“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
This quote by Benjamin Franklin is parroted so much it has become a cliché, but there is a reason so many repeat this saying. Plans give form to ideas, and people seek something real and affecting in the marketplace of ideas.
Creating a video strategy without a marketing plan is a foolproof way to fail. Your ideas fall by the wayside, there is no rhyme or reason to content distribution, and you lose valuable time you could use to build your business.
Your marketing plan does not need to be some big production, with multiple board meetings and planning sessions à la Mad Men. It can be something as simple as an outline, a series of goals with actions, or something you spend part of your day putting together on a shoestring budget.
The point of a marketing plan is to give you a general idea of what you should be doing with your video content. You can add or subtract whatever you want. Think of it as a guide that helps you know whether you are getting off track or not.
Most businesses think that creating marketing plans for every video is a waste of time. Almost half of small businesses spend less than two hours per week on their overall marketing efforts. These same businesses also lack an understanding of their results, and 39 percent do not even track their marketing ROI.
In other words, most businesses that do use marketing have no idea whether any of it works! You are wasting your time and money on videos and marketing materials if you cannot prove that they are helping your bottom line. So why not spend a little time creating a marketing plan to save yourself a lot of pain and frustration?
1. Understand Your Business Environment
Why does your video strategy need a marketing plan to go along with it? A marketing plan helps you evaluate the business environment. This environment encompasses your audience, potential clients, business competitors, resources, and content mediums.
Are you a small software company trying to carve out a niche in the market? Then you will probably not be competing with tech giants, but rather with other startups.
Customize your plan based on what the business environment tells you. If video on social media is becoming a popular way to get your message out, then that’s the environment where you should focus your efforts.
For example, many media companies have begun to shift from Facebook to YouTube due to the rise in long-form content. These companies saw the business environment changing, and they changed their behavior as a result.
2. Know Your Audience
It’s critical to understand not only the business environment but your audience as well. What does your target audience want to see? Do you even know what your target audience is? Creating a marketing plan will help you figure out where your video will receive its maximum ROI.
Think of TV channels. What’s the purpose of creating a channel in the first place? It’s to focus on a specific audience.
CNN is not going to be airing teen heartthrob dramas about wizards and vampires. CNN airs news, while channels like the CW air more youth-centric content.
If your video content is not created for the right audience, it will not be effective. That doesn’t mean you have to be niche-specific, but creating a plan with an effective consumer profile can help you find an interested audience.
More than 50 percent of consumers want to see more videos from brands, according to HubSpot Research. Give them what they want!
There are many types of video formats from which to choose, but not every type of video is right for your audience. A marketing plan takes the guesswork out by helping you decide what content you’ll make and what your audience should take away from your videos. One of the best ways to approach this is to create content pillars that you can build videos and campaigns around.
3. Refine Your Goals
No marketing plan is complete without a set of reasonable, attainable goals to guide you. Marketers who set goals are an astounding 429 percent more likely to report business success, according to CoSchedule research. There is a strong correlation between setting goals and accomplishing those goals as well.
In other words, write your goals down immediately. A marketing plan with goals sends a message to you and your business that you have an idea of how the future should unfold.
You should have specific, measurable, time-bound, and realistic goals when it comes to executing your video content strategy. How many videos do you want to make this year? What are your ROI goals? How many views are you looking to amass?
Figuring out answers to these questions sets your bar for success. Goals provide clarity. Goals provide focus.
If nothing else, create a series of goals for where you want to be with your marketing efforts. Just remember that a goal without a plan is just a wish. Plan how you will achieve those goals!
4. Evaluate Your Current and Future Efforts
Having a marketing plan can protect your business from the ebb and flow of trends. There are many threats to your marketing plan from the get-go; competition, consumer tech, and shifting audience trends are just a few examples. No one can possibly know the future, but a marketing plan can future-proof your efforts.
Planning allows you to understand where you are in the market and pivot when necessary. For example, video content has shifted from desktop and televisions to mobile devices over the past decade. Mobile requires different video formats, lengths, and content types in order to grab the audience’s attention.
Back in 2012, CNN published an article that asked, “Will mobile devices would kill digital advertising?” The answer to that question was an emphatic, resounding, “NO!” In fact, mobile will drive 86 percent of digital ad growth through 2022.
Imagine if you had created a marketing plan based on CNN’s forecast and then never changed it when new information appeared? The beauty of a marketing plan is that even if you get it wrong initially, you can change it and understand why you changed it. Some of your best ideas may be previously failed ideas that were tweaked to meet your new audience and marketing goals.
The point of creating a marketing plan is to give you a better shot at creating that video that people want to watch and share. That’s it. If you can’t identify your business environment and audience, don’t have goals for your videos, and lack the ability to evaluate your past mistakes, you will eventually become frustrated with the whole process.
Marketing planning may seem like extra time you could use to do something more worthwhile, but in the long run, it is incredibly valuable. Plans reduce risk and improve your decision-making process.
Good leaders, people or businesses alike, spend time planning. If you want to lead your industry and make the most interesting and shareable videos in the industry, a simple marketing plan can put you one step closer to that reality.