How to Create a Marketing Plan

by | Jul 17, 2022

To use direct mail effectively in your campaign, you must come up with a marketing plan and then, put it into practice. Think about it: you just can’t jump into marketing campaigns without knowing many (or all) of the most important details that will ensure that your resources (people, money, time) aren’t going to be wasted.

A marketing plan is a blueprint that guides your use of all of the resources and tactics at your disposal. With a good one — the right one — you will attract new customers, as well as retain or reactivate current ones.

Every part of your plan should demonstrate a complete understanding of your intended audience, the service or product you are selling or promoting, and the specific message of your campaign. Also, it may be useful to know current trends in direct mail.

Don’t worry about the details of your budget, schedule, or USPS deadlines — not just yet, anyway. They won’t matter if you don’t get everything else right in your plan first.

Creating a Marketing Plan

Let’s start with some basics. You should ask yourself 3 key questions to help focus your efforts.

1. What type of marketing campaign do you want to use?

With so many marketing channels to choose from, you’ll need to look at what makes each special or best. And increasingly, it may make more sense to go with a combination of channels.

Digital marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, and direct mail marketing all have unique strengths that you can lean on when communicating with prospects and customers. One of your biggest priorities will be identifying the amount of resources you need for your campaign.

2. Is the campaign long-term or short-term?

A short-term campaign involves getting into a channel or combination of channels (including direct mail) quickly. It is ideal for boosting immediate results, such as seasonal marketing or limited-time only sales. A long-term campaign strategy depends on meeting goals through clear and consistent branding across one or more channels. Creating and maintaining a continuous presence extends your reach beyond getting attention to actually achieving relevancy.

3. What is your product?

It seems like a simple enough question. But with marketing, you have to consider which channel (or channels) is best suited for selling a particular product or service. How does it differ from what competitors in your space offer? And how do customers perceive the benefits of your product? Whether you use direct mail alone or in combination with other media, you should always give them a reason (or several) to buy, and then, to stay loyal.

Outlining Your Marketing Budget

Unless you have unlimited resources, your marketing plan will have to fit within a budget. In direct mail, for instance, you have many options to consider that cover a wide spectrum of costs, such as:

  • Format
  • Design
  • Printing
  • Processing
  • Postage

When you know your marketing budget ahead of time, you’ll make more informed decisions for each stage of your campaign. This will make it much more likely that you’ll get the most for your money and end up with a campaign that finishes in the black.

Start by asking some basic questions.

1. What is your current revenue?

Whatever that amount is, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recommends that small businesses (with revenue less than $5 million) invest between 7% and 8% of total revenue to marketing. Other experts recommend less, more in the 2-5% range, if you have smaller margins. The point is that you should always dedicate funds for your marketing throughout the year.

2. Is your marketing budget adaptable?

Alterations to your plan and unforeseen costs can do some serious harm to your budget. That’s why it’s so important to have contingency plans or reserves that can be tapped if something goes wrong.

3. Do you have proper resources?

An important part of your marketing strategy is carefully considering the costs for any of the marketing channels utilized in your campaigns. For direct mail, that means paper, ink, and other consumables. But regardless of which way you go, don’t forget about people, data, and other common costs.

Developing a Marketing Strategy

So let’s flesh this out more. A successful marketing strategy – such as one that includes direct mail – must settle on a few essential components before the process really starts to get moving.

1. Who is your target audience?

The days of “spray-and-pray” mass marketing no longer provide the only solution for marketers. In fact, it’s smarter and more affordable to focus your efforts on specific groups of people who have something in common, like geography, demographics, behavior, and lifestyle. With a segmentation strategy, you improve your direct mail response by tailoring your offers, copy, and more.

However, even with segments, one message may not be exactly right for every prospect or customer. Developing buyer personas combines data with informed speculation about preferences, concerns, and motivations to create ideal customers. Based on your campaign or company goals, you can then prioritize which personas you want to target.

Another approach is to personally focus on customers on a 1-to-1 basis. Variable data allows you to customize offers, copy and more, and stands out on a Variable Data Printing (VDP) direct mail piece.

2. What are your marketing goals?

What is the goal of your campaign? Sometimes there may be more than one answer. Conducting a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses. Opportunities, Threats) Analysis of your competitive position, target markets, etc. will help you ensure that you’re aligned with other parts of your plan.

Your basic choices for marketing goals are:

  • Acquire new customers
  • Generate or convert leads
  • Sell to existing or past customers
  • Cross-sell to customers
  • Increase market share for a product, service, or company

3. What marketing tactics should you use?

Many common activities can help you carry out your strategy to reach or influence your marketing goals. In today’s marketplaces, multichannel campaigns work together effectively as long as they are integrated and tracked.

Examples of a wide range of tactics include:

  • Direct mail handwritten letters
  • Automated referrals
  • Instagram campaign
  • Email campaign to expired customers
  • Trade show exhibition
  • Videos
  • Blogs
  • Landing pages

Here are 4 other direct mail ideas for your campaigns.

Keep in mind that not all marketing tactics perform equally well for every goal. What works for one brand, product or service may not work for another.

Wrapping it up

It is possible to build and run a business without a marketing plan. However, having a marketing plan saves you time and money. With a clear strategy, smart budget, and dedicated resources, you increase your chances for success, and your peace of mind.

You can get started on creating a marketing plan that delivers great ROI with mailing.com as your partner. We have over 50 years of success working with companies and non-profits. Our direct mail data and mailing services experts can help you develop the strategies right for you and your direct mail marketing plan. Please contact us to set up a consultation. We’d love to hear from you!

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