A good idea for putting the right message in front of the right people at the right time will get you a meeting. A great plan for turning that idea into action will get you the budget you need to make it happen. But putting that great plan together and executing it is no simple task.
Just choosing digital strategies to use can be head-spinning. The American Marketing Association (AMA) lists 10 types of marketing: influencer, relationship, viral, green, keyword, guerilla, outbound, inbound and search engine optimization (SEO).
Content marketing is a key modern strategy, according to the AMA. A value-add approach invites targeted customers and prospects into the brand to develop relationships rather than pushing the brand to create transactions.
Association of National Advertisers (ANA) surveys of client-side marketing executives found three-quarters of respondents have fully adopted or are in the process of adding content strategies to their marketing mix because it deepens audiences’ emotional connection with the brand by entertaining and educating.
The ANA notes that content marketing generates leads, improves brand loyalty and establishes thought leadership: “Ultimately, content marketing is intended to generate profitability and improve lifetime customer value.
However, tactics are just one element of a marketing plan. Marketing has many moving parts, and the plan is the blueprint for how they will work together to connect with customers and generate sales. A business degree in marketing can equip professionals to build strong marketing plans in any field.
What Are the Five Elements of an Effective Marketing Plan?
A marketing plan describes market conditions, target audience, brand positioning, channels to effectively deliver messaging and key performance indicators (KPIs). The following are the overall five elements of an effective marketing plan, according to The Analyst Agency:
- Understanding market conditions: Market research is a data-driven activity that may include focus groups, interviews and surveys to develop first-hand marketing intelligence or analyze relevant in-house information from previous campaigns and external sources, such as reports and databases.
- Segmenting the audience: Demographics such as age, sex, household income and psychographics shape customers’ beliefs, desires and motivations and help marketing professionals identify the prime customer and develop messaging that resonates with them.
- Positioning the brand: This describes how your product meets your customers’ needs. Product is the first of the “four Ps” of marketing. The others are price (what value does it deliver), place (where are customers looking for it) and promotion (what is its unique selling point).
- Defining your strategy: Using market research and audience segmentation, professionals must define how to most effectively engage their audience rationally and emotionally and get consumers to think, “I trust this brand and the price is right.”
- Measuring the results: Deciding what KPIs are most important — such as email open rates, click-through rates, downloads, likes and retweets — provides opportunities for optimization.
“A marketing plan that outlines the goals and strategies … is essential to drive the success of the business,” according to the Analyst Agency. “When you include these elements of a marketing plan, you have a solid foundation to understand the marketplace and position your business to win more business.”
What’s the Best Way to Prepare for a Marketing Career?
Success in marketing, media planning and advertising depends on a mix of hard skills — such as expertise in market research, industry knowledge and analytics — and soft skills, including strategic and critical thinking.
A bachelor of business administration in marketing degree is ideal for acquiring those skills. For instance, the degree program offered by Lamar University includes studies in:
- Strategic analysis: Explore how constantly changing market conditions and regulatory compliance impact strategic marketing management in a digital global environment.
- E-Marketing: Examine strategies and tactics to harness the marketing potential of the Internet.
- Entrepreneurial market opportunities: Focus on recognizing opportunities in the market and analyzing trends and growth opportunities that support new business creation.
Accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the Lamar University program equips graduates with the full range of skills and expertise in areas such as market research and analysis, digital marketing, consumer behavior, pricing theory, import/export.