A Guide to Strategic Marketing – Part 3

Standard

As a holiday gift to all my loyal readers, I present the final chapter of my guide to strategic marketing.  This piece focuses on the elements that make up a strategic marketing plan, and how to think about each of them.  As with the other pieces, I hope you find it helpful as you plan for 2014. 

(As a side-note stay tuned to this space for plenty of excitement in 2014.)

And now, without further ado, I present:

A Guide to Strategic Marketing – Part 3:  The Elements of a Strategic Marketing Plan

Goals and Objectives:

Start your strategic marketing plan by defining your business goals and establishing your marketing objectives.  These two elements may seem the same, but in fact are quite different when it comes to developing a strategic marketing plan.

Goals are a quantifiable metric that ties directly into your business.  A goal is finding 100 new members.  Or selling 35 products.  Or building a database of 1,000 new names.  Goals are easily measurable because they are based on the numbers that will help your organization grow and succeed.

Objectives are qualitative measures that are driven by marketing.  An objective is building customer loyalty.  Or enhancing a brand reputation.  Or developing new partnerships.  Objectives aren’t as easily measured because they typically don’t deliver themselves as obvious numerical values.  Objectives must be measured by research, surveys or interviews.  Succeeding in your objectives should translate into achieving your goals.  But they aren’t the same thing.

Start your strategic marketing plan by first defining your business goals and then establishing corresponding marketing objectives.

Strategies:

Once you’ve defined your goals and objectives, how are you going to accomplish them?  That’s the purpose of your strategies.  It’s important to differentiate strategies from tactics.  Radio isn’t a strategy, it’s a tactic.  Building a brand by reaching a wide audience with a compelling competitive message is a strategy.  Think broadly when developing your strategies, and (when possible) try to tie a strategy into multiple goals and objectives.

It’s likely that you will want to develop multiple marketing strategies as part of your plan.  Be sure to prioritize them, and that you have the necessary resources allocated to accomplish them.  Most organizations should rely on no more than 3 to 5 marketing strategies in a given year.  By focusing your efforts on those strategies most likely to achieve your goals and objectives, your organization is that much more likely to achieve them.

Tactics:

Each strategy included in your strategic marketing plan needs to have tactics identified.  These tactics are the method by which you will achieve the strategies.  NOW we’re talking about radio, television, digital media, social media, direct marketing, billboards, sales collateral, grassroots events, and everything else you typically associate with a marketing campaign. 

Again, when developing tactics consider your resources. National television can help build brand awareness, but if your budget is only $50,000 you’ll find it won’t get you very far.  Consider the most efficient and effective ways to execute against your strategy when trying to define your tactics. 

Metrics:

The final step of building your strategic marketing plan is developing your metrics.  At the end of the day, you need to know not just if your marketing is successful overall, but what strategies and which tactics did the best job of helping you achieve your goals and objectives.  Develop a system of metrics that allows your organization to quickly evaluate the success of each individual marketing channel. 

The metric system used will greatly depend on your marketing plan.  If you handle sales through a call-in center, unique phone numbers may be a good way to measure campaigns.  If you’re driving sales online, personalized URLs or promotional codes are always recommended.  If it’s social media, try unique links and structured campaign windows. 

Measuring some objectives may require conducting market research.  Elements like market share and brand awareness often can only be judged by working with an internal or third-party researcher.  Be sure that before executing your strategic marketing plan, your organization is in agreement on the metrics by which success will be measured, and that the correct methodology has been put in place. 

Advertisements

A Guide To Strategic Marketing – Part 2

Standard

Continuing my series on strategic marketing, I bring to you today:

A Guide To Strategic Marketing – Part 2:  How  to build a strategic marketing plan.

Building a strong strategic marketing plan is not always as easy as it seems.  What may seem obvious (what are our business goals?) may be more complex once you step into the process.  It’s important to follow a few key steps as you prepare to build your plan.

Step 1:  Information Collection

A strong strategy is built on top of reliable information.  This information may include understanding your competition, knowing your supply chain, insights into your target audience and indentifying key partners.  Sometimes, information exists inside an organization that you may not even know that you have! The more sources of input that you have in advance, the stronger your strategic plan will be.  And, by knowing what information you dont have, specific strategies can be developed to mine that information.

Step 2:  Gathering Minds

Don’t try to build your strategic marketing plan in a vacuum.  Marketers may find themselves too sensitive to tactical issues.  Manufacturers may find themselves too concerned with operational needs.  Business owners may only look at short-term profits, and not enough at building a long-term, sustainable brand.  But, by combining all of these points of view, your organization can build a strong strategic marketing plan.  Get the best minds that you can involved in building your plan, and consider bringing in an outside moderator (i.e. a strategic marketing consultant) to help tie them all together.  Many times, an outside moderator will glean a key insight just by listening to an internal debate considering different points of view.

Step 3:  Write your plan, and establish consensus throughout your organization

The most important part of a strategic marketing plan is that it is actionable.  You may have brilliant discussion, but if it doesn’t turn into an actionable plan it’s time wasted.  So make sure that once you sit down to write your strategic marketing plan that you do so in a manner that makes it both readable and actionable.  Think Power Point, not Word for your strategic marketing plan – that will get you headed down the right track.  Consider a simple format, using visuals, graphics and a minimal amount of both industry and marketing jargon, in order to make your plan accessible to everyone inside and outside of your organization. Everyone who interacts with your customers, suppliers and employees impacts your brand, so it’s critical that they understand your marketing objectives and how it may affect their daily routines. 

