A great way to drive home the importance of having a marketing plan is to imagine you’re sitting in your dream car, but with one little caveat… the windows are all painted black and there are no gauges. You push the pedal to floor and zoom, zoom, away you go! What do you think is going to happen next? Certainly, you’re going to crash-not a pretty picture.
Are you surprised to know that many businesses operate their marketing efforts similar to this scenario?
They send out a few postcard campaigns and direct mailings, invest in a website, make a few signs and counter displays-oh yeah-and don’t forget about the pretty brochures with a picture of their building, their logo and tons of content with no action steps.
I’m not trying to sound cynical, but I hate to see good money being tossed down the drain because there isn’t even a basic marketing plan in place. Or maybe there’s a plan, but it’s being implemented without, testing, tracking or benchmarks for improvement.
When Was The Last Time You Reviewed Your Plan? I’m sure it’s a part of your regular operations, right? Generally speaking, developing a marketing plan is undertaken as part of the yearly planning process. It should also be used when you want to introduce new products & services; enter new markets; opening a new location, or when you’re using new strategy to fix an existing problem.
Use this outline to ensure success at your next planning meeting. It’s a Five Step Marketing Plan.
Step 1: Purpose & Mission (“Where do you want to go?”)
Create a summary of your market position & goals. Write out a clear statement of the purpose of your business, your chief product or service along with the problems that you help solve that other people will pay to make go away?
If I asked your employees what your company mission is, what would they say? It might be a good action step for you to take? You may be surprised with the answers you get.
I’m not talking about some 150 word mission statement that’s on a plaque in your office. I am taking about a clear vision and focus that can be explained and repeated easily. The shorter the better.
Step 2: Situational Analysis (“Where are you now? What’s working and what needs to be improved?”) Here’s are the major parts of step 2:
Do Your Research to gain a competitive edge.
Product Analysis – What stage in the product life cycle are your products? New, Growing, Mature, Declining?
Target Market Analysis – Profile your customers using Demographics – Statistics; and Psychographics – Behaviors.
Customer Analysis – Find out how customers react to your quality & price; service & delivery; image & brand-everything that influences their purchasing decision. To discover what they think just ask them. Make personal calls or send surveys via e-mail or postcards.
Distribution Analysis – What are your channels of distribution? Retail, Wholesale, Internet direct, Distributors, Sales Rep network, Mass Merchants?
Competitor Analysis – There are direct and indirect competitors. Direct is an actual competitor that offers the same solution. An Indirect competitor is something that competes for your same dollars. For example, if you sell copiers an indirect competitor might be new office furniture.
SWOT Analysis – Of course, Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
Industry Analysis – How to you rate against others in your industry? Above or below average?
External Environment and Trends – Consider Market Factors, Political factors, Legal Factors, Economic Factors, Technological Factors? Social and Cultural Factors?
Financial Analysis – Are you making a profit? What are your primary financial ratios telling you? Can you identify any trends?
Let’s review what we’ve covered so far: Use the 4-Question System to measure performance of your promotions. And we’re in the middle of the 5-step Marketing Plan, Step one: Purpose & Mission. Step two was your Situation Analysis.
Post your comments or questions below. Thanks!