A solid marketing plan will put you on the right track for your best year ever
You’ve got a great SAP business and you’re proud of what you deliver. Now you need to communicate your awesomeness to the world, and how you can help them achieve their goals and solve their problems – this is where marketing comes in!
If you are an SAP partner who is looking to learn more about marketing or review the fundamentals, then this post is for you!
Celebrate your recent wins, but plan for the new ones
Now that the new year’s begun, it’s time to look ahead. It’s time to make new plans and commitments – it’s time to set new goals and objectives.
Now business planning as a whole requires that you consider all the different facets of your business – you need to plan for new development projects, sales endeavors, and recruitment drives, for example. Just as important as these types of planning are, you need to make time to plan your future marketing strategy as well.
Why is marketing important? As you probably know, communicating your value plays an important role in your business activities.
Why do you need to plan your marketing strategy? Because there are different types of communication strategies that you can employ, and depending on what exactly you wish to accomplish in your business, as well as the specific characteristics of your customers and where they are along the buyers’ journey, some strategies are better suited than others.
In addition, considering that the marketing endeavors you choose require budget, resources, and time, you will likely need to justify your strategy to stakeholders and company executives, to show that you are using company assets for activities that have the best chance of succeeding.
Therefore, we strongly recommend that you document your thoughts, ideas, and plans in a formal document called a marketing plan, which you can share with your team, consult or update whenever required, and use as your primary guide along this year’s marketing journey.
So what’s a marketing plan?
In its simplest form, a marketing plan is a document that describes the marketing activities you will be undertaking for the coming year. However, a more comprehensive plan will include additional information:
- Your business snapshot, which describes your business’ unique realities and goals right now.
- Your corporate objectives and strategy – in other words information about what you want to accomplish in the coming year
- Your marketing resources – that is, the people, facilities, capital, etc. available to you
- Your marketing budget – how much money you will need
- Your marketing goals and measures for success – how you will determine whether your marketing endeavours are successful.
Components of the marketing plan
Component 1: Business snapshot
Imagine that you had a special camera that allowed you to take a virtual picture of your business, revealing to you all that is happening in a specific moment in time. If you took such a picture today, what would it tell you about your businesses’ mission and vision? Its current buyers? The products and services it is offering and the value they provide to their customers? The details of these answers revealed in your business snapshot.
When building a marketing plan, make sure you have access to the details of your business’ most recent snapshot – in other words, it’s important to understand what’s going on in the business right now – so that the marketing activities you propose will work in collaboration with your other business activities and will speak to the needs of your current buyers and customers.
Your mission and vision
According to ClearVoice, A mission statement focuses on today and what an organization does to achieve it”. A vision statement focuses on tomorrow and what an organization wants to ultimately become.
Your mission statement tells the world what the core of your business wants to achieve in the short term. You use it to build your short-term and yearly objectives and goals, and define the activities that you will do to achieve them. When building a mission statement, ask yourself the following questions about the business:
- What are we doing today/this year?
- What types of customers are we serving today/this year?
- How are we serving these customers today/this year?
A company’s mission can change from time to time, as the world, technology and the needs of your customers change.
Your vision statement tells the world what your business wants to achieve in the long term. For many, it’s the reason why the business was created in the first place. It describes how you see your business in the long-term. It’s the impact that you will have overall on the technology, for your customers, and for the world. When building a vision statement, ask the following questions:
- Why did we start this business?
- What do we dream our business to be?
- How will our business make the world a better place?
- What do we want to change?
A company’s vision can change, but this will happen less often, and only as a result of a lot of soul-searching, experience, and reflection.
A mission statement is like a new year’s resolution; a vision statement is like making a life-impacting decision.
In marketing planning, understanding a company’s mission and vision statement can help you create marketing messaging that speaks in your company’s unique voice, and reflects its unique values.
Your SAP offerings and services to be the focus of marketing
List all the SAP solutions and consulting services for which you will be executing marketing campaigns. Depending on the product and more importantly, the needs and expectations of the buyers of these offerings, you might need to consider different marketing strategies.
