Marketing may sound boring to some, I mean… who cares about facts, figures, data and trends. It’s a business, however, much like any other business – except maybe more cutthroat in today’s online presence. Marketing plans are at the front-line of a very competitive war. Only, in this war no one gets to surrender.
In a world of hostile takeovers, buyouts, plain mismanagement and potential anti-trust issues, there are no survivors. If you’re not eating, you’re being eaten. You don’t want to be someone else’s snack. Instead, you need to pay attention to the smart way to market.
You need a detailed picture of your business, including problems and opportunities it’s facing. A good marking plan will give you this image, lays out what you think are essential objectives and ways to meet those objectives. It helps you lay out strategic and tactical approaches, and then carefully evaluate those approaches with sound judgment.
Everyone in your company who sees the finished marketing plan will have no doubt what the objectives are. They’ll have marketing, sales, expense and profit information. It’s written down; they can even look back and verify the information.
So how do you build this fantastic marketing puzzle? Where are the pieces?
#1 State the Facts
Note that the heading says “facts” not “things I want to be true but may not be”. When you note the state of your business in the plan, you have to be as unbiased and objective as possible. You need a clear understanding of any fact related to your marketing efforts, such as:
- Evaluations of your product line
- Sales history
- Competitive situation
- Target market wants/needs
- Business relationship analysis
#2 Identify Problems vs. Opportunities
Problems are generally considered obstacles. However, most problems can be turned into opportunities. For example, maybe your sales support materials are lacking in umph. This can be a problem, but it also gives you an opportunity to tighten the sales material, which, in turn, can raise conversions.
Recognize when you have a problem. Then, in true optimistic style, look for the buried opportunity.
#3 Identify your Objectives
For a great marketing plan, objectives need to be specific. At the same point in time, your objectives should also be conservative enough to be attainable. After all, a long enough list of failed objectives can make anyone want to give up. As well, it can be downright detrimental to your bottom line.
Therefore, when identifying your objectives, don’t stick to wide topics like “I’m going to increase sales”. Instead, narrow the focus. For example, “increase overall company sales by 10% using tactics A, B and C.”
#4 Shortcoming Recommendations
No business is perfect, and if you objectively state the facts, you’ll most likely find some shortcomings. At least one or two may get in the way of your brilliant marketing strategy. Or… you could add another piece of the smart marketing puzzle.
A strong marketing plan also includes recommendations for correcting those shortcomings. Evaluate other strategies that could be taken – like a Plan A, Plan B and so on. Clearly outline the pros and cons of each plan, however.
#5 Recommended Budget
How much is this fantastic marketing strategic going to cost? Where is the money going? No guesswork, here, and no wild suppositions; do your homework. This information needs to be as clear-cut as everything else.
For example: “$1,000 allocated to PPC per month for [SERPs]. Estimated 6% increase in sales volume.”
#6 Profit/Loss Predictions
How much will have to be deducted from your gross profit? Do you have a conservative estimate for your attainable sales volumes? The final piece of the smart marketing plain should include profit/loss predictions (or forecast, if you will), based on theses numbers. What are the conservative amounts for gross profit vs estimated costs?
You have all six pieces for a smart marketing strategy. Now what? Well, if it works, everyone will agree it was a fantastic strategy – and then forget to reevaluate. Don’t just look at the plan every year… check your marketing strategy every six months. That way, you can tighten up potential issues before they become serious issues, and always stay on track. Now that’s smart marketing!
Credit given to Myxi