When you fail to plan, you plan to fail

Good marketing doesn’t happen overnight. It is a process that follows a well-thought-out plan to achieve specific marketing goals. Backed by research, a marketing plan can help you increase revenue and profits, rise above competitors, gain greater visibility, and more. While this does sound a bit daunting, it’s always best to start by analyzing your current situation.

 

*         Where Are You? – Start by asking yourself and your team members a few basic questions. For example: what does our company exist to do? Reflect on the company’s mission statement as well as past successes, past failures, situations you have learned from, etc. Then, dive into your realistic goals and next steps by conducting a SWOT analysis to review the company’s current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

*         Competition – Once you’ve answered these questions, it’s time to compare the results with your competitors’. How have other companies in your same market navigated similar issues? How have they modified their approaches when faced with threats? Moreover, think about why and how customers use your product or service. What problems does your product or service solve? If it doesn’t stand out, it’s time to assess the things you can do to differentiate yourself from your competition. Burger King and McDonald’s both sell burgers. Nike and Adidas both sell sneakers. Avis and Hertz both rent cars. What’s the difference in their brand? What makes you choose one over the other. Thinking about what makes your business different is essential to its longterm success.

*         Target Audience – As a business, understanding your target audience is vital. Start by designing your customer personas. Typically, every business has more than one target audience. To hone in on your top tier target audience think about a typical day in the life of your best customer. Do they live close by? Is distance even relevant? What is their purchase intention? Do they typically need your product or service right away, or during a specific time of year? What is the common thread; are they the CEO who makes the decision to purchase, or in a support role? Do they fall inside a specific age group? Ethnic Group? Religious Group? Google Analytics offers extensive data about who is visiting your website. You can find age, gender, location, income, education level, profession, marital status and more to help set your ideal target audience.

*         Set Measurable Goals – Regardless of what you want to achieve, it is essential to set goals to assess your progress. Developing a “SMART” plan encourages you to create goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and  time-bound. This approach helps you stay on track, identify and correct shortcomings, visualize your goals, and allocate time and resources wisely.

*         Budget – If you know you will have a limited budget, sometimes it is best to determine the budget through the previous four steps. It’s important to remember that your strategic marketing plan is an investment in both the short and long term success of your business. So, spend wisely but maintain an annual marketing budget so you can track what has worked year in and year out.

*         Strategy Mix – The strategy mix consists of the Four Ps of Marketing: product, price, promotion, and place. Each P has its own tool. For example, Price can be discounts, payment period, credit terms. Place can mean where your clients can buy from you; your physical locations versus online, or in other stores. An effective marketing strategy combines the 4 Ps in order to  establish the product or services’ position within the market.

 

Don’t rush through this process. It’s a big deal and when done correctly, it reaps great rewards!

We’re always interested in hearing from others about their planning process. What are you doing to ensure that your marketing efforts are delivering the results you’re looking for? Let us know at creative@sileskymarketing.com.

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