How to Make a Marketing Plan

Marketing plans aren’t essential for a business to be successful, but they are important for marketers to keep their quarterly and yearly goals in line. Making a marketing plan isn’t hard, but it can be a challenge to understand what you should put in a marketing plan in order to be successful in your marketing efforts.

Start simple. When I write a marketing plan, I start with the basic goals for our marketing strategy. What is it that we want to accomplish that we can measure against our budget spending? My first step is to make a list of all the known marketing expenditures we will have for the year. Over time, you should have a good understanding of what works for your business. My list starts with the basic channels: social media, traditional (print, outdoor, cable) and digital marketing (Google Adwords, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat). Don’t be confused that digital marketing lists social media channels, they are different when it comes to media spending. For example, what I budget for in content marketing creation is not the same as media spending on those channels. The creation of content – graphics, videos and management – all goes into my social media list. The amounts of monthly spending to promote that content is what goes into digital marketing. Keeping the two separate allows me to go back after we received analytic data to determine what type of content works, and what doesn’t.

Be fluid. If you told marketers 20 years ago that their budgets would be mostly spent online, they would have been confused and doubtful. The industry has changed dramatically over the years, and being fluid – even year to year – is extremely important for your overall marketing plan.

Don’t be complicated in your plan. The reason a lot of us have to create a marketing plan is to report up to our executives in the company. Keep the ideas of spending and why simple.

Example:
Digital Marketing
Facebook, Google Search, LinkedIn and Adroll will be the primary sources for the digital marketing spend. Digital marketing allows for us to build a targeted program based on audience demographic specifications. It is more cost effective and measurable than traditional marketing channels. The downside is that Google Search, in particular, has become a very competitive channel with a much higher cost per conversion. However, it plays an important role for building the AdRoll prospecting tool.

In this example, I am using specific channels that we are using, but also being descriptive as to why we are using these channels. This way, if I am presenting this marketing report to a group, I can answer any questions that they have about the spending.

Below is a full example of a marketing plan that I put together for promoting our MBA program at Youngstown State. In a business, you might do this per product, or for the overall business. I typically have multiple marketing plans for products, our overall brand, which allows me to be very niche but also provides me a guide that I can measure success against. If you build one plan for everything, you can lose sight of understanding that each product needs different promotion, aside from the business. Notice that in this example, I break down each channel, spending limits, time period and measurement. It shows that we are looking at the entire picture of our marketing plan, not just what we think we will do.

MBA Marketing Plan
May 2017

Overview

The Office of Marketing and Communications will provide design, production, contract coordination and placement for promotion of the MBA online and on-campus programs. This suggested marketing plan will consist of digital marketing and some print publication distribution. Marketing will also design and provide content writing for a digital brochure that will be incorporated to the MBA program pages online.

This campaign will run from May – July 31, 2017.

Audience Profile

Based on the initial meeting with the MBA department, the target audience for MBA program are individuals with 7 years of work experience, an average age starting at 30, and a minimum 3.5 GPA. For on-campus students, the typical travel time for night courses should be under an hour of drive time. This sets a radius around the Youngstown State campus of 20 – 30 miles.

Digital Marketing

Facebook, Google Search, LinkedIn and Adroll will be the primary sources for the digital marketing spend. Digital marketing allows for us to build a targeted program based on audience demographic specifications. It is more cost effective and measurable than traditional marketing channels. The downside is that Google Search, in particular, has become a very competitive channel with a much higher cost per conversion. However, it plays an important role for building the AdRoll prospecting tool.

The suggested cost per month spends below are to provide adequate impression values on each platform. This is the suggested spend, but it can be adjusted according the budget of the MBA department.  

Platform Details Suggested Cost Per Month
Facebook Targeting On-campus MBA within a 20 mile radius. Targeting Online MBA within a 50 – 75 mile radius. Will target education level, degree type, interests in business related publications and news, age (30+). $500

Projected Impressions:

2600 – 6800 Daily

Google Search Search will trigger within a set radius for both on-campus and online mba program searches. Specific keywords about areas of studies within MBA program, as well as MBA searches. $300

Projected Impressions:

213-260 Daily

LinkedIn Targeting on-campus and online MBA program. Youngstown, Pittsburgh, Canton, Akron, Cleveland. 25 – 45 age, business degree, 5+ years of experience $300

Projected Lifetime Impressions: 24,000

Adroll Adroll retargeting is activated when a user reaches the MBA program pages, or other specified areas, but does not submit to the Request for Information page or the application. This is a prospecting mechanism that builds itself on audience engagement over time. $400

Projected Impressions:

200 – 500 Daily

Total $1500 / month

Design Assets, Messaging and Conversion Funnel

Over the past year, we have developed a standardized brand look and feel to our advertising in the local and regional markets. This brand identity has helped us lift our overall brand recognition to our prospective audiences. We strongly suggest implementing the design features into the program marketing for the MBA program. The following mock-ups are not a final design, but include the brand elements and messaging that will be running in similar channels. Paralleling to our brand identity will increase the probability for conversion.  

Marketing to specific programs allows us to test messaging in real-time and create more effective ads. It was suggested in our initial meeting that MBA marketing as a general graduate degree is not as effective as marketing the concentrations of the curriculum. We will focus our advertising and content around the 4 concentrations within the program: Decision Making, Business Leadership, Managing and Strategic Thinking. This will be all encompassed by an umbrella brand promoting the MBA program offerings online and on campus.

Grow your career by developing your decision making, leadership, management and strategic thinking skills. Youngstown State’s MBA curriculum is designed on these areas of study so that you can focus your professional development path.
The jump from employee to manager takes more than just time, it takes the understanding of how projects, talent and processes impact the overall business. The Managing concentration of the MBA program at Youngstown State focuses on these areas to effectively provide you the skills to make that jump. Earn your MBA today!
Strategic Thinking is one of the concentrations of the MBA program at Youngstown State. Understanding how strategic marketing and management can take a business from small to large is part of our accredited curriculum. Learn about this and business analysis by earning your MBA today!
Your ability to manage and lead in your organization will grow through the Business Leadership concentration in the MBA program at Youngstown State. Our accredited program teaches skills of communication, ethics and social responsibility in the workplace. Take your career to the next level, earn your MBA today!
The decisions we make in business impact more than just our bottom line. The Decision Making concentration of the MBA program at Youngstown State ensures that your financial, economical and managerial decision skills become second nature. Take your career to the next level, earn your MBA today!

Conversion Funnel

All of the marketing materials for the MBA marketing plan will lead prospective students to www.ysu.edu/mba. This page will be a new landing page that includes more information about the MBA program. From here, users can click-through to MBA program page, or the MBA catalog entry. The landing page will include the AdRoll marketing pixels to activate the remarketing campaign, but so will the program page. If the user clicks to the request for information (RFI) and submits their information, it will deactivate the retargeting pixel for that user. Users that do not submit to the RFI will be retargeted for a given set of time, or until they do.

Analytics and Strategy Monitoring

As the digital marketing programs are run, we will continuously monitor the impressions, click through rate and conversion rates. As certain messaging and design assets out-perform others, adjustments will be made to the underperforming to improve the overall campaigns. Analytic data will be closely monitored and reports will be provided as requested.

All RFI data will be sent on a weekly basis to the MBA program coordinator and the distance education office. This data will be cross referenced to admitted and enrolled data at a later time to assess ROI.

What more? Listen to my Making a Marketing Plan Podcast.