September 25, 2021

Do these 5 things before your next marketing plan

Be it your assignment in your job application or a client pitch for your agency, if there is one thing people ask for is a Digital Marketing Plan.

I am not going to bother you with free templates to design your plan, instead what I am going to focus on is the way to think while designing a holistic Digital Marketing plan.

Business Model

Marketers who fail to understand the business side of the product are more likely to skip the foundations of any winning digital marketing plan.

The first thing is to study the business model of the company. If it’s a C2C, B2B, B2C model.

This will help you understand the channels you would be using and set the brand tone and personality (this could be very helpful for brands who are planning to go digital). In most cases, a B2C business will enjoy a greater creative and experimentative freedom as compared to B2B businesses. This will also make you get an idea on the sales cycle length and plan the next steps of the strategy.

Revenue Model

The next thing is to understand the industry and the pricing and revenue models including the margins, the average order value, the frequency of the goods sold and the way the users are charged (subscription, EMI, one time pay). If you are working with startups which are still figuring out the product-market fit, feel free to make changes to the pricing models and test it. In most cases, there are better pricing strategies available to optimise the profit. From transitioning to a newer model or change in prices to introducing a new plan to anchor the price.

Key metrics

If you have a ballpark figure of the net revenue, you can start by drawing a line in the sand for a key metric which is the Cost of Transaction. Typically if you are not betting on a high LTV (LifeTime Value), you would want to keep the margins in check. This type of business is operating on healthy unit economics as they are earning profit whenever they are selling anything. However, you could also argue in favour of spending some more money initially to attract future profits by generating stickiness to your product.

Disclaimer: Discounting is a strategy should be sparingly used

This is a typical strategy for onboarding consumers on apps like GooglePay where you would get a certain discount on your first few transactions. Well if you are pitching it to a big brand with a healthy bank balance, you could dwell on that strategy but in my experience, if you give out discounts initially, those discounts become the sole reason for the stickiness and once you are out of discounts to offer, people generally don’t stick around. So if you can outlast your competitors in discounting, you could become the users’ ultimate choice.

Product changes required to make it more sticky.

What the majority of marketers don’t understand is the value that they could harness from making changes to the product. Before you start drafting the marketing plan, think about the fundamental changes that might be required on the product side to make the proposition funnel convert more people. If you need help creating your marketing funnel, refer to

SWOT Analysis

Once you understand the business well, you can start drafting the SWOT analysis. This will help you create your marketing copy and also understand the things you can double down on.

What we’re good at. What’s working. What our customers like about us.

What we want to fix. What we want to strengthen. What we want to become more efficient at.

What the industry might soon want.What we think we’ll be good at. What will be our difference-maker?

What we think could hinder our growth. What/who we think could take our customers.

[Enter strengths here]

[Enter weaknesses here]

[Enter opportunities here]

[Enter threats here]

Now you have a good enough understanding of the business and the domain it is operating in. The next step is to ideate some changes in the product or the offering to make the proposition more compelling.

The following a popular framework called the Pirate Metrics which will help you organise your thoughts on the product level changes you could leverage

  1. Acquisition: This is how you acquire new users to visit your website or download your app. This could be through ads, SEO, social media etc.
  2. Activate: Once you have acquired your users, the next step is to activate them. This step is to get the foot in the door. This could be a form on your website to some free e-book or some free tool you have created to activate users or some level in your game app. This could also be a subscription to a free course or some item on your e-commerce store that’s a steal deal. This is to remove the initial hesitation in the minds of the consumer. Note that the word “activation” is an internally defined metric.
  3. Retention: The goal for any product should be to retain your users. They should come back to your app again and again. This step focuses on reducing churn by gamifying the product. In some businesses, the retention ratio will be very low by the very model of the business while in others you could use some retention tactic to increase retention. Eg: the cashback was a retention tactic used by PayTm
  4. Referral: Now this is where growth lies. If you incentivize customers to share your app with others, you can pull off a marketing tactic that can drastically reduce your CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost). This could additionally offer some more benefit eg; extension of the free trial if users share the product with their friends. This step can be utilised well when used at the AHA! Moment of the product, i.e. the point in the user journey when the user satisfaction is the highest and then the user is most likely to share your product.
  5. Revenue: Once you have acquired, activated and retained a user it’s now time to get down to business. Think of how you can monetize the retention. These could be in-app purchases in an app. In the early stages of a startup, it’s best to test your hypotheses about different revenue models that can work.

