You’ve probably heard the quote, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”.  The saying is true even when it comes to your marketing plan.  If you’re in business, you MUST have a marketing plan.  Having a plan in place establishes the goals and tactics of every campaign.

While each campaign should have it’s own goals and strategies, your company as a whole also needs a strategic marketing plan to guide your efforts as an entity.  Developing this plan is vital to your business success and requires strategic thinking.  By doing this, you’ll be able to clarify your goals and identify where you see your brand going forward.  It will provide a clear map of your goals and how to get there. It will help keep everyone on your team on the same page. It will give you a competitive edge.

So, how do you get started?

DEFINE THE MISSION

First, you need to determine what your marketing mission is.  What do you hope to achieve, as a brand, through your entire marketing strategy?  This requires big-picture thinking.  It’s not enough to say the goal is to sell more product or sign more clients.  You need to dig into your brand’s values and align your goals to those values.

Questions to ask to help you define your mission:

  1. Why are you in business?
  2. What is the purpose of your business?
  3. What’s the desired public perception of your business?
  4. Does your mission statement bring clarity to the consumer and unity among your team?

ANALYZE YOUR CURRENT SITUATION

To put a plan in place to reach a goal, you must first identify where you are currently.  It’s impossible to give directions if you don’t have a starting point.  There are several ways you can approach this analysis, but a typical method is called a SWOT analysis.  That stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Questions to help you analyze your current situation:

  1. What does your business do well?
  2. In what areas is your business underperforming or is limited?
  3. Where do you have potential that’s untapped and can you take advantage of these?
  4. What challenges or obstacles do you currently face?

STRATEGIZE

At this stage, you’ve identified your current positioning as well as opportunities for growth.  Now you need to create a roadmap to success.  Start with the end in mind and work backward.  You know where you want to go, now is the time to determine how you’re going to get there.  This is where you’re going to define who your target audience is and how you’re going to reach them, as well as how you expect they’ll respond to your efforts.

Questions to ask to create your marketing strategy:

  1. Who is our target audience? Get specific.
  2. How can we reach this target audience?
  3. How much will it cost to reach them?

DETERMINE A MARKETING MIX

Once you’ve determined your strategy it’s time to focus on how you’re going to achieve it.  You’ll need to focus on your products (or services), your pricing structure, promotions, and placement.  These four “Ps” will guide how you communicate the value of your products and services to the customer.  This is often considered “brand positioning”, determining ahead of time how you’ll position your brand and products in the hearts and minds of consumers.

Questions to ask to define your marketing mix:

  1. What is the product or service?
  2. Why does the consumer want/need it?
  3. What is the messaging we’ll use to convey this to the consumer?
  4. What advertising channels will we utilize?

IMPLEMENTATION

Once you’ve defined your strategy, it’s time to implement.  Implementation is an ongoing task, as it’s vital to measure performance and course correct as necessary.  It’s not enough to kick off some advertising campaigns and just let them run.  You must monitor how they’re performing and measure the results.  If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change it.

Questions to ask as you implement and evaluate:

  1. Is our target audience responding (positively or negatively) to our efforts?
  2. Are we staying within our budget?
  3. What are our competitors doing?
  4. Are there ways we can automate what’s working?

 

As a small business that doesn’t know where to begin with marketing, if you follow these simple steps you’ll be well on your way to getting started with a sustainable marketing strategy.