What the NFL Can Teach You About Creating a Marketing Plan

Watching this year’s NFL preseason football games, I’m surprised by the many similarities between football and small business marketing.

I know it seems like such a crazy comparison but they’re closer than you might think!

Coaches are thinking long-term, designing plays to get their team through the season and on to the Super Bowl. They run through the plays with their team to make sure all the players have the best coverage and to ensure that they’re in the best possible position to win the game. The plays aren’t designed for a single person to bring the team to the Super Bowl; they rely on the entire team doing their part to win.

When done right, your marketing should work the same way.

Having a marketing plan will allow you to anticipate any pitfalls, resource requirements like staff and money, as well as the time you’ll need to create your marketing communications. It also helps you stay focused, and provides a roadmap for achieving your goals.

When you’re ready to create a championship-caliber plan, there are 5 questions you’ll need to ask first:

1. What are you trying to accomplish?

You may not be trying to win a game, but it’s likely you’re considering how to increase revenue or donations, drive traffic to your store, sell excess inventory, increase event attendance or get more people to schedule appointments.

To have a successful marketing plan, you have to start with what you want to accomplish. I like to think of this as starting with the end in mind.

2. Who is your target audience?

Just like the defense prevents the other team from scoring, and the offense scores touchdowns, your goals need to be supported with a strong strategy. That starts with thinking about your audience and how to reach them most effectively.

Who are the people you want to work with? Why would they want to work with you? How can you reach them? Understanding your target audience will help you to determine how best to communicate with them.

3. What tools will you use?

The quarterback has quite a few play options when he’s trying to decide how to get the ball down the field. He’s also prepared to call an audible at the last minute to make changes to the plays should the need arise.

The same is true for you. When it comes to the tools you have to market your business, the options are endless. With tools suchas email, social media, mobile and web on your list, the best way to determine the right solution is to consider your target audience and be prepared to make adjustments along the way.

4. When do you plan to communicate?

By the beginning of each game, the coach has created a game plan, full of plays for the team to run. They’ve prepared for what lies ahead in each game, so it’s easy for the team to work together.

As you plan your communication strategy, you should have a similar approach. Use a calendar to lay out what you’ll communicate and when. With a calendar, you’ll have the ability to schedule the time necessary to build your marketing communications.

By planning in advance, you can strategize around holidays or special events that may affect your marketing and you have plenty of time make last minute adjustments. You can determine where you might fit in marketing communications for an unexpected event or to accommodate an early or late release of a new product.

5. How will you know you’re successful?

As the game comes to an end, the football team knows if they were successful by the number of points they were able to score and if they won the game. You’ll be able to see your success by asking yourself, “What was my goal, and did I reach it?”

If you can see that you were really close to hitting your goal, you will know how to tweak your marketing plan to reach it next time. When you see you successfully reached your goal, you’ll know how to plan your marketing communications for the future.

Before you know it, you’ll be able to tackle any marketing problem that comes your way.

Spend some time refining your goals, always keep your audience in mind, use the right tools and strategize a smart plan of attack.

The next time that you’re watching your favorite team on the field, I promise you’ll be thinking about more than just football!

Need help kicking off your marketing campaign? Join me at a Constant Contact Boot Camp!

Constant Contact Boot Camp: Constant Contact offers a wide range of beginner and advanced hands-on, in-person Boot Camp classes that teach small businesses and nonprofits how to be successful at email and social media marketing, as well as event management. Our nation-wide Boot Camp trainers are some of the best in the field.

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