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Hope is Not a Strategy, but Having a Solid Marketing Plan is.
Good marketing is no accident. It is a result of careful planning and artful execution using a wide array of tools and communication channels available today. And while a talented sales team is critical to the success of any company, marketing is just as critical, if not more.
As we enter 2012, it is likely your company or organization has developed, or is in the process of developing, a set of goals to accomplish this year. I bet that many of those goals contain the words, “new sales” and “increased growth”. But how many of you have developed a comprehensive plan to achieve those goals? Not the kind of plan that resides in your head and is unknown to the other people in your company either. Have you developed a concisely written plan that identifies your target markets, your value proposition, your communication channels, your metrics to measure success and spells-out critical deadlines? If the answer is no, then you my friend, are relying on hope as a strategy.
A marketing plan does not need to be fifty pages long, nor does it require a marketing degree. Regardless of the size of your organization, you need a well-planned, go-to-market strategy that reflects your company’s mission statement and goals. To develop a good marketing plan simply requires a careful look at some key elements that will help you focus on those market segments that have the greatest potential of impacting your bottom line.
Key Elements to a Strategic Marketing Plan:
Once you have your plan written, share it with the other managers in your company – even your Accounting and IT folks if you have them. You will be surprised at the amount of constructive input you will receive and they may even alert you to some challenges you might not have considered. In the end, your plan must be known and understood by everyone in the company to ensure you’re all working towards the same goals, using the same plan.
As a final evaluation of your Marketing Plan, industry experts and the authors of Marketing Management, Philip Kotler and Kevin Lane Keller, recommend asking yourself the following questions:
A friend of mine once said that, “Marketing is a process. Execution is an art.” So, while having a comprehensive plan in place is a big first step towards achieving your goals for 2012, the real magic comes with artful execution. Stay tuned for future articles on executing your marketing plan.
By Kandi M. Spangler
President, Vertical Markets
Identify the Company Mission
Conduct a simplified SWOT analysis
Develop (or reassess) the company goals based on Mission and SWOT analysis
Formulate a strategy/plan to reach company goals (plan to focus on specific market segments where the greatest potential exists)
Develop a process to implement and execute the strategy/plan
Identify key dates and persons responsible for each task
Develop mechanisms to measure results and give yourself the ability to adjust the plan as necessary
Is the plan simple? Is it easy to understand and act on? Does it communicate its content clearly and practically?
Is the plan specific? Are its objectives concrete and measurable? Does it include specific actions and activities, each with specific dates of completion, specific persons responsible and specific budgets?
Is the plan realistic? Are the sales goals, expense budgets and milestone dates realistic? Has a frank and honest self-critique been conducted to raise possible concerns and objections?
Is the plan complete? Does it include all the necessary elements? Does it have the right breadth and depth?
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