Now that you have a thoughtful funnel and suggested changes to the product, marketing it will be very easy. It took me 5 years to understand that if you do your product right, you can save a lot in marketing. People now refer to it as growth marketing where brands chose viral guerilla techniques to market themselves rather than to pay to blindly advertise.

In concurrence to the product changes, it will be good to have a deeper understanding of the marketing mix to highlight other aspects that can be improved upon.

Buyer’s Persona

In addition to your understanding of your product, it is equally important to segregate the traits that your buyers exhibit (buyer persona) and traits they don’t (negative persona). Typically there are many ways to approach this problem of creating your buyer’s persona but the one I like to start off is to use the Big 5 Personality test. This psychographic test will help you understand your Target Audience over the following parameters.

The OCEAN model

Openness: People with high on openness will be creative, original, unconventional and open to experiences. They enjoy intellectual stimulation, and creativity. You can use reciprocity, social pressure and focus on hopes/gains rather than duties/losses in your framing. Eg: entrepreneurs typically rank high on openness.

On the other end of the spectrum, people on low openness will be practical, sensible and straightforward. They tend to be down to earth and concrete thinkers.

Conscientiousness: People who rank high on conscientiousness are organised, dutiful and self disciplined people. They are less likely to use Facebook and exhibit seek attention behaviours.

Extraversion: Those who are extroverts are assertive, warm, positive and active. They are more likely to create content online and contribute to your UGC (User Generated Content) campaigns. They are more likely to respond to casual copywriting.

Agreeableness: People who are high on agreeableness are more cooperative and trusting. Frame your copy to emphasize connection with family, interpersonal harmony, sensitive to social validation and liking.

Neuroticism: People high on neuroticism or emotional instability are more likely to be anxious, and depressed.

If you wish to know your personality better or conduct tests you can go to the following link

If you aren’t too much interested in psychology, you can also try and list down relevant details about the background of your typical buyer, the challenges that he is facing (bereft of your product), common objections that he might have along with the fears that he might have before considering your product. You can also capture his relevant hobbies and interests along with his goals and demographic information like location, gender, age, approx. annual income and education level and marital status. This will create a mental picture of how your typical buyers would look like and will help you to drill down the relevant affinities to target.

This essentially should be captured after interviewing your prospective buyers. The infographic below captures the way you could frame your persona.

Now that you know the business well, understand your strengths and customers, you can double down on the low hanging opportunities.

Finalising channels: At this point you know what your typical buyers look like and what your product offers for them, now you just have to look for the right people to target. This could be fairly easy if you have interviewed the prospective buyers or past buyers but in most cases you can achieve good results by guesstimating their online footprints. The following tips might help

  1. Look for forums or groups on sites like facebook or reddit
  2. Advertise on websites that are complementary to your product or a related website
  3. Study the past sources of traffic to horn in on the sources which are performing well
  4. Talk to bloggers in your niche (influencer marketing)
  5. Set up an affiliate program for the brand
  6. Set up content marketing bait to attract people. Eg; giveaway a free e-book in-return of their email addresses to bring people from top of the funnel

Marketing Initiatives

Once you have finalised the new avenues of marketing, think of some overarching initiatives that you can take and put a metric driven goal to it. It’s important to draw a line in the sand for the goal of the campaign to understand the things you would want.

In some of the initial campaigns that you plan, it’s natural to not hit the goal but it’s important to reconcile the goal to be able to track performance and set up realistic goals.

Define the marketing initiatives in as much detail as you can as this will not only make the idea more clear in your mind, it might also be useful for post-campaign analysis.

Now you have a robust digital marketing plan which not only talks about the marketing strategies in isolation but understands the product to highlight growth avenues hidden.

As growth marketers, it’s important to understand that marketing is a science and is based on continually evolving experiments and the level of sophistication of these experiments depends entirely on you.

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