Developing a strategic marketing plan isn’t always a linear process. Here are the typical steps we follow in the development of a strategic marketing plan.
- 1. Current Situation Review:
The initial stage includes a review of your organization inside and out to identify strategic competencies and what makes the company unique. This usually includes a Customer Analysis, SWOT Analysis, Competitive Benchmark (known as a Gap Analysis), Sales History and Trend Analysis.
- 2. Opportunity Identification, Target Market(s) and Strategy:
In this stage, we define your target market and determine an optimal position for your organization in the marketplace. Key marketing messages, a brand promise and tagline start to emerge by this point in the process.
- 3. Goals & Measures:
Setting Goals and Measures for growth will drive your organization toward success. Having a destination can be a very motivating factor. There is a lot of wisdom in the old adage that says, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”
- 4. Marketing Tactics and Action Plan:
With the three previous stages in hand, a company is ready to select the right mix of marketing tactics to support the plan. At this stage, it’s time to build an action plan of who will do what and when. This helps a culture adopt an accountability mentality. Examples of marketing tactics include but are not limited to public relations, web site, SEO, social media, marketing content, trade shows, e-mail marketing, newsletters, advertising, personal selling and lead generation events.
Market and competitive research plays a key role in the development of a strategic marketing plan. Understanding key attributes about your market is needed to make key decisions in your marketing plan. You should have a rough idea of whether your market is growing or declining. A growing market typically means that all boats will rise with the tide. However, many growth markets tend to attract a lot of competitors so beware. A declining market may indicate maturity, which is a market stage that is characterized by shrinking margins and heavy discounting.
You should also know enough about your primary competitors’ strengths and weaknesses to determine your position in the market. The key question to ask, “what does it takes to differentiate our product from the others?” Much of this can be gleaned by reviewing their marketing efforts and promotion materials. The ideal approach to research is to continuously monitor the environment rather than do it occasionally. You’re much less likely to be caught by surprise.
• Identify the market position and target market that offer the best growth potential.
• Enhance the effectiveness of your promotional marketing tactics. (improved ROI)
• Build awareness and drive consumer behavior.
• Improve allocation of scarce marketing resources.[/spoiler]
Pursuing a market that is outside of your core business is a great opportunity for incremental revenue growth. It helps reduce the risk of relying on marketing to one industry. Also, companies can smooth out their overall demand fluctuations by reaching a new market. The new market would be one that has production or delivery cycles different than the core business. Affinity can help guide your company through this strategic process.
Web Content supports your brand. Astute marketers invest in it because it’s an effective way to engage with customers and build a brand. Forms of content are video, newsletters, blogs, social media updates, case studies, white papers, etc. Regardless of the format, good web content should have a purpose or objective. Three popular objectives include: Position you as an Expert, build a reputation as a Reliable Business “Partner” and let your prospects know you are a Problem Solver.
Press Releases are a great, economical way to build awareness, especially significant events, milestones or happenings in your business. They also generate inquiries. There is a unique way to writing press releases as they are news about your organization, rather than an overt promotion. Like other effective marketing tools, the best press releases are directed toward targeted markets and the publications or web sites that cater to them.
Tradeshows are still an effective way to generate leads, gain industry intelligence, network with key contacts and re-connect with customers. What makes them so effective? They’re highly targeted and they’re one-to-one. To bring in a good ROI though, they require good planning, implementation and follow up.