The foundation of all good strategies is THE PLAN. How can you measure success if you don’t know where you started? How do you know where to start if you don’t know where you want to go?
WHAT A MARKETING PLAN IS…
The purpose of a marketing plan is to first build a picture of your company - who, what, where, how and why. While that seems straightforward, put it into words. You would be surprised how many entrepreneurs can’t succinctly explain what they do. By writing it down, your message will be clearer and you will identify gaps in your approach. After your foundation is strong, look at where you want to go and start plotting your course.
WHAT A MARKETING PLAN IS NOT…
A long document that includes a lot of nice words and statistics meant to obfuscate the truth and create the illusion of progress. These ideas are often impossible to turn into measurable and actionable strategies – and that is if management actually reads the plan, which they often don’t.
FIND THE BALANCE BETWEEN ENGAGING AND ARROGANT, PERSUASIVE AND FLAT, INFORMED AND GENERIC, ACTIONABLE AND OBSCURE.
WHAT COMES NEXT?
Write your plan, get necessary approval, celebrate and then start running. Pause to chart your journey and refine, but keep running.
As your market reach increases and your revenues increase (or even the reverse), you will have more relevant data about your business, target market and trends than any Mintel report. Information moves too quickly to restrict it within the contents of a formal business plan. The key is listening to what your clients tell you – they will give you everything you need to know – and then acting to make it better.
ELEMENTS OF THE PLAN
STEP 1: GOALS
Where are you now? Where do you want to be? How much can you invest for growth? Depending on your industry – and A LOT is determined by the industry – map your six month, one year, three year and 10 year goals. Take time to build your company’s foundation, plan and evaluate.
STEP 2: COMPETITION
Where does your company fit in the competitive landscape? Are there adjacents? What are your benchmarks? What untapped opportunities do you see?
You can use a SWOT analysis or Venn Diagram – both are still widely used – to help define your position and opportunities. Decide which feels right for your company.
DON’T IGNORE THE WEIGHT AND IMPORTANCE OF INSTINCT. OPPORTUNITIES AND THREATS CAN MASK AS SOMETHING ELSE. DITCH THE CHARTS IF IT HELPS YOU LISTEN.
STEP 3: MESSAGES
With steps one and two finished, you should have a clear understanding of your company personality, market position, target audience and opportunities. Now it’s about crafting your message. Imagery, words and colour are your tools.
This is your visual story and how your audience processes information, so be careful and deliberate.
STEP 4: SOCIAL
We are a little cynical now about social media for most brands. How can you truly communicate in 140 characters or less? Does it matter how many ‘likes’ or ‘followers’ you have? Are we celebrating impatience and pushing aside the lure, romance and anticipation of enduring brands?
Many brands have been built on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, but equally, many companies have spent time and money needlessly trying to create a following and only accomplishing a muddled brand vision. When you engage in social, you can’t do it half-way. Tweet, blog and pin everything even a little relevant. Then wait and watch what happens. Don’t be fooled into thinking 1000 ‘likes’ means you have tapped a new market. Only in rare cases can you truly quantify the impact of social media.
LOYALTY CAN BE AS FLEETING AS A TEENAGE CRUSH – DON’T TAKE IT FOR GRANTED. OTHERWISE, A YOUNGER, MORE EXCITING BRAND WILL STEAL THE SHOW BEFORE YOU HAVE BLINKED.
At MadLegs Media, we know that genius wins. Ideas win. Delivery on promises wins. How we accomplish those things is different now than even two years ago. Be nimble. Be ready. Be open to change and ready to act.
STEP 5: THE PLAN
We are giving away secrets here. Although we have included a sample template that MadLegs Media uses, there isn’t just ONE way to write a plan. In fact, no two plans we have ever created are the same. At MadLegs Media, we believe marketing plans are living, breathing documents that need to fit with your company’s personality and vision. Make it your own.
2014 MARKETING PROGRAMME: OBJECTIVES AND ELEMENTS
Retain and further develop existing client relationships
Position [YOUR COMPANY] to win new business
Support efforts to sell off-host services
Position [YOUR COMPANY] as a major [LOCATION] employer, committed to the local community