Business meetings run rampant & business plans are focused on & drawn up. That’s all good & well, but you need to ensure that all that hard work & money isn’t being wasted if you don’t have any customers. While everyone knows the value of a solid business plan, a large number of businesses forget to focus as much energy on developing a strong marketing plan. Even less seem to have a well-established marketing strategy.
It is common for marketing strategies & marketing plans to be confused & just grouped together because one is driven by the other. However, they are two distinct facets of marketing. Your marketing strategy is your company’s goals to achieve your marketing efforts; your value proposition, your overall game plan of how to find, approach & gain new customers. Your marketing plan is the roadmap for the company to follow to achieve your marketing goals.
What is a marketing strategy?
A marketing strategy is vital to the direction of your company & may even influence your corporate values & other strategies. To start developing your marketing strategy, you need to first look at your own company’s value proposition. You need to know your unique selling proposition, what competitive advantage you have in the market. Then you have to carry out market research to understand your competition, your target market & any other factors that may influence you engaging & attracting customers.
Once all your research has been carried out, the best targets have been identified & the best way to engage said targets have been decided; the overall goal for the marketing strategy can be determined & a marketing plan can be developed. The importance of developing & documenting your marketing strategy cannot be overstated. Results from the CoSchedule ‘State of Marketing Strategy Report’, that surveyed 3,599 marketers from more than 100 countries, found that marketers who document their marketing strategy are 313% more likely to report success than those that don’t!
What is a marketing plan?
While your marketing strategy is your overall marketing direction & goals, your marketing plan is the blueprint that outlines how your company will execute your strategy. A marketing plan is usually focused on a specific time period (i.e. yearly, quarterly) & encompasses the day to day work that a company does to successfully satisfy the marketing strategy, covering all marketing-related details.
Your plan needs to show what marketing activities you will carry out & when. It is not a static document that once developed is just filed away & forgotten about. It needs to be constantly reviewed & adjusted based on results from previous marketing activities & your new objectives. Therefore, it is vital not only to plan out your activities before executing them but to also measure their success in order to adapt your marketing plan accordingly in the future.
Why bother with a marketing plan?
Conducting marketing activities ad hoc with no plan doesn’t work, especially long term. Without a marketing plan your activities will be uncoordinated, with little opportunity for tracking & measuring. You will get little traffic & return for your efforts which will impact your time & budget. A good marketing plan will ensure your marketing is proactive & organised & will allow you to look further than where your business is now & plan for future growth.
Marketing based on a robust, up-to-date plan will,
- Help save time. You will know what to focus on & when as opposed to wasting time trying to come up with what to do next
- Make your efforts more effective. You will ensure you’re using the right blend of the marketing mix to target the right people, at the right time, in the right way
- Keep everyone aligned. A plan will help coordination & communication between departments as they will all be working off the same roadmap
- Offer better return on investment. You will be spending your budget more efficiently, investing in activities that have a track record of success & support your objectives
Great marketing isn’t something that just happens. Like most things in life, for marketing to be successful you need a plan, no matter the size of your business. It requires methodical & continuous work; there is no such thing as a completed marketing plan! Your marketing plan is a dynamic document that is constantly evolving based on your measurements & learning from your market to align with your developing business aims. A good marketing plan will make you more focus & successful, while making the best of your resources.