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You Need a Strategic Marketing Plan

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The beginning of the new year always feels new. Like we are starting with a blank slate. It’s the time where we like to reset.

We create goals but we have a hard time hitting them if we even hit them at all. Why is that the case?

Most of the time it’s because we don’t have a plan. We count on the fact that our willpower can carry us to our desired result.

Desire is great but it’s not enough. Other things have a way of getting in our path and its easy to lose focus.

I’m certainly guilty of that myself. It’s hard to focus on goals that reside in my head when other things are popping up. You know what they say, out of sight out of mind.

So I write them down as part of my strategic marketing plan.

If you read this blog at all it shouldn’t be a surprise that I am a proponent of planning. I did write four articles in relation to planning last year (you can find them here, here, here, and here).

A plan takes time but it is well worth the effort. It provides great value as it is the path to how you will reach your business goals.

If I could give you a map that would help you make $10,000 or maybe even $25,000 would you take it?

That’s what a plan is, a map to meet your goals. It may be the figures I threw out above or it could be a figure higher. It could be something non-financial.

The goal depends on the organization but the only way you will get there is to have a plan. So, that what we are going to talk about today. A strategic marketing plan.

A Plan Starts With Clear Goals

You can’t have a plan without goals but I’ve talked to business owners who don’t have them. I ask what the goals are and it’s something generic like make more money.

I would bet that just about every business owner would be happy making more money. I know I would. And that’s the problem. If you made $10 more than you did last year would you be happy? How about a dollar or penny more? I mean, those figures are all more money.

You’re probably thinking that’s ridiculous and I agree, it is ridiculous. It does prove my point though. I doubt that any business would say, “I want to improve my revenue by one penny next year.”

The first question I ask when somebody tells me they want to make more money is, “How much more money?”

It’s not a trick question but sometimes people respond like it is. The usual answer is, “I don’t know.” This is usually quickly followed by a figure in the form of a question, “$20,000 more?”

My point is whatever goal you have needs to be specific. Better yet, it needs to be SMART which is:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Based

When I sit down and plan, whether it is for myself or for a client, the first thing I want to know is what are the goals.

A strategic marketing plan has to be tied back to business goals.

I’ll give you an example. One of my goals for 2020 is to improve website traffic by 15%. Is it a SMART goal? Let’s take a look.

It’s specific and measurable. I know the figure that I would need for it to grow 15%. My website traffic grew by over 100% last year so 15% is reasonable. It’s relevant to my business. Finally, it’s time-based as I know I need to achieve this figure by the end of 2020.

I have that goal in writing. It’s in the planning template that I use and it’s in my business plan document in two places. It’s part of the goals section but maybe, more importantly, it’s in the executive summary of the plan. I have the executive summary printed out and sitting in front of me on my desk so I can review it daily.

Research has shown that we are more likely to work towards our goals when they are written down.

Now it’s your turn. Think of what the goals are for your organization.

I have eleven business goals for 2020. I wouldn’t suggest more than twelve.

Are your goals SMART? If not, you have a little work to do. Once you have your SMART goals write them down.

A Plan Is A Map

If you don’t have a plan it is going to be hard if not impossible to get to where you want to go. In this case, we know it’s towards business goals.

Imagine that you have some time off and want to go on a vacation. There are some things you need to know such as:

  • Where am I going on vacation?
  • What am I going to do while on vacation?
  • How long am I going to be there?
  • When am I leaving?
  • When am I returning?
  • What kind of clothes do I need to take?
  • What’s my budget?

We could probably add more to the list but you get the idea. You need all those things to plan your vacation. You’re not just going to hop in the car and drive until you run out of gas which will be designated your vacation spot.

If I’m driving to Seattle I need to know the best way to get Seattle and it’s not through Phoenix.

Can I get to Seattle from Phoenix? Sure but I’m going to add about 36 hours to the trip. Compare that to the slightly over 7 hours from where I’m at now.

Both routes work but one is more desirable than the other.

Think of your plan as a road map. It is going to help you get from point A to point B.

What Should Be In A Strategic Marketing Plan?

I didn’t come up with my strategic marketing plan template from scratch.

It is a combination of what is done at Spin Sucks for their 30-Day Communications Challenge, information from the book that inspired them, Traction, and some of my own ideas.

I break my plan into two sections: Business and Marketing/Public Relations.

I do this because I need to first know about the business before we can get down to creating the marketing piece. Any marketing or public relations that is done should always tie back to business goals. I think I said that earlier but it was worth saying again.

The business section has information such as an organization’s values, mission statement, where they want to be in ten years and in three years, a list of business differentiators, issues, the target market, and of course the goals for the current year.

I actually have a few more items in the business section but you get the idea. If you follow the links at the beginning you’ll see a couple of them. Bottom line, I want to know as much as I can about an organization. And yes, I use the same template for myself that I use for my clients.

If you already know the information, it makes it easier because you can review and tweak versus creating everything from scratch.

The Marketing/Public Relations section has information such as my marketing goals, marketing objectives, the strategy, and the tactics I am going to use.

If you read my blog you know that I use the PESO model which is:

  • Paid Media
  • Earned Media
  • Shared Media
  • Owned Media

I have tactics that I use in each of those areas. Where and why I’m running digital ads, where I want to place articles, how I’m going to use social media, and what type of posts I’m going to create and their function.

That’s an example from each area. I actually have anywhere from four to ten tactics for each area. This year I am placing a big focus on owned media so that section is loaded up on tactics.

If you are planning on your own, I would suggest that you read Traction. It’s been a valuable resource for me not just for planning but for running a business as well.

Don’t want to go it alone? One of our core services is creating strategic marketing plans. If you need or want help, reach out and contact us. We would be happy to talk about how we can help you because we love to plan.

Final Thoughts

I was reading an article a few days ago that likened the new year to a fresh slate. We are always excited for the new year. Take that enthusiasm and embrace it.

This an opportunity to move forward or you can stay stuck in the same place.

We have moved into a new decade. It’s out with the old and in with the new and that means it’s time for a strategic marketing plan.

Shane Carpenter
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