If you’re a corporate communications professional, you’ve seen a copy of your company’s marketing plan. Right?
If you have, you get 5 points.
If you were asked to provide input to it, you get 10 points. And congrats.
If your company has a marketing plan, you work on the communications team and haven’t seen it, you lose 5 points and have to work through the weekend.
If your company doesn’t have a strategic marketing plan – and you know who you are – take away any points you may have accidently earned and spend the next month (right through the 4th of July weekend) developing one.
All too often we see companies, especially small and medium-sized businesses but larger enterprises too, jumping the lead generation gun without taking the time to build a well thought out strategic marketing plan. But there they are, racing through the marketing budget like there’s no tomorrow. And for many of these companies, there really is no tomorrow. Without doing the work of architecting a marketing plan that will generate results, the lead generation process becomes busy work and not much else.
Time. That’s the number one reason marketers give for not developing a strategic marketing plan. “Because we need leads right this minute.”
Pity the poor misunderstood “strategic marketing plan.” Its reputation needs a transformation. The fact is this: if a marketing team makes it a priority to do the spadework, then building a strategic marketing plan could be done in less than a month.
That’s right. One month. Sooner in some cases, if you’re truly focused.
Without the upfront investment, though, the task of building the plan takes on a different dimension. And that’s why some companies simply don’t bother with one.
Like lots of things in our professional and personal lives, the work one does on the front end tends to pay dividends on the back end.
- Goals – consider the company’s business, sales, marketing and operational goals. Be as specific as possible.
- Market – gather quantitative and qualitative information about your industry, industry trends, the competition and market conditions that touch your company, today and tomorrow.
- Identity – what does your company stand for? What is its unique value proposition? How do you want your customers to feel about your company? Consider all stakeholders, from employees to investors to government bodies. All influence your company’s identity, and ultimately, its reputation.
- Products/services – detail the features and benefits of each product and/or service. Put the focus on your competitive differentiators.
- Target market(s) – define and rank them in order of how much each will help your company achieve its goals.
- Competition – You do have competitors. Every company does. Describe each, compare pricing structures vs. yours, do a SWOT analysis on each and detail how you’ll compete with them.
- Sales model – detail how your company sells (direct, channel, etc.) and the sales process. Consider the required sales tools.
- Marketing mix – What activities will help your team achieve its goals? PR? Always. Advertising? Perhaps. Direct marketing? It depends. Provide a year long activity calendar for each marketing element.
- Marketing organization – how is it structured, or should be structured? Describe all of the key positions. Consider what will be done in-house and outsourced.
- Budget – the budget must be itemized on a monthly basis.
Consider and research each of these 10 elements, and you’ll have a strategic marketing plan that works as a result. Ignore the spadework, and the market will likely ignore you.
*Inspired by Go-To-Market Strategies, Seattle WA.