I am often asked why a small business might need something as high brow sounding as a strategic marketing plan? Surely that is only needed for big budgets, big brands, big companies?
I used to work for one of those big corporates and, yes, we did need a strategic marketing plan as we had big heads of department that we had to please and ensure that we were doing our job right in the marketing department.
Is it for SME's too?
Having said that, I firmly believe that the same principals apply to small business and without a strategic marketing plan you have no sense of direction, no clear goals to work to and nothing to measure against to see if you were successful.
Marketing should not be shooting from the hip and going with any opportunity that lands on your desk. With a strategic marketing plan you know where you are, where you are going and how your are going to get there. It is a ‘route map’ to achieve objectives such as higher sales, greater brand awareness, higher market penetration and every business no matter how big or small should be following their own ‘marketing route map’.
What does it include?
So what do you get with a strategic marketing plan and what are the real benefits? A well crafted plan should give you
An overreaching aim that you want to achieve via marketing activity. This can be long term over 5 years or just something you want to get done in the next 12 months.
A clear indication of where your business sits in the market compared to your competitors. Once you know where you stand you can address how to change that.
A proper SWOT analysis which identifies your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and this will generate ideas for strategies going forward.
Identifies who your current customers are and segments them clearly to clarify how they might be approached
Establishes your customer needs by type and, as such, identifies how you might address them
Sets out your objectives and makes sure that they are SMART (specific, measurable, accurate, relevant and timely)
Looks at your product offering, pricing strategy, people and processes and recommends a promotional mix to achieve your objectives
A timed and costed activity plan that you can measure against for success
Once you have this all researched and properly documented and agreed you can resource it accordingly. A marketing plan should be a living thing. I have seen, and written, many marketing strategies for them to be put in a folder and into a cupboard never to see the light of day again. That is definitely not the way to go. On the other hand, it a strategy should not be written in stone. Life happens, and circumstances change. A strategy should be flexible, and the objectives might change or the parameters in how you achieve them might change. If you review the plan once a month at a minimum and the activity plan associated with it, you should see where you are getting things right and also where you might need to focus a bit more attention if things slide.
Not everyone has the skill set to pull a strategic plan together but recognising you need one is the first step. If you would like to see how this might work for you give us a call and we can work together to set your strategy in place.
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