Marketing, like all other businesses, calls for its own unique set of business documents. Some, like a marketing plan, are pretty obvious. Other documents that you will need as a marketer are not quite so glaringly obvious. In fact, many marketers (read: your competitors) are operating without some or all of the documents essential to running a marketing business.
To be able to edge ahead of the competition, you want to make sure you have all the documents that add up to a professional marketing operation. Every step you take to get ahead of the competition is a step worth taking!
With that in mind, here is a rundown of five marketing documents every marketer needs to be successful.
1. Marketing agreement
Clearly, one of the most essential documents any marketer needs is a marketing agreement, or contract. Often, this document ties to a specific campaign, though it may also be used to put your services on a monthly retainer.
The marketing agreement or marketing proposal is a legally-binding contract, typically lasting three to twenty-four months in duration, depending upon the nature of the campaign. If, for example, you are a social media marketer, you might enter into an agreement to market a new product on Facebook for six months, with a monetary goal in mind at the end.
The marketing agreement also typically stipulates the exit strategy. That means it explains what should happen at the end of the campaign.
Is it simply the end of the relationship? Does the relationship transition from executing a specified plan to monthly retainer services for maintenance of certain marketing aspects? Does the agreement allow for a renewal or extension under certain stipulations?
A marketing agreement defines the work you will do in the campaign.
2. Marketing requirements document
Regardless of whether you work in-house or for-hire as a marketer, you are going to need a marketing requirements document to be able to do the best job you possibly can. A marketing requirements document is one that tells you exactly how you are supposed to market a particular product or service.
This document is supposed to be created by the product creators or service providers, but the truth is many of them don’t know they need this. They may very well have the foresight to hand-off their marketing tasks to you, but they are just as likely to be confused about what you will need.
For that reason, you will want to work with the product developer or service provider to establish a marketing requirements document. They may need your input as much as you need theirs.
What goes into a marketing requirements document?
- Clarification of target audience
One of the main things you need to know in marketing is: who am I marketing to? This is cleared up by the marketing requirements document. Getting this right will help you make sure you are reaching the customers who are most likely to convert.
Look to buyer personas to help you define the target audience. Nailing this element will help you speak as directly as possible to the right buyers throughout the campaign.
- Special marketing directives
You are a marketing expert, right? What happens if you are tasked with marketing a techie device you are utterly unfamiliar with? Your career need not come to a screeching halt in that scenario. You just need to have the technical details to work with, and possibly the right person to help you get it done.
Say, for example, you are tasked with marketing a graphic drawing tablet, aimed at graphic designers. That’s a high-tech gadget that no one expects you – as a marketer – to know everything about. Work with the product designer to give your marketing sufficient depth to speak to the audience for that device. You may even need to employ a technical writer or skilled, tech niche freelance writer to help you get it done. If so, this has to be a part of your marketing requirements document.
Special marketing directives help you conquer the minute details of marketing requirements, making sure all your bases are covered.
Is the product new or updated?
Marketing efforts have to adapt accordingly when you are tasked with the promotion of an updated product, as opposed to a brand new one. If the product is an update, you will need your marketing requirements to address the changes.
Have bugs been fixed? Have user requests been implemented? Is this update being offered at a new price point? Does the update open up the product to new potential customers?
Clarifying points such as these will help you further tailor your marketing message.
3. Strategic blueprint (plan)
Every marketing effort needs a plan, which is sometimes called a blueprint (in fact, marketers, ever resourceful as they are, often find new names for this document).
A marketing plan outlines everything that will happen in the course of executing a marketing campaign. Some common inclusions in a marketing strategy include:
- Goals and milestones of the campaign
- Dates of review meetings
- Responsible people/points of contact
As you can imagine, strategies can vary quite a bit, depending on the situation. Here again, getting this document right comes down to working with others involved to make sure all your bases are covered.
4. Content schedule
In this era of intense focus on content marketing, it is very likely that you will have to procure some type of content (or multiple types) to execute a marketing strategy. This creates a need to plan out the content.
The content schedule establishes the following:
- Type of content needed
- Employees or freelancers responsible for each article of content
- Due dates of each piece of content
- Posting dates of all content
Certain topics of your content will correspond to other events – limited time offers, holiday promotion, etc. and you will want to keep such events in mind as you create your content schedule.
5. Social media conversation calendar
The social media conversation calendar is (unsurprisingly) a lot like a content schedule. Since social media sites are a huge part of marketing, you know that you will inevitably need to work in social media.
But, with social media, the better you plan, the better your results. Basically, a social media conversation calendar helps you determine what discussions your company will try to start each month.
The conversation calendar is to an extent a directive of your social media voice.
Will you use the personal pronoun “we” in postings for your company? Or will you position yourself, by name, as the voice of the company? Will your social media output be connected exclusively to your web content, such as your blog posts? Will you re-post industry-relevant content and try to drum up conversations around what others are saying?
Your social media conversation calendar, in addition to functioning as a social media posting schedule, should be created with questions like those in mind.
Are you using all of these documents to rock your marketing business? Are there other essential documents we’ve left off our list? Are there any marketing agreement templates you’d like to see?
And don’t forget that we have many other free marketing agreement templates like: