There is no mystique to creating a Marketing Plan; it’s about understanding the Buyers’ Journey. First, you need to understand the Buyers Journey and the different stages in it. Then you have to ensure you have something in place at each stage to help your prospective customers make a decision to move forwards and, ultimately, buy from you. This structured, methodical approach can be used whatever your company is offering to whichever segment.

So, let’s look at the journey your buyer takes when they make any purchase decision. And as we do that, we’ll look at how you can use it to create a structured marketing plan.

[Note: You have probably seen very similar models to this. For a good reason: it’s all based on human psychology and there are only so many ways you can say the same thing! So, pick the version of this model that works best for you and your business and apply the same principles to create a structured, effective marketing plan.]

The Buyers Journey - KMS Marketing version

                                       The Buyers Journey and your Marketing Plan – KMS Marketing version

 

Step 1. Unaware

This is an essential-to-understand stage, but it’s often missed off the Buyer’s Journey. Unless you’re Coca-Cola, Google, Microsoft etc. the chances are that most of the people you want as clients don’t actually know your business exists.

So, at this stage, you need to know how many potential clients are out there i.e. your potential market size.

Then, decide whom in this group of potential clients your company is best positioned to serve.

This could be a whole segment e.g. all men in the home counties aged 25 to 45 who commute to London or a specific group of companies or individuals e.g. all women in senior management in charities based in London and within 75 miles.

You have just created your target market list. Now you know who they are and how many of them you want to reach, design your marketing for them.

 

Marketing Plan tip:

Make sure you already know who your segments are. It means at this stage you are then seeking them out and identifying them rather than seeing who is out there and figuring out if they’re a segment for you.My previous blog post, Five Conversations to unlock your growth. Conversation#2: Whose problems are you solving? (segmentation) will help you with this.

 

Step 2. Aware

To help move prospective clients from unaware to aware, your marketing has to be everywhere they turn.

I describe this as “pings” on their radar; your company keeps cropping up in a non-obstrusive, helpful, interesting manner. It’s like the person you keep bumping into at networking events, seeing their stuff on LinkedIn and hearing their name cropping up – you know they exist and what they do. They are on your radar.  Being on people’s radar means that your product / company / name are what will come to mind when they need a service like yours or are asked to recommend a product or service that you provide.

This awareness raising marketing is what most people think of as “marketing”. Many businesses pump money into this promotional marketing, then stop there. That’s the equivalent of going networking, smiling and chatting to a lot of people but not handing out your business card, or connecting with them on LinkedIn or following up the conversations. A waste of time. So, don’t stop here. Make sure once you are on their radar that you stay there and that you have more at the next stage.

 

Marketing Plan tip:

Your company has to raise and maintain its profile through marketing activities such as advertising, social media, networking, speaking at events, PR, attending trade shows and other tactical marketing that gets you noticed. But these only work if they are where your prospective clients are looking.

 

Step 3. Interested

You’ve got and are maintaining their attention – now you need to hold their interest until they’re ready to consider purchasing your product or service.

Your goals at this stage are:

  • to stay on their radar and;
  • make sure you can provide more information when and how they want it.

You do this by providing them with a regular, frequent, helpful, interesting, possibly entertaining, and expert content. And you make sure you present this content in a range of ways, engaging all the senses and communication methods. Of course, if you know your target group favour one particular means of communication then choose that more frequently but variety is the key here.

 

Marketing Plan tip:

Provide a slightly deeper level of content for them to engage with. They will then get to know you better. You can provide this content through marketing tools such as LinkedIn articles, blog posts, videos, speaking at events, your website pages, memes, info graphics. Make sure you present it in a variety of ways: images, written word, spoken word, images + speaking, images + words etc.

 

Step 4. Considering

When they’re ready, your prospective clients will look for ways to solve the problems they have. They are actively considering different options and alternatives. You have to make it easy for them to consider yours and to prove what your product / service can do for them. The key word here is prove. Overwhelm them with evidence about why you are best placed to help them and how you have helped others like them.

 

Marketing Plan tip:

Make sure your marketing here includes: reviews, ratings, case studies, external accreditations, testimonials, real life examples, qualifications etc. Make sure you have facts and figures to back up your claims.

 

Step 5. Adopting

They have decided to buy from you – or, in marketing speak, to adopt the solution or product that you are offering. Your job here is to make sure that they don’t experience Buyer’s Remorse; you have to show them that they have made the right choice.

At the very least, you have to deliver what you have promised in the condition and timescale that you promised. You can go further – you can add “nice touches” to say thank you or give them unexpected but valued extras.

And finally, remember that current clients can see all your marketing, so use some of it to make them feel good about their purchase.

 

Marketing Plan tip:

Think of nice touches you can add such as vouchers off the next purchase; thank you cards or notes; a phone call to check everything has been set up okay. Revisit your awareness marketing – the “getting out there” stuff – when a new client sees it will it reassure them that they have made the right choice? Make sure it does.

 

Step 6. Loyal

Don’t stop now! Your marketing has to continue so that your clients feel valued and loyal to your business.

A Loyal Customer is a customer who, willingly, stays with, or keeps coming back to your organisation, so that you can keep helping them solve their problems. They are an advocate and tell people, whose needs you might be able to meet, about you.

 

Marketing Plan tip:

Create a customer loyalty programme which involves you giving them something they find useful, helpful or pleasant, at a time that works for them.

In other words – don’t get in touch when you want more business or around renewal time. Build and sustain an ongoing relationship. I explored different ways to create Customer Loyalty in this blog post.

Read more about what true customer loyalty is and how to create it in this blog post.

 

Your structured approach to marketing

The Buyer’s Journey lays out the steps that we all go through when making a purchasing decision.

Our job as marketers is to understand how and when our clients are taking these steps; what information they want and need at each stage of this journey; and then make sure you are providing that information in the way they want.

 

Next steps

There are two key steps you can take to improve your organisation’s marketing.

1. Review: If you know that your company has gaps in its marketing, then do a review. Systematically look at what you have in place at each step of the Buyer’s Journey. Then, fill those gaps.

2. Plan: Create a marketing plan that ensures you have something in place at each step.

You can do this in-house or you may wish to have an expert, objective professional marketer help you and your team. Read about how I have helped other businesses review and plan their marketing, then do get in touch and let’s talk about how I can help you.

Kara Stanford Strategic Marketing Consultant KMS MarketingKara Stanford is an award winning Strategic Marketing Consultant who helps businesses review and plan their marketing.

She gives them a structured, methodical approach so they understand the marketing planning process and how to replicate it again and again, guaranteeing successful marketing now and in the future.

Contact her to see how she can help your business.

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