Guest post by Ronita Mohan.
A marketing communication plan is an essential document for bringing in new clients and to communicate strategy to your in-house marketing team.
But what’s the ideal process for creating this document? And what are the best practices for developing a plan that accurately conveys your goals to prospects?
Here’s an eight-step guide for creating a marketing communication plan that will align your internal agency marketing team and help you attract more clients.
1. Audit Your Current Marketing Communication Plan
Conducting a regular audit of your marketing communication plan has always been an excellent idea. However, considering how the world has changed in 2020, an audit is now essential.
Your clients’ needs will have changed this year (several times)—your communication plan should reflect that.
Examine your current plan outlines before sending proposals to clients.
For example, if you’re pitching to a restaurant’s marketing team, check whether you have mentioned mask guidelines, indoor / outdoor guest seating, and social distancing practices.
Are you including curbside pickup and delivery services in your communication proposals?
An audit can also help you find market gaps that your prospective clients could explore with you.
Here are some methods to conduct an audit:
- Create a survey to ask existing clients for feedback on your plans;
- Host focus groups with potential clients; and
- Examine competitors’ communication plans (if available).
An audit can be a long process, but it will be worth it if you can build a marketing communication plan that will earn you business clients.
2. Identify Your Marketing Communication Plan Objectives
Your audit will help you determine goals for your marketing communication plan.
This is an important step since it will help you understand whether or not your client pitch will be a success.
There are two kinds of objectives to include in your plan:
- Your business objectives
- Your client’s goals
Clients will want to know what direction your company is headed before they agree to partner with you.
Design a summary page that shares details about your company along with your short- and long-term goals.
Include a few testimonials from existing clients—it’s great social proof to showcase what your company brings to the table.
You also need to outline the goals you expect to achieve for your client, like in this example executive summary and goals page.
The goals outlined here are clear and concise. The inclusion of percentages ensures that clients have distinct metrics to which they can hold the company.
When choosing goals for your client, use the SMART goal-setting method: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.
Your goals should be specific and measurable, as in this example; achievable by your marketing team; relevant to your client; and able to be achieved within a set time-frame.
3. Present Your USP in the Marketing Communication Plan
Your brand’s unique selling proposition (USP) should be included in all marketing communications, including the plans you present to prospective clients.
The USP is what makes your brand stand apart from competitors—and will (hopefully) encourage your prospects to partner with you.
It’s well worth conducting a SWOT analysis to help you develop your USP—it’s a good way to determine why clients will be attracted to your business.
A SWOT analysis is also a great tool for discovering where your business is falling short, and how those areas can be improved before pitching a prospect.
Look at this SWOT template below. It’s clear, precise, and easy to adapt to communicate your internal strategy to team members.
Understanding your USP will make your pitch more effective, helping you build more long-term client relationships.
4. Tailor Your Marketing Communication Plan to Target Clients
Your ultimate target is your client’s company, but for your marketing communication plan to be impactful, you need to define key members of the buying team.
Remember: the key decisions about partnering with your company will lie with specific people within the prospective organization.
Define the client personas you will be targeting—the marketing manager, HR team, and sales executives.
If your pitch is too broad, you won’t appeal to your target audience within the organization—and ultimately, your pitch will fail.
For inspiration, take a look at this example of a B2B audience persona.
Creating a profile helps you design a pitch that will appeal to the right team members in your client’s organization.
5. Include Platforms in Your Marketing Communication Plan
You don’t want to spend too much time creating a content calendar for your marketing communication plan, but it’s worth including content platforms.
Clients want to see your vision for the partnership—adding channels you will be using to grow their business shows how committed you are to the relationship.
Research the kind of company you are pitching to—this will help you decide the channels that will work best for their messaging.
Among the channels you will likely include in your plan are:
- Company blog: No matter what kind of business you are pitching, a blog is a great way for them to build brand awareness and engage with influencers.
- Email campaigns: Email continues to be a powerful and cost-effective tool to reach audiences, so outline your ideas for using email marketing to grow your client’s business.
- Mobile marketing: A mobile marketing strategy may not work for all companies, but it’s worth adding if your prospect is in the right field.
- Social media: Every business needs to be on social media, but you need to outline which channels and social tools work best for your client.
- Podcasts: Podcasting is becoming a key method for reaching new markets, so think about including it as a possible channel for your clients to explore.
- Press relations: You need to examine whether your client’s products or services will suit traditional or digital PR formats.
There are numerous channels but you should know which ones are most suitable for your prospects before including them in your plan.
6. Marketing Communication Plan Design Essentials
There are several design elements your marketing communication plan should incorporate.
Most importantly, the plan should reflect your company’s branding and your client’s branding in the design of your marketing communication plan.
Why? For two reasons. First, by including their branding, you create a relationship with the client from the outset.
Second, adding your branding is necessary because your clients are external parties that are being pitched by multiple companies.
A generic plan will get lost in the noise. So, make it stand out by incorporating branding elements such as your logo, brand colors, and brand fonts.
You also need to be cognizant of current graphic design trends. Muted colors, flat icons and illustrations, and geometric shapes are all in vogue right now, as you can see from this example.
If you use bold or neon colors or three-dimensional shapes, clients may be led to believe that your team isn’t aware of changing market trends.
This is not the impression you want to leave them with. Brush up on marketing and web design trends before presenting your plan to clients.
7. Include Timelines in the Marketing Communication Plan
There are a few deadlines you can include in your marketing communication plan.
Again, you don’t have to create an entire content calendar, but be cognizant of upcoming events that are relevant to your client.
Holiday marketing is huge, so if there are events in the offing, you should include them in your plan with suggestions for how your client can market themselves around those themes.
Other important events include the start and end of quarters, industry conferences, and major industry announcements that can impact your client.
Use a timeline maker to create clear and attractive timelines for your plan—this will help your team align with your client’s needs.
8. Analyze Feedback on Your Marketing Communication Plan
You set goals for your plan and your pitch, but were they successful?
To determine this, you need to ask for feedback from your prospects and your marketing team about the pitching process.
Among the key analysis questions to ask are:
- Did your plan effectively communicate your goals to your client?
- Did your business pitch deck share your vision for the partnership?
- Were your metrics well-chosen, or were they too broad/ narrow?
- Did you reach the metrics you had aimed for?
You need to examine your client pitch and process so you know where you require improvement—and which areas are winning over your clients.
Conclusion: Create a Marketing Communication Plan that Speaks to Clients
A marketing communication plan is a great way to share with your clients your vision for their brand, and your relationship with them.
To recap, here are the steps you need to take to create a successful plan:
- Audit your current plan
- Identify your plan objectives
- Highlight your USP
- Tailor your plan to the target audience
- Add channels to your plan
- Design your plan
- Add timelines
- Analyze your plan
Following this process will make creating a communication plan easier and earn you long-term clients.
Ronita Mohan is a content marketer at Venngage, the online infographic maker and design platform. Ronita regularly writes about digital marketing, visual design, and small business growth.