As an agency, you know how to provide guidance and deliver projects for your clients. But when was the last time you took a look at your own agency and planned out a strategic roadmap?
Agencies spend around 7-20% of their revenue on their own marketing — but that's a pretty wide gap. How can you know what's a good ballpark investment for your agency’s marketing efforts?
No matter what your budget is, you need a strategic plan to ensure your marketing investment is worth it. Without it, you'll struggle to focus on the marketing activities that will be the most impactful for your agency.
Below, we’ll give you seven actionable steps for establishing a successful strategic marketing plan for your agency.
What is strategic marketing planning?
A strategic marketing plan is the process your agency follows to reach specific marketing goals, and includes the foundation, guidelines, and steps needed to achieve those goals.
Depending on your individual agency, those goals might include increasing revenue, growing your brand awareness, increasing your competitive advantage, or launching new products and services. It's important to note that these goals can change and thus, so can your strategic marketing plan. But no matter what goals you want to accomplish, you’ll need a plan to see it through.
Typically, agency owners handle the bulk of any strategic planning, but marketing planning may involve other relevant team members and stakeholders. For example, your agency may have a dedicated marketing team or business development representative. These team members will have insights regarding how to best capture prospective clients' attention, so be sure to include them in marketing strategic planning.
No matter which agency members are involved, the goal is the same: to build an actionable plan that moves your agency toward its goals.
How to develop a strategic marketing plan
"Marketing is not a task, it is a process. It involves developing a strategy to communicate your message, identifying your target audience, and measuring your results."
~Jay Baer, renowned marketing expert, author, and speaker
To create an effective marketing plan, you need to follow a few important steps:
Step 1: Conduct your agency’s marketing analysis
First, you'll need to conduct a marketing analysis of your agency as it is today to establish a benchmark. After all, how can you set realistic goals if you don’t know how you're currently performing?
A marketing analysis will level-set your playing field and allow you to see where your agency is doing well and where there are opportunities to improve.
There are a few different ways you can go about conducting your marketing analysis. You can start going through the marketing data that you already collect from the tools in your tech stack. That might include Google Analytics, your CRM, and your website data. These resources can help you gather the information needed to set your initial benchmarks.
You can also examine your competitor’s data to see their performance. A competitive analysis helps you find the gaps in your biggest competition’s marketing strategies, which allows you to target the areas they are falling behind in. It also helps you see where you sit compared to others in your area or industry. You can then tell if you are matching what they are doing, falling behind, or coming out ahead.
Finally, you can gather market research directly from the source: your clients.
Send out surveys and questionnaires to current and previous clients and potential clients to ask them questions about your services. This helps you get direct feedback about what's working (and not working) for your agency.
Step 2: Determine your ideal customer profile
The next step is to determine your ideal customer profile, or ICP. An ICP is a fictional representation of your target audience. As an agency, this will likely be a business client rather than an individual customer.
When building your ICP, consider things like the type of business your agency targets. Do you work with small businesses or large corporations? Do you want to work with IT departments, financial branches, or sales teams? Who are the key individuals and decision-makers within those organizations you want to speak to, and what are their job titles?
As you define your ideal customer profile, it’s important to remember that while this is an "ideal" fictional creation, it should be grounded in reality. Look at your current clients and identify similarities between them. If your current client roster includes businesses with 20-50 employees, you may be setting your agency up for failure if your ICP targets huge enterprises with thousands of employees.
How to define your ICP
While ICPs will vary somewhat between agencies, there are a few specific characteristics and demographic information that you should include. If your agency doesn’t have an ICP yet, use the following as a template to get you started.
Challenges and limitations: What are your ideal clients' biggest pain points, and how does your agency solve them? (This is a big one!)
Company size: How many employees do they have? How many customers do they have?
Budget: How much should they be willing to spend on your agency's services?
Revenue: How much revenue does the client's product or service bring in annually?
