Create an effective strategic marketing plan by leveraging insight
“At its simplest, strategy means knowing where you want to go and deciding upon how best to get there.” Wilson and Gilligan
How will your company perform in 2016? Proper analysis and planning are critical to the future of any business. As 2015 draws to a close, it’s a good time to reflect on your annual marketing performance and create or refine your plan for the year ahead.
A marketing plan supports your growth and helps you focus on the key marketing activities that will give you the greatest return on your investment. A comprehensive plan documents your market position and objectives and outlines strategies and tactics to help your marketing efforts achieve the results you want.
Analysis of previous marketing activities and campaigns will provide insight on how to align and improve performance to give your plan the greatest chance of success.
Below are the 10 stages that should be included in your plan:
1. Marketing audit
The marketing audit or situation analysis should examine the existing business model and look at performance over the last year. It should review the current position against the desired one.
2. Objective and goal setting
Whether you are looking to increase brand awareness, improve sales, or launch a new product, your objectives must be realistic, quantifiable and have clear time frames. Make sure you set benchmarks to measure success later.
3. Market research
What are the wider issues and influences for your particular sector? Were there any major developments over the previous year? How has this affected the customer? What is being talked about in the news? What are the specific challenges for your clients?
4. Market segmentation
Analysing and segmenting your market is key in allowing you to focus your efforts on the customers most likely to buy your product or service. Knowing your audience’s demographics and psychographics gives insight into the best way to reach them and will allow you to develop strategies to increase customer acquisition.
5. Competitor analysis
Examine what has made your direct competitors successful over the past year. Have they increased their market share? How have they positioned their offering to the customer? This knowledge will enable you to identify your differentiator and establish any areas where you could make improvements.
6. Value proposition
What is your value proposition or unique selling point? Why do customers buy your product or service over the competition? What is the key message you want your clients or prospects to remember about you? Making your business memorable so you stand out from the crowd can enable you to expand your market share.
7. Communication and engagement strategy
How are you going to get your message out? What communication channels or tactics will you use that suit your market? Conferences, white papers, e-campaigns, brochures, social media, PR… Which campaigns achieved the greatest success last year and how can this information assist you in setting benchmarks for 2016?
8. Media planning
How can you get people talking about you? Do you have regular opinions on what is happening in your sector? Are you regularly engaging in conversations on social media? Do you have key spokespeople? Would they benefit from media training? If you have already embarked on a social media strategy then aim to build on previous success. If you have not, it is never too late to start. If you want the media to show an interest in you then you have to have an established presence.
9. Resource, budget and timescales
When can you realistically achieve your goals? Do you have the allocated resource? What is everything going to cost? In an ideal world it is always best to set your objectives before your budget but if your budget has already been agreed then the best way to argue for an increase is to prove return on investment from your campaigns.
Did you achieve the objectives you set out at the start of the plan? How are you going to continue to track progress? What are the lessons learned and improvements that can be made for the next year?
Reviewing and analysing your annual marketing activities will provide you with valuable insight to enhance your marketing plan. However, while it’s all very well writing a great marketing plan, the most important thing is to keep using it. A marketing plan should be thought of as a working document that is continuously reviewed and developed alongside the company’s business strategy and sector influences.
It is not always easy to be objective about your own company and when you are busy it’s easy to let planning slip. Some companies commission an external agency or consultant to take on some of this workload. This can help get the plan that’s in the CEO’s head down on paper and shared with the rest of the business quickly and efficiently.
Marketing Pace can provide expert and practical advice to support you define your overall business strategy and develop an effective marketing plan. Our flexible way of working means you can call on our expertise at a time that suits you and your finances.
So, enjoy the festive season by all means but make sure you start 2016 with a clear and achievable marketing plan.
Samantha Rumens, Co-founder, Marketing Pace
Would you benefit from Marketing Pace’s expertise?
If you would like any advice on strategy and planning or any other aspect of the marketing mix please contact Marketing Pace for an informal no obligation discussion regarding your business and marketing aims.