Putting the map together to navigate safely to your destination.
Anything worth doing is worth doing right, or so my mother always told me. Little did I know how then that advice would guide (almost) everything I would do later in life. My high school graduation, my wedding day, my children's birth to my college graduation- every major event involved some type of plan.
So when I began my first marketing jobs out of college, I was thrown off by the utter lack of a plan for anything that was done. Why did it seem that most marketing deptartments were just responding to the need to make noise for sales or some other fire drill type exercise?
I knew there had to be a better way. And why was 'plan' such a 4 letter word anyway?
How to Put the Research to Work and Construct an Action Plan.
I stress the word action, because many seem to have the perspective that research and planning means delaying action and missing opportunities. What I have found is that those that research and plan find more opportunities.
Purpose of the Plan: The 3 W's
Who do you want as a customer? I was chatting with a smart marketer this past last week and she very astutely stated,"Not everyone is your customer, not every customer is profitable. Businesses should focus on customers that are the most profitable over their entire relationship. What is their lifetime value? Who is the easiest to deal with and not a draw on resources? Who comes back again and again? Where is the biggest opportunity?" Right-o Aileen-those are the customers we all want!
What do you want them to do? Sounds simple enough, we want them to buy right? As I heard the infamous Chris Brogan say once, you wouldn't walk up to someone in a bar, say hello, stick your tongue down their throat and then ask them to marry you right? It works the same way online, depending on where someone is in their buying cycle, asking them to hand over their private info (or worse- hand over their hard earned cash!) before they are comfortable and confident giving that out is like trying to make out with strangers. (ok, maybe an extreme example, but one that will stick I bet!)
Having a plan that has a content and/or touchpoint strategy will gently guide your prospects to conversion, at their pace.
What do they want? This means understanding their buying motivation, their real motivation. To do this personas are a key element. In the book 'Waiting for Your Cat to Bark', Jeffrey & Bryan Eisenberg (2 really smart and funny guys! As said in my best SNL impression) define personas as"...representative stand-ins for the modes in which it is possible for individuals to interact with you and your business." This goes far beyond segmentation of demographics or likes and dislikes.
But this is another blog post altogether.
Process to Create the Plan: AIDAS (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action, Satisfaction)
This is really the whole point to having the plan, to know what to do and when to do it. Right place, right message, right time. And the sexy part? You can measure it and test to make improvements on results.
Attention- How will they find you?
Things to Measure: SEO ranking, traffic sources, CTR, social media reach, new unique visitors, top entry pages
Interest- This is where your customers are going to seek more information- about you, your product, your industry, your competitors.
Things to Measure: Top Content pages, blog post visits and subscriptions, RTs, entrance path, product views, product review, returning visitors
Desire: They want a solution, you've given them reason to want yours, now give them a clear and easy way to take action.
Things to Measure: Trial downloads, whitepaper downloads, request for proposals, add to cart
Action: The decision is made.
Things to Measure: lead to closed business ratio, conversion rate, average order value
Satisfaction: A repeat customer is a happy customer (is a profitable customer).
Things to Measure: customer lifetime value, customer retention rate, repeat order value
Of course there are many more things that can be measured. A big part of your plan should include what you will measure and what action you will take on it.
As you can tell by the length of my post here, I love this topic. I could go on and on. If you would like even more information on thsi subject, download the 5 step Internet Marketing Process presentation and learn how you can use it harness the internet.