Geography: Where is your ideal client located? Are you looking for international businesses, or do you prefer local clients within your time zone?
Industry: What industry are your agency's services designed to benefit?
Products and services: What does your ideal client sell or provide to their customers?
Step 3: Set marketing goals based on prior data and desired business outcomes
Next, you can determine reasonable, realistic goals using the prior data you’ve collected. It helps to break marketing strategies down into workable time-bound sections for each quarter or year. For each section, plan out specific goals like adding a specific number of new clients, increasing your followers on social media, or finding more leads for your sales funnel.
When you set goals, you can measure success, allocate resources, have a focused drive, and make data-driven decisions that lead to better marketing outcomes. After all, it's hard to navigate without an end destination in mind.
Step 4: Create your marketing mix
After you set your strategic goals, it’s time to look at your marketing mix: the four Ps of marketing.
This should include all of your agency's service offerings; base services and add-on services if you have them.
Pricing can be tricky. Price your services too high, and you risk losing potential clients to competitors. But if you price your services too low, you'll never be profitable. Here's a good resource that offers some considerations for determining your agency's pricing for profitability.
Who's delivering your service? Team members will handle most of the day-to-day work, but you may also have others directly involved in providing deliverables: agency owners, project managers, account executives, etc.
This is the method you'll use to inform your target market about your services. Also known as the marketing campaign, this should include all your marketing activities: PPC advertising, social media campaigns, case studies, and beyond.
Step 5: Build your marketing project management process
Marketing project management gives you control over your plan and helps you assign tasks, set timelines, ensure that milestones are being met, and add details and notes to specific steps in your process.
Having the support of a project planning software like Teamwork goes a long way in helping agencies accomplish both their own marketing tactics and other projects for clients.
Check out our ultimate guide to marketing project management to help you get started.
Step 6: Establish a detailed schedule and timeline
The next step is to make sure you have established a detailed schedule and timeline for all the items in your marketing strategy plan. This gives you a clear frame of reference for when you want to meet your goals and reassess your marketing plan.
This is another step in the strategic process where the right software can help. Teamwork can help you plan successful marketing campaigns with tools that help you create deadlines, add timelines to projects, assign specific tasks, and follow up on different steps within your strategy.
You can also set priorities, so your team knows when the deadline for hitting a goal is coming close, so they can refocus their efforts.
Learn more about how Teamwork empowers agencies to better serve their clients.
Step 7: Launch, execute, report, iterate
The final step of the strategic planning process involves four key components: launch, execute, report, and iterate.
Launch: The initial phase of a marketing plan. This phase is critical in creating awareness and generating interest in the product or service.
Execute: This involves executing the various tactics, initiatives, and strategies that have been identified in the marketing plan to achieve the desired objectives.
Report: This refers to analyzing and measuring the plan's effectiveness by checking on metrics and KPIs.
Iterate: This refers to making adjustments and improvements to the marketing plan based on the results of the previous phase.
It’s important to remember that changing a plan doesn't mean it failed: it’s a strategic move. Sometimes pivoting your plan allows you to reach more achievable marketing objectives and set yourself up for more success in the future.
By taking the time to evaluate your plan and create new versions, you can work on continuous improvement and become proactive in your strategic approach. This helps you remain competitive and take the steps necessary to grow and scale your agency.
Accomplish your agency’s marketing plan with Teamwork
As an agency, you know all the ins and outs of creating plans and implementing projects for your clients. However, your own agency's marketing goals often get set to the side in favor of external clients.
To grow your client roster, you need to create a strategic marketing plan with actionable guidelines for success.
Having the right tool by your side is essential for the success of your marketing plan. At Teamwork, we excel in giving agencies (and their clients) the tools they need to manage projects effectively. We offer features that improve communication, simplify tasks, and give managers and leaders insights into daily agency operations.
Sign up for Teamwork today and discover how we can elevate your agency's strategic planning.