If you’ve never really developed a marketing plan before, the prospect of creating your first one probably feels pretty intimidating. (In fact, I know it does — I remember the first time I was tasked with developing one.)
One of the first things you might be wondering about is how much time it takes to create the plan. Knowing there’s plenty of research and analysis needed to parse through your competition, market and potential channels, will you need 10 hours? 50? 100? And can you do it in a few days? A week? A month?
To give a frame of reference, at Simple Machines, our typical discovery process takes on average about a month and usually comes in at between 90 – 130 hours, including project management and client meetings.
Looking outside our own walls, anecdotally, I’ve heard from other agencies who have similar timelines — though the format and timing of deliverables varies.
This question has also been posed on Quora with respondents reporting anywhere from three hours to six months, but the four-to-six week range is a common answer.
Back to our own discovery timeline, keep in mind this is a very in-depth process that includes everything from:
Market trend research
Customer and stakeholder interviews
Buyer persona development
Competitive and gap analysis
Messaging themes, voice and campaign samples
Tools and infrastructure considerations
While we generally follow the same process to ensure a strong strategic foundation is place, not every business requires the exact same planning services. Some businesses might warrant more time for additional research and considerations, while others may already have some puzzle pieces in place, in which case the timeline can be shortened.
What if I Need Help but Don’t Have That Kind of Time?
It’s one thing for a marketing agency to be able to roll up their sleeves and spend a month hunkering down to build out a comprehensive marketing plan for a client. It provides the luxury of being able to devote a focus on marketing.
But, we realize not everyone has this same luxury.
If you’re in charge of developing a marketing plan at your organization (on top of the hundred other things you’re expected to be doing on any given day), spending that kind of time simply may not be realistic.
And if you’re not in a place yet where you’re ready to partner with a marketing agency or hire someone dedicated to marketing, the solution might feel out of reach.
First, know that you’re not alone. For small businesses, this challenge isn’t uncommon.
To help businesses in this position develop a plan and get some wins on the books, we’ve introduced a new service called Marketing Plan in a Day.
Marketing Plan in a Day
As the name suggests, Marketing Plan in a Day is a one-day session, at the end of which we deliver an actionable marketing plan.
Similar to how our Website in a Day service is tailored to businesses with needs that fall in between needing a DIY template site and a full boat, interactive website, Marketing Plan in a Day caters to businesses that need help creating a custom, actionable marketing plan but may not have the resources to engage an agency for a full discovery yet.
In a nutshell, Marketing Plan in a Day runs businesses through a condensed version of our discovery process, resulting in a plan that can be put into action immediately — with or without or help.
Naturally, fitting the process into a one-day format precludes some things like first-hand interviews or channel rate negotiations, but we’ve found that the process we have delivers on the much-needed competitive context, messaging direction and channel plan required to get a marketing operation in motion.
By offering a manageable way to create that first iteration of the marketing plan, our hope is that we can help more businesses get past the ‘need a plan’ phase and into execution mode. So far, the results have been very encouraging — and a common refrain we hear is that the clients wish they had done this sooner.
Interested in learning more about Marketing Plan in a Day?
Charlie is the Chief Strategy Officer at Simple Machines Marketing. When he's not doing the marketing, he likes playing guitar, hanging with his family in Chicago and lots of other stuff too but this seems like a good amount for a blog bio.