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.
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.
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.
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.