What Is A Strategic Marketing Plan?
Everyone knows the saying “if you fail to plan, you’ve planned to fail”. As cliche and overused as it is, we unfortunately still find ourselves in a position where half-baked business plans are created to simply check a box. Every year as we move towards the holiday season that sinking feeling begins to set in as we look at the year ahead. Business plans are being drawn, budgets are being set, however, the most critical plan goes completely overlooked.
We’re talking about your strategic marketing plan of course…
You know the thing you’ve totally done sooo many times…
Oh wait, you’ve never written one?
Well, you’re not alone. Most businesses honestly don’t even know what one looks like and chances are if you have written one that it wasn’t very helpful in pushing your business towards its goals.
So what the heck is a Strategic Marketing Plan?
A Strategic Marketing Plan is a living document that defines the specifics of a business’s marketing strategy. From buyer persona development to product positioning and messaging, the strategic marketing plan gives all-encompassing details so that a marketing team can pick up the plan and understand how to move forward with a stable flow of business for the company.
We find management and operation teams spending hours and hours planning for their future with sales goals, growth metrics, and production numbers but when it gets to the nitty-gritty of how they’re going to meet these goals they rush through it, oftentimes with the idea of “how can we really plan for marketing efforts? They kind of just happen.”
The reality is it simply doesn’t work that way. What we’ve found is that business leaders and planners simply don’t know how to effectively plan for marketing. Now don’t get us wrong, this isn’t a dig at anyone. This simply isn’t something that is taught in school, and for that reason, it’s just glossed over a year after year when it comes to strategic planning.
So what all goes into a professionally written strategic marketing plan?
Bench Marking: Take a snapshot of where you are today. What’s going right, what’s going wrong, and what direction you are headed. The first step to moving forward is understanding where you are today. This can start to be unpacked using questions like:
- How many customers do you currently serve?
- What’s your average transaction value?
- What length of time do you retain customers?
Primary Goal Setting: Setting goals allows you to create a framework for the marketing efforts you will be implementing. These goals can be set by taking a historical look at your business and setting a precedent for the future. These goals can start to take form by asking yourself:
- I want to… (desired action: Grow, Expand, Increase)
- Specific Desired Outcome… (example: topline revenue by 20%)
Marketing & Sales Process: Reviewing your current marketing and sales processes can expose bottlenecks and help make your operation more efficient. Questions to work through when trying to understand your current processes might be:
- How do you currently generate qualified leads?
- What is your typical customer acquisition process from start to finish?
- Are there any seasonal patterns that impact your sales process?
Setting Marketing Funnels
Getting a very solid outline of your marketing funnel can allow you to create content that fits each customer as they walk through their journey with your brand. Establishing your funnel tiers can be established by asking questions like:
- What is your method of creating brand awareness?
- What is your primary Call to Action?
- What transitional Calls to action does your website promote?
- Does your automated sales email campaign keep your audience engaged on your website?
- Does your website have the information available for your customer to answer their questions?
The better you understand who your customer is, the more likely you are able to grab their attention by speaking directly to their problems. In a B2B scenario you may ask questions like:
- What industry (market) are your customers in?
- What role does your ideal stakeholder play in the decision making process?
Or in a B2C scenario
- What is the average age and gender of your ideal customer?
- Where does your customer spend their time online?
The game plan is a sequence and timeframe laid out for the execution of your strategic marketing plan. Down to the details of “this email goes out on this day and that one on that day”. This allows you to follow a task list over time and stop the guesswork of pushing towards your goals.
Tracking all of your marketing efforts is crucial to keeping on track and making sense of what you’re doing. Having a living document created to post your ever-changing KPIs is an easy way to keep your mission on track and the team working towards a goal together.
A true strategic marketing plan is a significant undertaking to create but is exponentially valuable to the future growth of a business. If you are interested in learning more about how your business could benefit from a professionally written strategic marketing plan, we’d love to talk. Jump on our calendar here, and let’s get the ball rolling!