How to Create a Marketing Plan From Start To Finish in 2018


People who succeed with PPC do two things very well:

First, they do the proper research to fully understand their target market and draft a PPC marketing plan outline.

Second, their marketing strategy uses this data to identify opportunities that competitors simply left out of their marketing plan.

But you’re probably wondering:

“How do I properly research my PPC marketing strategy?”

To answer this we first need to understand…..

…..which audience is the right audience.

In this post I give you an example of how I do market analysis.

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Do This Wrong and Your Marketing Plan Will Fail

Here’s the deal:

For any business to succeed, it first needs customers.

The struggle most companies don’t get past, is getting their first few customers.

Unfortunately, this is because they go too broadly with who they’re trying to target.

Targeting too broadly at the start will likely end in failure.

Peter Theil’s book Zero to One, explains how PayPal had pivoted several times to find their first target audience.

If PayPal went too broadly, their target audience would have been any online shopper.

They Would Have Failed!

In 1999, very few people realized they needed a new form of payments online, so what did PayPal do?

They targeted a somewhat tiny but very lucrative niche: eBay sellers.

It gets better:

Not just any eBay sellers, eBay “PowerSellers”.

At the time there were about 20,000 “PowerSellers”, but they really needed an easier way to perform payments.

This is a true marketing plan template anyone should follow.

peter-thielCompetition is overrated.

In practice it is quite destructive and should be avoided wherever possible.

Better than fighting for scraps in existing markets is to creating and owning new ones.

 **-Peter Theil | Co-Founder of PayPal**

 So instead of figuring out how to attack a very scattered and difficult market, they focused on a much smaller more focused subset.

 Now:

Don’t worry about limiting yourself in the beginning. Once you prove your concept and start generating sales and revenue, you can then go more broadly.

Identify Problems for Marketing Success

The first step to defining your target market is to understand the problems you’re able to solve.

You can do this by looking back at what goals you’ve set for yourself and by analyzing the products or services you offer.

Once you have a good idea of what problems your product or service can help solve, you can start to work out who suffers from these problems the most.

If your product or service doesn’t solve a very apparent need, then you don’t have a business; you have an idea.

 Elite Marketers Do This One Thing…

Now that you know what problems you can help solve, it’s time to start building prospective buyer personas of your target market.

What Are Prospective Buyer Personas?

Prospective buyer personas are very much like buyer personas. However, assuming we don’t have any current buyers, we must build what I call “prospective buyer personas.” These personas will allow you to strategically target specific groups of people to test whether or not they turn into buyers.

Who is most likely to be facing problems that your product or service solves?

Write down as many details as you can about them.

This data is crucial for your marketing strategy.

Only answer the questions that directly impact your marketing plan.

Demographic Information:

  • Age:
    The age of a prospective buyer persona is usually the simplest part of the entire profile, but it also provides a lot of details. What you prioritize in life and your values usually have a lot to do with your age.
  • Gender:
    Not all prospective buyer personas require gender. If your product or service is valuable to both genders, skip this step. However, think about who is more likely to make a purchase, as this may save you a lot of marketing budget down the road.
  • Relationship Status:
    Is your target buyer single, in a relationship, or married?
  • Profession:
    This usually only applies to B2B, but it can also be very helpful in B2C.
  • Education:
    How educated is your potential buyer? Knowing this will help you perfect your marketing message later on.
  • Financial Situation:
    Annual income is important. However, focus more on what they spend their money on and how they pay. This will help decide which payment options are most important to your funnel.

Psychographic Information:

  • Values:
    What does your prospective buyer consider important or beneficial? Understanding their values will allow you to portray what is most important to them at the beginning of your marketing message.
  • Buying Decision:
    Not understanding this can lead to some serious problems down the road. What does your prospective buyer look for in a product or service before making a purchase? Features, price, customer service, etc.
  • Shopping Habits:
    What else do they spend their money on? Knowing their shopping habits can help you piggyback on similar marketing campaigns.
  • Free Time:
    Not only how but where do they spend their free time? Knowing this will help you identify which TV shows, websites, and apps to advertise on.

The more you answer now, the easier it will be to market to them later. At this point, however, we have no real data on whether or not they’re going to actually convert. Be prepared to go through several personas. Once you start to find a winning group, you can use data you collect to tweak your persona cards to improve your ROI.

Hubspot made an awesome tool that will help this process along called MakeMyPersona. The site is worth its weight in gold:

Facebook!

Simply go through the process as if you were setting up a paid campaign on Facebook.

You can then use the Audience Definition tool to help judge your potential reach for these audiences.

