Strategic planning is a process that helps companies formally determine their goals and develop strategies to reach those goals. While it applies on a company-wide scale, strategic planning should also be a key part of your marketing process. A properly crafted strategic marketing plan will serve as a roadmap, facilitating the trip to your marketing goals and keeping you on course should road blocks occur.
Step 1: Define your mission and vision
To begin the planning process, it is critical that you know where you are and where you want to go. A clear mission statement defines your organization and outlines the key measures of success. You’ll also want a distinct vision of where you want to take the company, although the planning process may play a role in cultivating that vision. A concise but thorough vision statement should ultimately communicate the result you’re trying to achieve.
Step 2: Embark on a discovery
Discovery is the key to knowledge-based marketing. At Scott Cooper Associates, the discovery process includes extensive analysis of existing or new research to develop an in-depth knowledge of the company or products and services being marketed. A thorough exploration of competing-company personalities, approaches, marketing tactics, etc. provides key information for the competitive analysis. Equally important in the discovery process is information gathered on the target markets. Analyzing the current and potential markets will aid in the development of an efficient and productive strategic plan. All this data is then analyzed to determine current strengths and weaknesses as well as threats and opportunities.
Step 3: Identify critical success factors
Equipped with valuable information on the competitive landscape; the next step is to define critical success factors necessary to reach the defined vision. Developing a clear, more compelling story than your competitors and cultivating name recognition are examples of qualitatively measured factors. Quantitative determinants like capturing consumer segment insights by modeling best customers and positioning marketing efforts based on the results of the modeling, could also be critical factors to success.
Step 4: Put the plan in place
Next up is the development of a plan to effectively reach the appropriate target audience. Good decisions on tactics, timing and messaging are facilitated by the broad and detailed knowledge gained during discovery. Use your mission and vision to help you staying on course with messaging and tone. Your plan may consist of a mix of advertising, direct mail, internet marketing, social media and public relations, depending on your budget. And don’t forget to develop a timeline for launches and measurement.
Step 5: Measure your success
Lastly, you’ll want to develop metrics to evaluate the success of each tactic or phase of the plan. Whether they involve website analytics, focus group feedback, or business outcome metrics like market share assessment, the use of qualitative and quantitative measurements can provide invaluable information. The data from these analyses will not only prove the value of the marketing initiatives but will also facilitate alterations to the strategic plan to accommodate market changes or deviations in a timely manner.
Developing a strategic plan takes time, focus and commitment, but it will ultimately lead to better decision making and more productive and successful marketing efforts.
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