How to Create a Best-in-Class Marketing Communications Plan

April 11, 2018

By Kerry Breen

ANA

 

A marketing plan can make all the difference between building long-lasting relationships with your audience and losing their interest completely. A good marketing plan helps to focus marketing efforts and create a consistent brand. Ideally, it is guided by the corporate marketing strategy and supports individual product marketing plans while helping the brand achieve its awareness and promotion goals.

To help you create a plan that produces results, here are six steps to follow, adapted from the ANA's Marketing Communications Planning Playbook.

  1. Conduct an environmental assessment. This will help you understand where your brand has been, its current position in the marketplace, opportunities for growth, and how to get there. Consider your external environment and assess how factors like competition, brand awareness, and the political and economic landscape can influence your marketing communications plan.
  2. Develop personas. Personas, or hypothetical profiles for each of your audiences, will help you focus communications on the needs of each one. They will also enable you to create messages for a specific person rather than nebulous groups.
  3. Determine your plan's objectives. Your marketing communication plan could aim to educate and inform consumers, change perceptions about your brand, enhance your brand status, create leads, generate media coverage, or recruit talent. Define the objectives for your plan based on what you know about your audience.
  4. Test your messages. Crafting the right message is key to eliciting a positive response from your consumers. Before committing to the messages you've crafted as the foundation for your marketing communications, make sure they resonate with your audience. Consider conducting qualitative research with a focus group to test the effectiveness of your key messages.
  5. Select the right channels for your brand or product. From social media to mobile, not all channels work for all brands. The right mix rarely includes all possible channels, but usually includes more than one. A Marketing Channel Ranking Tool can help you determine what works best by evaluating current and planned communication channels.
  6. Create a marketing communications calendar. Regardless of what channels you choose, staying on top of your plan is essential. Create a master calendar to keep track of all channel activity and campaigns.

By following these steps, you're well on your way to creating a marketing communications plan that shares your key messages and resonates with your target audience.

 

For more tips and tools, ANA members can check out the recently redesigned ANA Playbooks, or step-by-step guides with customizable tools to help marketers meet their goals.

 

Kerry Breen is the senior manager of content creation at the Association of National Advertisers.


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