Now keep note, this isn’t 100% accurate, but it’s one of the best tools for the job.

For this example, let’s say for simplicity, we’re selling a new and improved standing desk.

An example Prospective Buyer Persona would be:- Age: 30 – 65+

  • Job Role: Small Office or Business
  • Income: $125,000+/yr
  • Behaviors: Commuter
  • Shopping Habits: Health & Wellness buyer. Early adopter of gadgets and technology
  • Potential Problems: Back pain from sitting. Lack of energy. Poor posture 

buyerpersona

Other social media networks such as Linkedin & Twitter can help you make more educated buyer personas.

linkedin

Knowing these details will allow us to really tailor our funnel to this audience. Obviously you can get as crazy as you want with the targeting here, but just think logically: Who would be most likely to need your product? The more you learn from your audience, and eventually buyers, the more you can tweak your persona. The better your personas, the stronger you can make your marketing messaging and the more success your campaign will have.

Now remember these personas are most useful when targeting social media.

Many sources don’t have the demographic targeting required to make use of it.

Amazon’s Secret Competitive Research

Once you have identified which audiences to target from your prospective buyer personas, it’s important to find out where they currently spend their money.

This allows you to find opportunities your direct competitors have overlooked.

To do this, I use Amazon.com. By searching on Amazon for “standing desk,” we accomplish two things. First, we see a nice list of competitors, but we also get a nice list of other related products!

standup-desk-related

Scrolling through just these related products, I came up with more than enough items to get started.

Directly Related Items:

  • Computer desk
  • Office furniture
  • Treadmill desk
  • Traveler folding stand up desk
  • Anti fatigue mat
  • Office chair

As you can see, someone who is searching for anti-fatigue mats would be likely to purchase, or has purchased, a standing desk.

There are also opportunities that can be found from products and services that may not directly correlate with what you have to offer.

Want to know the best part?

By using one of the key selling points that our product helps solve (better posture, reduced back and neck pain), we can come up with a list of items that also have similar benefits.

Indirectly Related Items:

  • Adjustable laptop tray
  • Monitor arms
  • Keyboard stand
  • Exercise ball
  • Back brace
  • Heating pad

Now, some of these items may be a stretch.

For example, just because someone purchased a heating pad, doesn’t mean they also need a standing desk.

Nonetheless, because one of the benefits of our standing desk is a potential reduction in back pain, we may find some hidden gems.

 Blow Your Competitors Out of The Water

Now, we already used Facebook & LinkedIn ads as a way to build out our prospective buyer persona.

To take it a step further, we’ll use a great tool to research social media paid campaigns: Buzzsumo.

Buzzsumo allows us to search for keywords (in this case “Standing Desk”), and it will return articles that have been shared on social media.

By doing this we can identify both new prospective buyer personas and angles for our landing pages.

As you can see, 3 out of 4 articles that have the most shares are titled “killing you” or “being bad” for you.

If we used this information and created a new lead magnet “Is sitting really killing you & how to stop it,” we could probably do very well on social media and attract some serious organic shares in the process.

sharedcontent

 ### Skyrocket Your ROI 

Now we have some data about our potential prospective buyers.

We need to find and identify each step of the purchase funnel. But where do we find them?

What Is a Purchase Funnel?

A purchase funnel is the theoretical customer’s journey towards the purchase of a product or service.

purchase-funnel

We influence this funnel with AIDA

  • A – Attention: Do I have your attention? – We will capture their attention with ad copy.
  • I – Interest: Are You Interested? -Keep their interest by providing value on landing pages
  • D – Desire:  Do you want it? -Make them want it with the use of a lead magnet
  • A – Action: Take action – By the use of lead nurturing

What Is a Lead Magnet?

A lead magnet is something you give away in exchange for some type of information. It incentivizes the visitor to input their information, such as name, email and phone number. It allows you to give them something of value in return.

If you’re looking for some examples of lead magnet ideas, check out Digital Marketers’ awesome post.

By using our early adopter personas, we can present some useful information that we know would help solve some of their problems.

But here’s the kicker:

In exchange, we’ll ask for their contact information, to keep in touch with them and to have a better chance to influence them to buy our product.

From our example, a few lead magnet ideas are:- 30-Day Case Study on Running a Business with a Standing Desk

  • Techniques to Reduce Back Pain While Commuting
  • 9 Ways to Feel More Energetic At Work

Notice how all of these lead magnets would benefit our prospective buyers that we identified earlier?

What Is Lead Nurturing?

Once we capture the contact information of our prospective buyers, we can anticipate their needs based on where they are in the buying process. Keeping prospects engaged with us by providing them useful information will build brand loyalty, long before they’re ready to buy.

