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 don’t 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