We could go into a deep philosophical explanation like others attempt to do but most of it ends up being just gibberish. To keep this simple, let’s first tell you what marketing is not. It’s not sales and the term marketing should not be used interchangeably with the word sales! Isn't that a surprise?
I think you’ll get this. When you want a house built, do you start by ordering some lumber and hiring a carpenter, plumber and electrician? Of course not. You begin a building project by hiring an architect who develops the plans. If you don’t start this way you end with a disjointed mess which is just what happens to most promotional efforts.
At ZAP Marketing Partners, we believe a strategic marketing plan is what develops the road map that leads to more sales by learning about the competition, pricing, potential markets and a lot more stuff you need to know. This dictates the messaging, positioning and branding. The creative gurus, designers, writers, advertising media, PR, web developers, printers and yes, the sales team, then follow the plan.
If you go to the creatives first and buy random advertising media you invariably end up with a mess because everyone does their own thing with no plan to follow. They may all be very professional but the end product is not cohesive which dramatically reduces the programs effectiveness by confusing your target audience. You need all of these services - but not until the blueprint is complete.
Developing a marketing plan is not the glamorous side of the advertising business as the movies like to portray where you see a group of creative people sitting in a conference room throwing out wild slogans and suggesting promotional stunts. It's the behind the scenes research and grunt work necessary to generate real results for any promotional effort.
When planning a marketing effort, promotional program or advertising campaign, don't put the cart before the horse. Be sure to start by developing a strategic marketing plan and you'll see more results with less wasted time, energy and actual dollars invested.