Define the mission.
There are many tried and true ways to market products to potential customers, and new methods are arising every day, some mere fads like the plethora of Facebook funnel courses, while others are powerful and insightful. However, all of these approaches are merely tactics. With tactics, you can win a battle, but not a war. You may win a customer and make a profit, but have you considered market trends and lifetime customer value? Your days of profiting without a plan are likely to be short-lived. To prevail in the long term and bring your project to its full potential, you need a comprehensive strategy developed using rigorous best practices. Let's consider the benefits of creating a strategy and then discuss how to make a strategic marketing plan that can bring your business to a broader market.
Benefits Of A Strategic Marketing Plan
While creating a marketing plan has the noticeable general useful feature of guiding and prioritizing efforts, Philip Kotler of the Kellog Graduate school observes that it also has broader institutional benefits. The process will involve setting and defining goals, communicating them across teams, defining and measuring progress, improving metrics, and taking corrective action when efforts do not meet objectives.
Planning and following through to make sure plans are developed and revised to take new information into account creates a good structure for management. Oxford's Malcolm McDonald provides much information in his courses to help marketing professionals "manage up" and lead organizations by teaching concepts like "how to demonstrate shareholder value" and how to demonstrate the value of marketing to accountants.
In his book, Marketing Plans, which has sold half a million copies, McDonald explains several advantages that creating a plan should bring you. You could also consider them as goals during your planning process. If your marketing plan is not doing these things for you, it is missing something. Four of the benefits apply to your product and your ideas for reaching consumers. Four are institutional benefits - internal changes that make the company more productive.
Product and Marketing Activity Benefits
Concerning product and action, a marketing plan should:
- Help identify sources of competitive advantage,
- Set objectives and strategies,
- Spell out the desired mix of products and services, and
- Inform potential customers.
Notice here that McDonald encourages marketing leaders to take the reigns and determine the product mix. In his marketing plan course, he explains the importance of dividing your potential customers into segments and understanding at a deep level who your customers are. One of his key takeaways from decades of experience as both a corporate leader and academic researcher is obvious: it is easiest to sell people precisely what they want. So don't try to sell everything to everyone. Set your sights on selling the perfect thing to the ideal customer. The Pareto principle suggests that 80 percent of results come from 20 percent of effort, so the key is to find that 20 percent and focus there.
The marketing plan should reveal not only how to sell, but what to sell and to whom. To do otherwise is to put the cart before the horse. So the plan will go far beyond merely identifying ways to reach a customer. Moreover, the planning process won't stop asking who the customer is and what they won't either.
McDonald's planning process will take you to that follow-through where you are acting as a change agent, carrying a clear message, and modifying culture and management approaches. Your plan should promote positive change in your organization. In particular, aim to:
- Help direct an organized path towards a recognized goal
- Gain commitment to the target across the organization
- Help ensure consistent relationships
- Get resources allocated to reach the goals by demonstrating shareholder value
If you are operating without a plan, you might be winning some profits with tactics today, but you are leaving money on the table in the long term. Moreover, you might be just floating up in a rising tide that lifts all boats. When the competition gets tough, you may be unprepared. A good marketing plan will identify the low hanging fruit and guide your entire organization's efforts to reach the maximum net results of the expenditure versus revenue. If the going gets rough, you will have a competitive advantage that you may need to survive and thrive.
Step By Step Guide To Writing A Marketing Plan From The Original Expert
To paraphrase Isaac Newton, if you want to see far, stand on the shoulders of a giant. Kids today put much flashy faddish content about tactics, sometimes even strategy. Also, they may offer a bit of insight. However, these new self-styled gurus don't compare to a source of true wisdom, like Professor Malcolm McDonald, who wrote the book on the subject, the renowned bestseller succinctly entitled Marketing Plans, now in its 7th edition with over half a million copies sold. It is popular because the method works. So it works because it is based on McDonald's decades of experience as both an academic researcher and a Fortune Five Hundred corporate leader.
Now McDonald has condensed the most valuable insights in his textbook into a short 10-module course entitled How to Write a Proper Strategic Marketing Plan. Each module includes a video lecture with an accompanying PDF that provides for worksheets that you can fill out to guide you as you create your strategy. They also contain very detailed numerical real-life examples. The content Is not just vague fluff. McDonald tells you the theory and then shows you where the rubber hits the road.
Whether you are seasoned marketer, an executive or an entrepreneur, this course will provide you essential insights to help your organization reach its goals. Commit a few hours to take the "How to Write a Proper Strategic Marketing Plan" course and discover powerful tools to help your business succeed. You will find that your investment will pay off many times over.
If you are short of time you can study some principles of Marketing Planning in our Marketing Strategy Academy Short Course .