All too often, business leaders with the best of intentions to grow their business fall short when it comes to understanding the function of a strategic marketing plan. A well-crafted strategic marketing plan provides an organization with the focus and direction to pursue growth opportunities.
There are five essential steps you need to build an effective strategic marketing plan:
Step 1: Determine your marketing philosophy
Companies that are successfully building brand awareness, driving more leads and securing new business as a result of their marketing efforts all share a common philosophy — they view marketing as an investment, not an expense. Once you have determined that marketing is vital to your company’s growth plan, your next step is to define some measurable goals.
Step 2: Determine goals and objectives
To help you determine the right goals, spend meaningful time with your team evaluating your growth levels to date and your current position in your market space. After making your list of marketing goals, prioritize the list and then select the top three to five, focusing on the ones that will most meaningfully move your business forward. Make sure the goals you set are measurable. Setting measurable goals also brings with it accountability, which is an essential part to ensuring that your plan is actually executed.
Step 3: Set marketing strategies
Many companies skip strategy development in favor of tactics, but tactics without strategy are about as effective as a car without a steering wheel. If your goals dictate where you want the company to be, the strategy is the route you need to take to get there. For example, sample strategies could be:
* Increase brand awareness
* Increase overall sales volume
Step 4: Determining tactics
Strategies establish a broad outline of how you want to achieve your goals/objectives, and tactics are the specific actions or activities that need to be properly executed in order to achieve them. If a goal is to increase and enhance your company’s brand awareness, a sound strategy would be to increase the number of brand touches among potential customers. Tactics for implementing that strategy would be blogging about issues that are relevant to your target audience, creating and promoting an e-book with helpful tips or sponsoring an event.
Step 5: Determine your marketing budget
Your marketing budget should be directed by your company’s goals and objectives for the future, by how fast you want to grow, and by how ready you are to grow it. But your marketing budget can’t be solely focused on just dollars. It also must consider time and resources. Before you submit your budget, you must also determine how many manpower hours will be required to manage and execute the plan.
While all five of these steps are critical to marketing success, once the plan is completed, it should not be put away on a shelf. Ideally, it should be reviewed monthly with your team to check progress and adjust as appropriate. Marketing works best when the dedication is there, so buy-in and accountability from your team will ultimately determine success.