Must Have Elements in a Strategic Marketing Plan

A strategic marketing plan is the foundation to grow your business.

A key ingredient in growing your business is developing a strategic marketing plan.

Developing a strategic marketing plan is one of the most important steps a company takes to reach business goals and attain long-term growth and success, yet it is many times ignored.

An effective marketing plan supports a company’s overall business goals and objectives, with detailed marketing strategies and tactics answering the essential questions of Who? Why? What? Where? When? How? and How Much?

Who? Who is the “situation analysis” of your specific marketplace, including company background, products and/or services and the company’s mission. This also identifies key prospects by distinct market segments (Who are they? How many? Where are they located? What are their needs and values? What are their buying motives? etc.) Who also addresses marketplace issues such as: Who are your competitors? What are their strengths and weaknesses in comparison to your company? What trends, issues and opportunities exist in the marketplace, and what strategic options are available in which to benefit from them.

Why? Why focuses on your company’s specific goals and objectives, and what role marketing will play in achieving them. The best goals are S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, with a Timeline for achieving them.)

What? What is the “game plan” through which marketing objectives are achieved. This determines the best marketing strategies to be used. The key aspect here is company positioning: the key benefit or promise your firm delivers; how your company is currently perceived by customers, and how it should be perceived; and how your company differentiates itself from competitors. It also forms the basis of the creative sales message that will be the foundation of your marketing.

When? When is the marketing timeline: the chronology and deadlines for meeting each task, by what date, and by whom.

How? How is the actual implementation or action plan. It specifies which marketing tools, tactics and media to use, along with timing and weight. This is where most creative work is done: advertising created, news releases distributed, brochures developed, trade shows attended, digital media created, etc.

How Much? How much refers to the budget that is necessary to fully implement your market program, and how to best allocate funds for each tactic.

Benefits of a strategic marketing plan:

  • Encourages a thorough review of all factors that impact success for your business, and brings to light opportunities and pitfalls often overlooked by “winging it.”
  • Provides a powerful direction and long-range view to minimize impulsive and costly decisions.
  • Stimulates optimum use of marketing budget and re­sources.
  • Provides an accurate market-driven foundation on which to build operating plans.
  • Builds consensus and support with internal staff and departments.
  • Fosters coordination and consolidation of efforts; maximizes efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Empowers team members to take action appropriate and consistent with overall company goals.
  • Facilitates an objective evaluation of past actions and results; fosters increased utilization of strengths, avoids repetition of mistakes, and indicates where improvement is necessary.
  • Clearly delineates goals, facilitates measurement, course corrections when necessary, and recognition of superior performance.

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