 The truth is, we live in an information society, and we hate to be sold. We research everything before making a purchase because it makes us feel better about our decision. Very few companies do this right. However, if you can pull it off, you will be years ahead of your competitors.

I’ll be writing an entire guide to creating the perfect landing page. Once it’s complete, I’ll link to it!

Until then, here are some helpful resources to help build your landing page for lead capture.

Resources

Save Money With This Marketing Plan Tip

paidsearch

Search Traffic

Search traffic is a bit different then social media. Here’s why:

Your traffic is driven from keywords, and it is not easy to identify who is behind the keyword.

Instead, we have to understand what the visitor is searching for and best serve our marketing message to them, while providing value.

Using Google Keyword planner, we can identify which keywords the target audience may be searching. The first logical keyword to try is “Standing Desk.”

Regardless, as you can see below, there is not much volume at all! We would maybe get 10-20 visitors a day, if we were lucky.

marketing-plan-keyword

The issue with “Standing Desk” as a keyword is the fact it’s so broad.

We don’t know the intent of the user.

Are they simply searching for what a standing desk is? Perhaps they are still in the research phase and not ready to buy. Are they ready to make a purchase right then and there?

Obviously, the latter would convert the highest for us, but how can we identify them?

One option is to put the word “buy” in our ad copy, but that may result in a lower CTR and up our CPC costs.

marketing-plan-buy-keyword

By adding the word “buy” in front of standing desk, we get a pretty good idea of how many visitors a month are ready to buy right then and there.

Now as you can see, bidding on this keyword makes sense. We know they’re looking to buying our product and it’s a perfect match.

However, with the amount of volume it has, even with a 1% CTR, we would only get 1-2 visitors a day… Not enough volume to make a viable business!

Not all hope is lost. The good news is, we still know there is a high interest in standing desks!

Look:

If the 60,500 searches a month wasn’t proof enough, check Google Trends.

We’ll learn how to turn this interest into leads and eventually sales here in a bit.

marketingplan-trends

Now obviously, there are a lot more keyword variations we can target in our campaign, and Google’s Keyword Planner has a few good suggestions:

keyword-planner-research

But to be honest:

None of these keywords are that great.  They’re all very generic, and we still don’t know exactly what part of the product funnel they’re on.

Also, everyone who runs these PPC campaigns uses this tool. That means you’ll be targeting the same exact keywords as everyone else…

A better option is to take a look at Google’s search results for the term “Standing Desk” and reverse engineer their campaigns so we can do it better.

marketing-plan-searchads

As you can see above, our direct competitors are very generic in their ad copy. Nonetheless, they’ve got to be running more keywords in their campaigns.

Other Useful Keyword Tools

  • Merge WordsThis is an awesome tool I use to come up with my own keywords that others may not have thought of.
  • Found Ultimate Keyword Tool: Very similar to merge words, with a few extra useful options.

SEMRush

Using one of my favorite tools for competitive research SEMRush, we can take our competitors URL and see which other keywords they’re bidding on to find opportunities Google Keyword Planner missed.

Market-Planning-Keyword-SEMRush

Now as you can see, I highlighted “Benefits of standing desk.”

We know the intent of the user is to learn more about how standing desks can help them, and it also has quite a bit of traffic!

Wow really?

The downside: SEMRush is claiming that keyword costs $10 CPC!

Let’s take a look at the SERPs to see what kind of ads and landing pages we’ll be going up against.

benefits-of-standing-desk

Wait WHAT!? 

Remember AIDA – the first step is getting the visitors attention and all of our competitors failed!

As you can see, not a single ad actually presents the visitor with any benefits.

Even worse, all of their landing pages just lead to the product buy page.

Not a single competitor is presenting the actual benefits of the desk.

I see opportunity.

Example of What Our Ad Should Look Like

SkillHD-Marketing-Plan

If you were searching the “benefits of a standing desk,” which ad would you be more inclined to click on?

I bet it would be mine…

…because it gives you exactly what you’re looking for!

But what about after they click?

Now obviously, because the visitor is only looking for the benefits, we don’t want to send them to a product page.

Instead, we can capture their name, email and phone number with a lead magnet, remember?

This would allow us to keep sending valuable information, both informing them and influencing their decision to make a purchase.

display-advertising

Display or “Banner” Traffic

When you purchase display traffic, you are able to bid on websites and applications for both mobile and desktop.

Most display traffic products have very few demographics targeting.

However, you are able to target specific websites and applications on most RTB networks.