For example, if you’re communicating the value of S/4HANA to a CEO, you might want to talk about how your offerings can contribute to long-term growth; but if you’re communicating the value of SAP Leonardo to a CTO, you might want to speak about how your offering can establish new, intelligent, and automated processes that are secure and efficient. As a company, you might be the best at providing both SAP solutions, but it’s clear that each offering has unique benefits, and your messaging needs to reflect that.
Your target buyers and their needs
Do you know what your buyers need? Are they the same needs across all the markets you are targeting? Consider this:
- The needs of a CFO are probably different than those of a line manager
- The needs of buyers working in the retail industry are probably different that those of buyers working in hospitals
So first and foremost, think about your buyers – for example, consider:
- Their daily tasks and responsibilities
- Their definitions of success
- Their professional goals
- Their blockers to success
You will start to paint a “picture” of the buyers who would select your offering. This picture or generalized representation is called a persona.
Creating personas helps you to relate to your buyers as real humans, and it helps you understand the specific needs and goals of your buyers. You can learn more about creating persona records here.
Your value proposition(s) – What Business challenges do you solve?
It’s simple – your marketing messaging needs to speak to the needs of your buyers: their goals to achieve; their problems to solve. Your messaging needs to answer the question “How will your offering make your buyers’ lives better?”. And the answer to that question is the essence of your value proposition.
Marketing messaging that is built on a buyer-centric value proposition has a better chance of being noticed by them! You can learn more about creating your value proposition here.
Component 2: Your corporate objectives and strategy
You probably know that “success” means different things to different people – success in business is no different! While it must be profitable in the long run, shorter-term objectives might be less… well, objective! Businesses might also look to increase their overall revenue, sales volume, or market share. They might even wish to focus on introducing and establishing an innovative new technology to their customers, because they see the long-term benefit a few years down the road.
When planning your marketing strategy, it’s a good idea to understand what the company wants to achieve so that you can best contribute to attaining that achievement. For example, if the company’s focus is on selling a new product, then you might consider leveraging more marketing resources for that product. If the company’s focus is on maximizing service and license renewals, you might want to create campaigns and assets targeted toward existing customers.
Component 3: Marketing resources available to leverage
Of course, marketing requires resources – people, equipment, software, perhaps Website or graphic design services. When building your marketing plan, you need to assess what resources are currently available to you, those that you can acquire, and those that are out of reach. This will help you with your planning, since you’ll know from the get-go the types of activities you can or cannot do. For example, you might be interested in creating a video outlining the capabilities of your company – while you don’t have the budget to hire a video production company, you do have an enthusiastic team with rudimentary video-editing experience, and you have budget to purchase video-editing software and a microphone. Given these resources, you might be able to create a professional-quality narrated animation that delivers the same message.
Similarly understand the capabilities, experience, and current workloads of your staff. Ensure that they will be able to complete the activities that you plan in a way that is acceptable to them and to the company and of course, to the end product. If hiring new expertise is a possibility or probability, take this into consideration when making your marketing decisions.
Component 4: Budget
Careful budgeting is so important when it comes to marketing planning. Not only do you need to plan for acquiring resources, but there are a lot of additional costs that can add up. Examples include:
- Web hosting
- Licensing of stock artwork, and music
- Tradeshow exhibitor fees
When it comes to calculating how much budget you need to earmark for marketing activities, consider using a percentage of forecast revenue for the year, usually between 2 and 5%. For example, if you are forecasting a revenue of 3 million dollars, then a 2% marketing budget would be $60,000.
And don’t forget about MDF! If you have MDF to use or are expecting to accrue MDF, include these amounts when calculating your marketing budget. Just remember that different marketing activities are reimbursable at different amounts and that a given activity needs to be approved for MDF reimbursement.
Component 5: Marketing activities
Now that you’ve assessed the current snapshot of your business, understood your corporate objectives, assessed the availability, strengths and weaknesses of your resources, and established your budget, you are ready to think about the marketing activities that will best serve the mission of your business.
