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Seven Key Tips in Developing a Successful Marketing Plan

Putting together a marketing plan can be a daunting process. Proper planning is critical to the future of any business or organization. When you have a plan, you have better control of the action items, budgets and resources you need. And you are in a better position to set things in motion.

It is key that you have buy-in from top management, down to the employee level. Top management can lead, but employees must drive the efforts. All goals should be realistic and have clear time frames. Without time frames, it is hard to put the plan in action.

There are many advantages of having a plan. First of all, it will encourage a long-term view of your organization. It will stimulate thinking to make better use of your company resources. From an internal perspective, the plan will serve as a vehicle to achieve consensus and buy-in which will foster unification of efforts. Team members can take action in concert with the company goals which will maximize efficiencies and effectiveness. Overall, a good marketing plan will focus on your strengths and will help prevent repetition of past mistakes.

What exactly is a Strategic Marketing Plan?

“There are three kinds of companies. Those that make things happen, those that watch things happen and those that wonder what happened…” 
                                                                                    -- Marketing Management by Philip Kotier

So which one are you?

By definition a strategic marketing plan is a written document that spells out the goals, strategies and tactics to gain and/or maintain a competitive position, as well as the results sought. A good strategic marketing plan is really a living document (and should be treated as such) that defines the action your business needs to take in order to achieve certain goals. A good plan should align with your goals and define how you will reach your target audience.

So, how do you get started? There are a variety of ways to begin, below are key tips that you may find useful in developing your successful roadmap.

Tip 1: Conduct an Overall Assessment
First, you should do an assessment of your current marketing activities and materials. Look at what is working and what is not working. Determine how effective your marketing efforts have been and what kind of results were generated. You also need to look at how your clients perceive you. You must become consumer centric. The way you see your company may be very different from the way your audience views your company.

Tip 2: Set Your Goals 
As with any initiative or task, there has to be a goal in mind. Without a goal, how can you measure your success? The goals should also align with your company objectives and should be specific, obtainable and measurable. You need to have a plan that is substantial enough to show a return on your investment, but it also needs to be flexible enough to evolve.

Tip 3: Determine Your Target Audience
In order for your plan to work, it is critical that you know who your audience is so that you can determine the best way to reach them. Some products and services are geared for a wide audience, while others target a more specific market. You need to know as much about your target audience as possible.

Tip 4: Perform Research 
Good research can go a long way. It is the backbone in how you determine and improve your strategy. Research is concrete feedback and without knowing these facts, you would be guessing about which steps to take next. This can cause you to miss your target audience all together which will lead to missed sales and opportunities. Research can be done through a variety of ways that may include focus groups, surveys and the internet.

Tip 5: Determine Your Strategy
Your strategy is your “logic” through which the goals and objectives that you have established will be achieved. The strategy will outline how a particular product or service will be promoted to your target audience. Marketing strategies are used to increase sales, drive brand awareness, launch new products and generally provide profit for a company.

Tip 6: Define Your Tactics, Budget and Resources
Now you are ready to take the plan to the next level in which you determine the appropriate tactics to utilize in order to meet your goals. When you choose the tactics, summarize what it is, how to implement, why you should use it and what you expect from the outcome. Also, determine how you will track and measure each tactic: what gets measured gets results. Next, you need to determine your budget. The best way to arrive at some estimated costs is to list the tactics that you have identified in your plan with the associated costs outlined for each. You also need to determine who will implement the tactics. Can the implementation be done in-house, or will you need to look to outside sources?

Tip 7: Evaluate Your Plan
You spent a lot of time creating your strategic marketing plan and you also need to include ways to know if your plan is working. You’ll need to give your plan time to work however. Some things will need to evolve and some things will need time to ramp up. Keep this in mind when evaluating if something is working or not.

These are key elements to consider when you are developing a plan. It should be built with an end result in mind and fit the specific markets you are reaching. It should also be flexible in order to meet the needs of your audience, because as we all know in today’s world, things can change quite rapidly. Your plan should be simple and easy to understand. It may look great on paper, but if no one can comprehend the plan, then it will simply find a home on the shelf and collect dust. In order to grow a strong company, you must have a strong marketing plan.

From an article by Pam Long. 

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