By following these three steps, you will not only be able to build a strong strategic marketing plan, but help ensure that it is actionable as well.

Coming up later this week, Part 3: The Elements of A Strategic Marketing Plan

A Guide To Strategic Marketing – Part 1

Standard

When I’m meeting new people and they ask what it is that I do, I typically answer “I’m a Strategic Marketing Consultant.”  The next question I then often get is “so, exactly what is it that you do?”  I find that for most people (especially those not in marketing), the idea of a marketing consultant itself is somewhat vague – and then applying “strategic” to that makes it even more so.  I usually tell them that I develop solutions to marketing challenges, including making ads, coming up with marketing plans and helping organizations with social media communications.  That typically mollifies them, and the conversation continues.

But I want to go back to the “strategic” word.  What makes for a “strategic” marketing consultant?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  In a series of posts to come over the next few weeks, I’m going to present my to-be-patented “Guide to Strategic Marketing”.  Today’s first part explains exactly what Strategic Marketing is, and how I approach these marketing challenges.  So, without further ado:

The JK Squared Guide to Strategic Marketing – Part 1:  What is Strategic Marketing (And Why Does It Matter?)

Congratulations!  You’ve just opened a brand new factory.  You’ve come up with a great idea, built a fantastic product and have a team of employees ready to create and distribute. You hired an amazing sales force who is ready to hit the ground running and have set aside a budget for advertising.

So, where do you spend your money first?   Sales materials or TV?   Maybe a big public relations announcement and event?  I hear that internet marketing is really popular – maybe that’s a good place to start?

In order to find the right answers, you need a strategic marketing plan. A strategic marketing plan isn’t based on something you learned in business school, but an action plan that’s based on real-world experiences. It’s not filled with industry lingo and jargon, but instead contains “blocking and tackling” elements that start your business humming today.

A strategic marketing plan is the rules by which your marketing is going to operate. It will help you organize your efforts, make difficult budgeting decisions and ensure that all of your marketing is driven to achieve your business goals.  After all, isn’t that why we do this in the first place?

Coming soon –  Part 2:  Building a Strategic Marketing Plan

“If you only ha…

Quote

“If you only had 10 years to live, how would you spend the rest of your life?”

This is a question I asked myself a few weeks ago, when the Major League Baseball Players Union leader Michael Weiner passed away after a fight with brain cancer.  What struck me was that Mr. Weiner was 51 years old – a relatively young age, and exactly 10 years from where I sit today.  I thought to myself, “10 years, that’s not a long time.”  And I decided at that point that every decision I make moving forward will be in that context.  If I only have 10 years left, how do I want to spend it?

I thought of this today with the news of the passing of Todd Mills, the visionary behind the Doritos Loco Taco.  This time, brain cancer took him at 41.  It’s a great story of a grass roots push to bring forth a product from which he was never going to profit.  Just a fan of an idea who wanted to see it come to life.  This is the quote I loved in the story:  “Todd being Todd, he never asked for anything,” [a longtime friend] said. “He said, ‘I just want my tacos.'”  This after a reported $1 Billion in sales by Taco Bell to date.  Todd’s story is very emblematic of my “10 years” approach.  He didn’t want money or recognition – just the taco. 

Last night, ESPN ran Jim Valvano’s ESPY speech from 1993.  If you haven’t see it, take a few minutes to watch it now.  It makes me think, it makes me laugh and it makes me cry.  Those are the three things he encouraged everyone to do every single day.  And if you do all three of those things, as he says, “that’s a heck of a day.”

I hope I am blessed with many more than just 10 years.  But if that’s all I’ve got, I’ll be doing my best to live each day to the fullest – laughing, crying, thinking – and focusing on doing what’s right.  And if I’m lucky, I’ll make a lot of people happy along the way – just like Todd Mills.  (In fact, I’ll be thinking of him next time I have a Doritos Loco Taco.  Which I may have to make time for today.)

Daytime Downtime

Standard

Image

I don’t know about any of you, but I often find myself with some unexpected downtime during the day.  No matter how busy I might be, there’s always a few times throughout the day where I’ve got 15 minutes between meetings or calls – not enough time to really get into writing a marketing plan or analyzing response spreadsheets, but more than enough time for a quick bathroom break, water refill or ESPN.com update.  So, it made me wonder, how does everyone else fill that time?  There’s only so many times a day you can skim a business publication, organize emails or check Facebook (which is a work-related function for me, just for the record).  How can you make your “free time” in the day productive and engaging?

I posed this question to some co-workers over lunch today, and here are some of the things they suggested:

  • Get outside and take a quick walk
  • Research one of your competitors to brainstorm new ideas
  • Download and try out a new app, either for personal or professional use
  • Check LinkedIn for an interesting article to share on your social channels
  • Drop off your dry cleaning (which only applies if your dry cleaner is literally in your building – which ours happens to be!)

Regardless of what you decide to do to fill your free time, it’s important to stay motivated and energized throughout the day.  I tend to spend my free time reading local news publications for biz dev ideas (the “Business Journals” are great for this), looking through my LinkedIn feed, or composing a blog post.  (It’s amazing how many of my blogs are written at various points throughout the day, and then posted once ready.  Sometimes, those actually tend to be the best ones.)

So, how do YOU fill your daily free time?  The best idea that’s posted gets 15-minutes of my time for free!