When coming up with activities, ensure that you can answer the following questions:
- What activity will I do?
- When will I do it?
- How long will it take?
- What is the rationale (answer this from the standpoint of your buyers needs and habits)?
- What resources do I need?
- How much will I spend?
- What are my expected results (marketing objectives)?
The SMART activity
Any marketing activity that you propose should meet the SMART criteria – more specifically, it should be
- Specific – it should precisely describe what you want to achieve
- Measurable – you should be able to measure the success of the campaign based on pre-defined success measures.
- Achievable – the activity should be something that can be completed based on available and obtainable resources
- Relevant – the activity should be relevant to your marketing and corporate objectives. It should reach individuals who could potentially be your buyers, and should be present in those places (physical or virtual) where these individuals might go. For example, if you are offering SAP services to a specific industry, it probably makes sense to have a booth at one of their trade-shows; it might make less sense to be handing out flyers at a rock concert, even though both activities might be specific, measurable and achievable.
- Timely – ensure that you define a deadline for your activity. Of course, they need to be realistic and flexible, but having a deadline sitting in the back of your mind can sometimes help you and your team to take the task more seriously, to jump into action and to include it when setting priorities among the other tasks that need to be completed.
Ensure your activities cover each step of the buyer and customer journey
When it comes to making important purchases, most people don’t just make the decision to buy – rather their thought process goes through a progression, which we refer to as the buyer’s journey.
Once they have selected your offering, their experience with it also goes through a progression, which we refer to as the customer journey.
In Marketing, understanding the buyer and customer journey is important because how we approach buyers and customers is very different in in each stage.
When planning and proposing your marketing activities, ensure that you consider content for each of these steps so that you are communicating effectively, appropriately, targeted and efficiently, regardless of where a buyer or customer is in their journey.
Component 6: Measures for success
How will you know if your marketing endeavors contribute to your corporate objectives? When planning your marketing activities, it’s important that you also define “success targets” for each of your activities, and you need to be able to objectively determine if you’ve attained this target.
For each marketing activity approved and executed, provide the following information:
- Marketing activity summary/description
- Success metric
- Sales or marketing metric?
- Results from previous year
- Expected results from current year
- Actual results from current year
For example, you want to be able to how many people are consuming your marketing assets and you want to be able to determine which of your customers might have been inspired to select your business because of these assets.
You can consider things like:
- Visits to a campaign-specific Web page
- Conversion rate
- Clicks of e-mail content
- Views of online content
- Requests for more information
- Likes, shares or comments on a blog that you publish
So, for all the marketing activities that you propose, ensure that you have identified how you will determine whether or not they contribute to the attainment of your business objectives.
Keep in mind that for a single marketing activity, you might define multiple success metrics. In addition, a single success metric might be attained through the contribution of multiple marketing activities.
Share and review your marketing plan
Once you have completed your marketing plan, share it with your key executives and team members, as well as with your SAP Partner manager, so that everyone understands and agrees with your proposed methods and rationale.
Make this year the best one ever!
The clock of 21st-century business never stops, and now’s the time to plan your future activity and business opportunities!
A properly-developed marketing plan will allow you to identify marketing opportunities that best correspond to your company’s business objectives, your customers’ needs and expectations, your available resources, and your budget – it enables you to select the best tactics to reach your market, communicate your value proposition, and stand out from the competition.
It also creates an opportunity to communicate and align your strategy with the executives and key players on your team, via a formal, professional document, and helps justify requests for time, budget and resources. It’s a great reference for team members and helps you align and prioritize your work to focus on the objectives that matter for your company!
Make this year the best one ever! And get started along the right path by creating a great marketing plan!
This is the next post of my blog series Communicate Your Awesomeness. Feel free to contact me directly if you’d like to have more discussions related to marketing!
Want even more? You can now sign up for a number of free and paid marketing services delivered by SAP and its trusted providers. Check out the SAP Partner Benefits Catalog or contact your PSA for more information!