in the work of the work, it can be hard to find the time to take a step back and reflect not only on what you’re currently doing, but also all of the other stuff that you perhaps should be doing. Having the discipline to do so, however, can yield some really important opportunities.
In the process, you might find yourself saying things like, “Oh if we just spent a little more time optimizing our content for SEO,” or “We really do need to revamp our website so that it speaks to our buyers,” or “If I just got around to trying X, the open rate on my e-mails would probably go up.” Compile a list of all of the stuff you know you probably should be trying, but may not have the time or expertise to execute right now.
3) Prioritize Your List
Whether you’ve got a list of 10 things you need to work on or 100, knowing what to tackle when is critical. Rather than try to take on everything — which can seem pretty daunting — decide what your top priorities are. You can do this by evaluating what the impact is that they’ll have on the business and how much time and effort they will take to execute. The highest impact and easiest-to-execute projects are the ones to focus on first. You’ll probably also find that many of the things you’ve identified are interrelated and can be grouped together into larger projects or initiatives.
4) Create a 10-day, 30-day, and 90-day Marketing Action Plan
Once you know what you’re going to be focusing on first, figure out what actually needs to get done to make it happen. Break things down into individual tasks and decide who is going to do what when. As the list of tasks start piling up, set up a plan of attack that gets your organized by what you can accomplish in the next 10 days, the next 30 days, and the next 90 days. You want to be strategic in your planning so that you can get some quick wins under your belt. Doing so can often be achieved by tackling some of the low-hanging fruit first, which will help build momentum while not diverting too much of your time from your main areas of focus.
The most important thing is carving out the time in your schedule to move these projects forward. That may mean letting some other things slide in the interest of the greater good. If you’ve prioritized your list so that you’re really focusing on the things that will drive the most benefit to the business, however, making your case to let some other stuff fall by way side temporarily should be pretty simple.
5) Tap into the Resources You Need to Complete Those Tasks
Any time you look to improve your marketing program, you may discover that you don’t have all of the skills or resources in house to do so. OpenView’s portfolio companies have the advantage of being able to tap into the expertise of a dedicated teams of professionals. But you don’t need to take an investment from our firm to tap into myriad other resources. For example, leverage freelancers and agencies, or simply spend some time getting up to speed by taking advantage of all of the how-to content available on the Web.
I’m confident that Xtium will see that their marketing efforts gain increasing traction over the coming months as they implement the marketing action plan we created last week. In the meantime, tell me what you’re doing to ensure your marketing efforts drive business.