Five Essential Ingredients of a Service Provider Marketing Plan, Part 2

Welcome back to the Five Essential Ingredients of a Service Provider Marketing Plan. In part one, we discussed finding your unique story, defining your marketing strategy and performing a marketing assessment. In part two we bring everything together into a measurable, audience-specific marketing plan.

Step 4) Building an effective marketing plan

Now that you have defined the objectives of your marketing plan and assessed your marketing resources and capabilities, it’s time to create the plan. Four key factors of an effective marketing plan include audience, offers, calendar and measurement.

  • Audience – A marketing plan designed for a generic audience is destined to fall short of expectations. For example, if your goal is to build a sales pipeline of senior-level business decision makers, then IT-focused activities such as driving downloads of a technical whitepaper would fail to support that goal. The message and campaign tactics that motivate these audiences differ vastly. Equally important is marketing to audience-specific contact lists or communities. Whether you are using an in-house list or acquiring a new one, segment the list to avoid sending off-point messages to your audience.
  • Offers – Match the marketing content and collateral to the audience. For instance, how-it-works videos and technical whitepapers resonate with functional IT audiences. C-level executives, on the other hand, respond to how-it-helps videos, solution-oriented messages and content that focuses on business strategy. If you have gaps in your offers, invest time into filling them with new offers instead of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
  • Calendar – A marketing plan is not a one-time event. Your goal should be to create a cadence of audience-specific activities that establishes ongoing (and hopefully cumulative) opportunities for awareness, engagement, interaction and ultimately conversion. Give your audiences different ways to consume your message (e.g. email series, webinars, direct mail, etc.), offers (e.g. video, whitepaper, infographic, etc.) and then create a calendar that spreads out message delivery over days, weeks or months. Generally, I try to only promote one call to action/offer per interaction and limit that delivery to once per week.
  • Measurement – Without goals and metrics, how do you know how the plan is performing? The plan needs to define your success criteria. Is it opens and clicks? Video views? Social shares? Lead forms completed? Look back to the strategy and overall objectives to determine which metrics are important for your plan. Then, research industry benchmarks or look at past performance to determine what your targets should be. A good place to start is SiriusDecisions.

Step 5) Execute, measure and refine

Ready, set, go! Now that the marketing plan is underway, it’s time to start monitoring performance against your measurement targets. Give your audience ample time and opportunities to consume the information before making any conclusions. Since you broke the plan down into a calendar of activities, you will be in good position to make adjustments to factors such as time of day, offers or messages after patterns emerge. Finally, remember that no doesn’t mean never. After you have analyzed how the campaign performed, you can retarget those audiences that didn’t respond with a new message and apply the lessons learned to your next marketing plan.

Market Smarter, Not Harder

As I said in part one, there’s no reason you have to do everything yourself or from scratch. Search for marketing plans, best practices and how to guides to find a wealth of information you can leverage. (Hint: Look on the Merit Mile blog). Citrix and Microsoft service provider partners can even tap into resources like this new action-oriented marketing plan from Citrix or this Microsoft Go-To-Market Playbook.

What questions do you have about developing your own marketing plan? Contact me to schedule a time to talk and explore how the service provider and hosting industry experts at Merit Mile can help you design and execute a marketing plan to build momentum in your hosting business.

Scott Lindars
Director of Technology Markets | Merit Mile