25 Oct You have to have a Marketing Strategy and Plan
I often see or hear about businesses that are proficient at planning an activity such as an exhibition, ensuring it goes well, but they don’t fully integrate it with other activities throughout the year, consider additional communications, plan well enough in advance or make the most of all the accessible media to support the main event.
Every business should have a marketing plan in place that supports the business goals, whatever their size. I have no doubt that most would like one, but they don’t always have the time to create and manage it. I am sure many businesses get to the end of the year, with their accounts telling them they had a successful year, but they are not sure how much marketing influenced this and if they need to have the same budget for the following year.
What is important is that the plan shouldn’t be rigid; marketing should evolve with the business so it needs to be flexible and responsive to change. Through setting targets, testing activities and analysing the outcomes and data collected, the marketing can be tweaked and enhanced.
Give direction, set objectives and plan activities
Often organisations are sitting on a wealth of information between management and employee knowledge, the process they run and data they collect to be able to develop a plan, it’s just the time and knowledge to do this.
The starting point, has to be gaining an overview of what the business wants to achieve for the year (and consider the bigger 3 year plan), the marketing activities that have been carried out previously and what they feel has worked well (and not so well).
Then, it is time to delve into the detail with some internal research using their data and market information. Understanding who the customers are, what the businesses strengths and weaknesses are, what it can improve on and understand the opportunities that are out there all need to be addressed. Additionally, identifying the challenges currently seen and how the business can help tackle these should be detailed. Don’t forget to include what the sales team’s targets are and any other objectives that have been set e.g. higher market penetration or launching into new markets. Principally, you need to understand the current clients to be able to sell more.
From this, you can then work out how to communicate the messages, the target audience and agree the channels to be used. Often activities have been booked a year in advance, so identify what has already been committed to and incorporate these into the plan as best as possible.
If businesses can define the actions and prioritise the most important communications they will have a more manageable function in the business. The plan should be reviewed regularly to evaluate and report on the previous month, make sure everyone is well prepared for the next few months, review key milestones and identify any gaps. This process will also better enable businesses to allocate company resource for campaigns and anticipate any recruitment needs.
Don’t forget the budget and controls! Without these, it is difficult to measure the success. The controls should be detailed before the activity and might cover such things as the number of leads or sales to be achieved, building brand awareness, the number of client meetings booked or the percentage of prospects vs. existing clients who attended your event.
What it can achieve
All of the above means that marketing can help deliver the company vision. Communications can be further developed and measurements put in place to understand how activities are helping achieve the goals of the business. It helps employees gain a better focus, improve budget management and help plan for the future.
And finally, make sure that internal communications are included in all of this. It’s not just the sales team who are your sales people. Communicating your plan to everyone in the business provides a clear picture to your employees about what you have planned, what services are being promoted, why and what can be achieved from the plan. This makes sure that any employee is communicating a consistent message externally.
Investing the time at the start makes the on-going marketing activities much easier.Back