September 01, 2015

How To Create a 1-Month Marketing Plan in 1 day (or less)

As an Entrepreneur in the digital age, we must be agile. 

Meaning, the days of the year long, in depth marketing plans are on the way out.

I'm not advocating for having no annual plan. You'll definitely still need to revisit your vision, set yearly targets for your Revenue, Gross Margin, Profit, assign a marketing budget, do a merchandising/product launch grid and define customer related metrics, however the building of the actual step by step plans is difficult to set in stone so far out from execution.

I've come more accustomed to doing a 90-day plan, or sometimes in a pinch, a 30-day plan. 

For the purposes of this post, I'll take you through how to do a one-month marketing plan in a day or less. Most likely less!

Establish your Revenue Goal for the Month
Before starting your marketing plan, you'll need to know what you want to 'do' for that month. For example, let's pretend we're planning for October of this year (it's the first week of September)
If you've worked with me before, you'll probably have a monthly set of goals for Revenue, Traffic and Conversion all set out, and be adjusting/updating as you go throughout the year.

If not, your starting point should be what your revenue/sales are trending at over the past 3-months + past 6-months (look at growth over last year versus this year), as well as what you did during that SAME time period last year. Target setting is part art, part science. There is some educated guesses involved and assumptions that must be made. {Read my post on Making your Revenue target here for more details}

Set a Marketing Budget for the Month
Once you know how much you're going to do for topline (Revenue) in the month of October. You'll need to determine how much marketing budget you have available to spend this month. Maybe it's 0, maybe it's $5k. It's imperative to set SOMETHING aside. 

I always smirk when I see those companies profiled on Shopify's blog who say "I grew my business to 2 million dollars with no marketing spend". Well. They probably didn't pay for ads (like adwords or facebook), and maybe didn't even pay bloggers, however they likely paid for photoshoots, photoediting, graphic design, video editing, marketing assistants, giveaway / sample products, etc. I'd like to see a business that expended 0 dollars on marketing. Ever. Marketing is not just paying for ads. Make sure to budget for all of the ancillary expenses for this as well!

A good note to mention at this point is that setting your marketing budget must be done with an eye to your gross margin, and net profit. If you're not super familiar with retail math, I recommend checking out this post on a year in review. It goes through common terminology and calculations.

Understand Your Traffic + Conversion
Now that you know your Marketing Budget, and your Sales goal. How will you achieve it?
Sales are a function of traffic and conversion. 

You can find your conversion rate generally through your shopping cart software/ecommerce platform, or through Google Analytics. I suggest looking at the conversion rate last year during the same month (some months can vary from browsers to buying mode), and previous 3 months to come up with an average.

Well, you'll need to drive enough quality traffic to your website so enough prospective customers can view and browse your products. You'll also need to ensure your experience on your website, your policies, your product copy, and brand experience is conducive to a good conversion rate (I.e. what % of people who visit your website buy). Read this, this and this post for tips on improving your conversion.

Make a Traffic Driving Plan

After you've looked at your revenue goal, and conversion, you now know that to drive say $10,000 in revenue, you'll need say 10,000 visitors to your website.

Now, break down how that will happen. 

Google analytics will be your best friend in the process. Of course, many of us with existing websites have a heavy base of traffic that organically arrives -- through search, old pinterest pins or posts, old blog posts being retweeted etc. 

Next, visit Google Analytics, click on "Acquisition" and "Source/Medium". Have a look at the last 3 months, and what channels are driving the most traffic, and what their conversion is by channel. Are some bloggers driving lots of traffic but no sales? Are there cases that are the opposite? Is Facebook driving all of your traffic but no sales?

Look for trends, then make some assumptions based on % of traffic and sales they have driven in the previous 3 months. 

Say for example, Facebook generally drives 1,000 in traffic to your site monthly based on regular posting habits. Put 1,000 in your spreadsheet. Let's say it drives (for this example) $1,000 in sales from 1,000 visitors (amazing!). Therefore based on this, Facebook is driving 1/10 of your sales and traffic for a typical month.

Go source by source, and make some assumptions and see what the total sum of traffic is after this exercise.

There will likely be gaps between what you want (and what your traffic will drive), THIS is where your marketing plan comes in.

Make a Plan

If you have generally regular posting habits on Facebook, Instagram and other social media channels, I'm going to set this aside for now.

If not, you're going to want to create a content calendar, and map out how you will tackle those channels as part of your plan. Go week by week, or day by day and assign themes, write out blog posts, and curated content that you will share with your social networks.

The more detailed work comes into building that missing traffic that you need to achieve your Revenue goal. Keeping in mind your marketing budget, what can you reasonably do in that 1 month period to drive traffic?

Will you seek out a blogger to do a review of one of your products? Will you put a banner ad up on a targeted interest website related to your brand? Will you start a brand ambassador program on Instagram? 

This is just an example but there are many things you can do such as Facebook Ads, AdRoll, Retargeting ads, SEO work, AdWords, Product Listing Ads, Twitter campaign, Twitter Ads, Twitter Party, Pop-up shop (in person, yes!), Blog more, Guest Blog, Press pitching, Blogger seeding, Celebrity Seeding, .... and more. The list goes on and on.

There are many TACTICS that you can take to build that traffic needed to achieve your revenue goal and solidify your marketing plan. The one caution here is to focus on less is more. Quality over quantity. 

In my experience, driving thousands of views from non-targeted traffic just sucks. It doesn't convert, and quite honestly it makes you feel bad about your store. When you get the correct balance of the right traffic, from the right source, and the right product you are promoting, it converts like a dream, and you make money at a reasonable cost.

The Last Step + Most Important

Execute. Execute. Execute.

Having a plan is great, but if you don't use it, you might as well have not spent the time making it!

Making the time, and effort to consistency execute your marketing plan is essential. Yes, it is possible that maybe you planned everything out wrong or completely right {no one, despite what they may tell you has the magic crystal ball of marketing for small business}.

You do have to try various things before you hit your marketing sweet spot. However, you will never know what that is unless you attempt to do some kind of marketing. 

The most important and final last step is to measure. In November (or the next month), do a post-mortem review. How did you do on revenue? on your marketing budget? how about profit? Did you meet/miss/exceed your goals? Why or why not? What worked? What didn't? How will you do things differently?

The key to being a successful eCommerce entrepreneur lies in persistence, consistent execution and learning from our work, and optimizing the next time. 

Do you have a marketing plan? Why or why not?  What questions do you have about marketing?

Leave it in the comments below!

Wishing you much abundance + retail bliss,

Principal Retail Consultant/Founder