I’ve seen it happen to marketers many times. I’ve even done it myself. You start a new job or a new year, excited about the opportunity to be successful and truly make a difference for your company. But you’re so anxious to get the ball rolling and to prove your value that you jump right into redesigning the logo, overhauling the website, or any number of other tactical tasks, hoping to move the needle quickly.
This time around, take a more thoughtful, strategic approach to marketing—and dramatically increase your chances of short- and long-term success—by spending the time to develop an effective marketing plan. It’s really not that difficult, but it does take time to get it right.
Start by addressing the questions in these seven categories:
#1: Situational Analysis
- What problem(s) do you solve for your customers?
- What products, services, or solutions do you provide?
- Do you understand the current state of your industry and the segments therein?
- Who are your competitors, and what are their strengths and weaknesses?
- Who are your partners, and what do they bring to the table?
- Have you conducted thorough SWOT and PEST analyses?
#2: Goals and Objectives
- What are the three or four most important goals you want to accomplish during the plan period?
- What specific, measurable objectives do you need to achieve to enable you to reach those goals?
#3: Strategy and Branding
- What’s the vision for your company?
- How will you reach your goals and objectives?
- How do you want your brand to be perceived?
- Do you have a compelling, unique value proposition?
- Have you developed marketing personas for your target customers?
- Do you have the ability to scale the business?
- What analog (traditional) marketing activities do you plan to implement?
- What digital marketing activities do you plan to implement?
- How will you use marketing automation and CRM tools to manage leads and nurture prospects?
- What will you do to increase conversions?
- Are your marketing, sales, and customer service functions properly aligned?
- What’s the marketing budget, and how is it segmented and prioritized?
- How was the budget determined?
- Is the budget adequate to enable you to reach your goals?
- How will you define success or failure?
- What specific marketing metrics/KPIs (key performance indicators) will you track?
- Which analytical and organizational tools will you use to measure your progress?
#7: Refinement and Improvement
- How will you ensure your marketing plan is continually refined and improved over time?
I can tell you from experience that taking the time to develop a strategic marketing plan now will pay huge dividends to you and your company next week, next month, and even next year. Don’t put it off!
A final thought: “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ~Sun Tzu