In a previous blog, I reflected on all the reasons some companies don’t have a marketing plan in place. In this blog, I’ll address some ideas to stimulate the plan development process. You can find outlines and question-based marketing plan designs elsewhere; my goal here is to present tools to help break the creative block that prevents adequate discussion on the marketing strategy.
Here then are four easy ways to begin that marketing planning process:
Start with the goal. How much of an increase in sales is expected this year? How many new leads will be required to make these sales? Work backwards from the goal and determine how many and what kinds of marketing programs you’ll need to make goal. You can get down to how many leads are needed each month. This ends up being a numbers-based approach to start, but once you divide into quarters and individual campaigns, you can start to get creative.
Perform a competitive analysis, including your firm. Create the analysis and review the results in a group. Discuss what each competitor must do to grow. Keep it all third person and keep track of each firms’ interfered strategy. Then spend the most time on your company, creating strategies to counter each competitor. Once you roll it all together, a tactical plan falls out quite naturally. How will we execute to counter our competitors strengths? In a saturated market you’ll want to spend some time determining where your new customers are going to come from and why they will make the switch. This will give you clear direction on target and message.
Do a “SWOT” analysis of your company. Once you have the SWOT laid out for your company, you create a plan by addressing every item in the SWOT and how it relates to your marketing. Are we capitalizing on each strength in our “go to market” strategy? If not how can we? Same thing with the weaknesses; have we chosen target markets to minimize our competitive weakness? This approach covers a lot of ground quickly and can yield a strong plan.
Bring in an outside resource to drive the process. Sometimes having an outside party lead the process and ask the questions can be stimulating. Moreover, an experienced consultant can streamline the process and help create a complete plan in days instead of weeks or months. This is an area where outside resources make sense and can make a real difference in the quality of the plan. Since you’ll be executing the plan for a year, making it right is important.
As with many business issues, there are several ways to solve the problem of starting the marketing plan. But it can and needs to be done. Each of these techniques works and can be worth a try in your organization.
How do you create your marketing plan? Do you have trouble getting started?
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