When you’re ready to grow your business, what’s your first move? Manufacturers set the stage for profitable revenue growth with a Strategic Marketing Plan that identifies the who, what, when and how of marketing.
When developing your Strategic Marketing Plan you will take a hard look inside and outside your company. The process includes identifying gaps in how you go to market and deciding how you’ll fill those gaps. You’ll also identify unmet market needs that your product or company can uniquely satisfy. The marketing plan is the catalyst driving future business development behaviors and actions.
What do you need to know before getting started? This blog post is meant to help manufacturing companies get into the right frame of mind for developing and implementing a Strategic Marketing Plan.
MARKETING IS AN INVESTMENT
One of the most important reasons why smart businesses have a Strategic Marketing Plan is to increase the effectiveness of their tactics. After all, few marketing tactics are free. They are serious investments in both money and time. For this reason, they require monitoring and continuous improvement.
Good practitioners of marketing adapt what’s known as the Deming Cycle. Here’s how the folks at the American Society for Quality (ASQ) describe it:
- Plan: Identify an opportunity and plan for change.
- Do: Implement the change on a small scale.
- Check: Use data to analyze the results of the change and determine whether it made a difference.
- Act: If the change was successful, implement it on a wider scale and continuously assess your results. If the change did not work, begin the cycle again.
Fortunately, digital marketing offers marketers ample opportunity to understand what’s working and what isn’t and to make adjustments accordingly. This puts them in a great position to optimize their marketing investment.
In addition to money, be ready to invest time. Quite often a primary factor in the lack of success is actually a lack of commitment and persistence. For more on the process of developing results-driven marketing tactics, check out this blog entry from Affinity.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN STRATEGY AND TACTICS
Strategy is a broad statement of “what” your company will market itself as. If you are strong in product development, then you will likely follow an innovation strategy and be first to market with new technologies or products. Other companies select to develop new markets with existing products. Marketing strategy is all about your place in the market and the specific goals you want to achieve.
Marketing tactics, on the other hand, are the “how” you’ll execute your strategy. These are the promotional marketing or sales tools you deploy to grow revenue or build brand awareness, such as trade shows, event marketing, web marketing, public relations, direct mail, etc. Strategy dictates the selection of tactics.
MARKET DRIVERS AND OTHER INPUTS
Manufacturers need to look at the market drivers affecting their business, competitors and the environment in which they operate. Understanding market trends is essential to making key decisions in your marketing plan, such as identifying unmet customer needs.
Where do you acquire the right inputs? They can come from numerous sources both inside the company and out. Market research firms, customers, staff and suppliers are all good sources.
You should have a rough idea of whether your market is growing or declining. 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 and what it takes to differentiate yourself.
The Strategic Marketing Plan will help create the 30,000 foot view manufacturers need to chart their company’s revenue growth. It also ensures that scarce marketing dollars are invested wisely, results are monitored and adjustments are made when needed. Setting Goals and Measures drives the organization toward success.
Having a destination can be a very motivating factor so get going on your strategic marketing plan! Affinity can help your organization with both strategy and tactics. Give us a call and we can discuss your goals and challenges.