Monday, March 10, 2014

Take Business to New Heights with a 3-Step Strategic Marketing Plan



Guest Post by Christina Motley, Christina Motley LLC

Has your business reached a plateau in terms of growth? When you started your business, did you create and implement a marketing plan? If not, now is a good time to revisit the importance of what a strategic marketing plan can do for your business.

To refresh your memory, marketing plans serve as a guide for achieving your overarching business objectives, determining how, where and to whom you will find the greatest opportunities for lead generation and increased sales. Similar to business plans, strategic marketing plans  range from short to long documents and vary in terms of breadth and depth. If you don’t know where to begin, follow these three simple steps. Addressing these questions will provide the foundation of a dynamic marketing plan that evolves over time.

1. Who are you? What do you want to accomplish?
Whether your business is a start-up or well established, it’s important to record the history in the marketing plan. Keep the story brief and include the background about your founders, core products and services, mission and vision.

What’s your position in the marketplace? Do you focus on business-to-business (B2B)/business-to-consumer (B2C), a specific geographic location or industry segments? Make sure to define your target audience as well.

Next, where do you want to take your business? An essential element of your marketing plan is articulating specific, measurable business goals, number of clients, revenue forecasts and desired timeframes for achieving your goals.


2. What does the competition look like?

Analyze the competitive environment by conducting a SWOT analysis, and identify your business’ Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT). This information allows you to discover key differentiators and develop a Unique Value Proposition. The value proposition explains what benefit you provide for your customers/prospects and how you do it uniquely well. Among the information to include are details about competitive products, pricing, promotion methods and brand attributes.


3. How will you achieve your goals?

You’ve outlined your business and goals and defined the competition. What comes next? Developing the strategies (the why), defining success metrics (how to achieve the strategy) and identifying the tactics (how and where the messages will be distributed.)

The other crucial piece of the strategic marketing plan is a detailed action plan that specifies roles and responsibilities, timeline, message frequency and costs. One thing to note – if you’ve identified several business goals, then you will need to develop multiple strategies and tactics to achieve them.


What’s next?

Whether the marketing plan is simple or complex, implementation and execution are critical to success. Equally important is measuring the outcome and reporting results against the plan. Are you on track, or do you need to make adjustments?

Also, revisit the plan periodically and keep it up to date. Best practices suggest 2-4 times per year or as needed based on
Political, Economic, Social or Technology (PEST) factors that may impact the business.

To better guide you through the process, download your complementary
marketing plan template.

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