Finally, the great thing about display is once you find a specific winner, you can in most cases do a direct buy to further increase your ROI.

One thing not many people realize is, the large majority of display traffic all comes from Google’s Double Click.

The best part:

Google AdWords has demographic targeting!

Because of this Google AdWords Display Planner is the perfect tool to use when doing research.

First, we’ll use keyword targeting.

googledisplay-planner

The great news is, Google claims there is a ton of inventory available.

We also can see that close to 70% of the traffic is mobile.

That is a start, but let’s dig deeper.

display-planner2

From the interests tab, we can take this information and create more buyer personas.

But

It’s still not too helpful.

Here’s where things get really exciting.

display-planner3

Based on just our keyword “standing desks,” Google Display Planner has identified 89 websites and 15 apps.

It gets better

Let’s dig down deeper into one of the sites.

display-planner4

As you can see, Google is even generous enough to give us the demographics of this site.

We can also see that the site receives 100-150k impressions a month, with roughly 10-15k unique visitors.

This particular site has 61% desktop traffic, which is great.

Why?

Well, using common sense, we know they have a computer.

Chances are they have a desk!

We can even bring it a step further and look at the sites ad placements so we can tailor our ads.

site-baner

 As you can see, the ads they have on their site are right above the footer.

99% of your competition won’t do this

Now that we know exactly what the intent is of the user and where the ad is placed, we can tailor our marketing message all through our funnel.

Ninja Marketing That Works

Now we know the demographics and which publishers are already interested in our product.

Let’s take a look:

At what our competitors are running in display currently.

To do this we’ll use one of my favorite ad spy tools.

Whatrunswhere

whatrunswhere

Are you seeing what I’m seeing?

They only have ads that focus on customers at the end of the purchase funnel.

purchase-funnel-bottom

Sure, these ads are most likely working for them, but they’re leaving so much opportunity on the table (pun intended).

They’re not the only ones either!

Take a look at other competitors in the space.

  comp-ad

To much text and boring

compeitor-ad

I don’t always buy a desk but when I do, I buy 5….

How To Reach The Top of The Funnel

So we know that all of our competitors are going after buyers, and probably spending a fortune in ad dollars doing it.

Lets be different:

What if we targeted customers who weren’t even aware sitting is bad?

purchase-funnel-top

Capturing people at the top of the funnel would make it much easier to capture leads.

The best part:

We would own the entire purchase process as we nurture our leads.

Inform them of the harm of sitting all day, and inform them of possible solutions.

What do you think is harder?

Getting someone to buy a $600+ product

or…..

Getting them to enter their email for more information on something that could harm their health.

Yeah I thought so.

Why don’t we revisit one of the top shared topics on social media?

Is Sitting Bad for You:

Now obviously, we may not have as many instant buyers with this strategy.

But we sure as hell will be unique and shareable.

Here is an ad I whipped up

sitting

Be honest. Which ad would more likely get clicked on?

I would bet a chicken it’d be my ad.

Now you may be asking:

“Why would someone that clicks this ad buy a standing desk?”

The simple answer is….

…they wouldn’t; not most of them, anyways.

But Brent:

“Our goal is to sell desks!”

We will sell desks!

Lots of them, but it will take a little bit of work.

By getting people to click on our ad, we captured the first part of AIDA: Attention.

Now our job is to capture their interest.

Below is a lander I whipped up for this example.

lander

 Do I have your interest?

Now obviously this lander can be improved.

But…

It literally took me 5 minutes to come up with the entire angle and to make the creatives.

Give me a break:

Now the best part about this lander is, we’ll likely capture a hell of a lot of leads.

More importantly:

We’ll get a crap ton of social shares, which means……

….. You guessed it: FREE TRAFFIC!

What to Do with the Leads

The first step is keeping in contact with them through email.

Give them information on how sitting may be killing them.

Don’t:

Try to sell them a standup desk right away.

Build a relationship with the prospect and gain their trust.

Use your site to your advantage by sending emails out about relevant blog posts.

Remember, people don’t like to be sold!

So don’t sell them:

Provide value, and they will return the favor by recommending your content and brand.

If they are ever ready to buy a standing desk, guess who they would go with?

You best believe it will most likely be you!

Finally, even if they don’t buy a standing desk, you can offer them other products and services that would benefit them.

I know we’ve covered A LOT of information.

Don’t be afraid to be creative.

If your company is boring, you’ll get boring results.

Do the research, create the funnel and test the results.

Please leave in the comments any questions or comments you may have.

I will be using all the feedback I get to improve the post, as I will keep it continuously updated.

If you found this post useful, please share it with anyone you see fit!

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