5 Reasons Your Business Needs a Strategic Marketing Plan

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The emergence of new marketing platforms and technologies seems to have heightened awareness amongst C-Level executives that they need to dust off their websites and make some serious changes to their marketing strategy (or lack thereof).

Unfortunately, in the face of the changing marketing landscape, most companies respond with knee jerk reactions that can be expensive and ineffective.

Slapping on a blog tab and social media icons to your website, or stuffing your content with keywords – heck, even frantic Google Adwords campaigns – are too often reactive and not particularly thoughtful.

At MarketingWise, we recommend to every client that any major marketing initiative should be preempted with a thoughtful and strategic marketing audit.

Here’s why…

A strategic marketing plan helps refine your value proposition

What do you stand for?

How are you different from the competition?

What are your most special products, services and qualities?

Are you articulating the answers to these fundamental questions in all of your marketing materials?

A strategic marketing plan helps you clearly and meaningfully refine your unique value proposition so that it resonates in multiple formats, across various platforms – for all of your stakeholder groups.

A strategic marketing plan identifies your target clients’ pain points

97% of all purchasing decisions are initiated these days with an online search.

Ever wonder what all of those folks are searching for?

Most of the time, they are searching for answers to their questions, and solutions to the challenges that they can’t seem to overcome.

Here are some real-life pain points that we’ve helped our clients to articulate about their target customers:

I am wasting IT resources on reporting functions that should be automated.

OR

My insurance models are error laden and unreliable.

OR

We need better visibility into our sales performance management processes.

Whatever your business model, all of your messaging should start with a clear understanding of your target customer’s pain points, and a strategic marketing plan helps you to figure out precisely what those are.

A strategic marketing plan helps you create an editorial calendar

We believe that all of your marketing efforts should be content driven.

But not in an ad hoc, mindless kind of way. Rather, you want to coordinate your content thoughtfully and strategically, and align your marketing materials with your sales cycle.

You should always take into consideration seasonal fluctuations over the course of the full year and tailor your content accordingly. You also want to make sure that you are repurposing content in a way that makes the most of your marketing spend.

A strategic marketing plan saves you money

Most companies allocate 10% to 25% of their total operating budget on marketing.

Marketing costs money. But marketing well doesn’t necessarily mean spending more money.

In fact, a strategic marketing plan can help ensure that you allocate your resources wisely, which ultimately means cost savings and greater efficiency.

When you have a roadmap in place, you are able to prioritize and you don’t get derailed.

A strategic marketing plan identifies opportunities

At MarketingWise, when we engage with clients, we always benchmark against the competition and identify gaps in the market.

Sometimes these are difficult to see when you are mired in the day-to-day chaos of running a business.

By surveying the landscape at a high level, you are better positioned to determine the best opportunities for growth.

Your turn

It wouldn’t have taken much effort to extend this list to 10 or even 15 reasons your business needs a strategic marketing plan. It really is the most essential starting point for any comprehensive marketing effort. Especially when you consider the complexity and sophistication of new technologies and resources and the changing ways in which people consume information nowadays.

Have you undertaken a strategic marketing plan? Did you find it helpful? Do you have other points to add to this list? Share your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below, and don’t forget to tweet and share this post if you found it useful.

 

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21 Comments

  •    Reply

    Indeed, it would not have been difficult to list 10-15 reasons why companies need a strategic marketing plan before delving into social media and digital tactics. Yet, I think you’ve got the essentials here: making a quality, thorough audit to begin with, creating a content calendar and allocating resources accordingly in order to execute flawlessly. Doing this ensures 95% of the success.
    I think one important thing needs to be said: senior management needs to believe in this approach. And in order to believe, they must first understand. So there’s quite a bit of education necessary in order to get this show on the road, so the speak… :-)

    Cheers from Quebec City,
    Frederic

    •    Reply

      Frederic – ABSOLUTELY! There has to be buy-in amongst the senior leadership team, and ideally throughout the organization. If the organization is undergoing the process begrudgingly, it definitely defeats the purpose. Thanks for your comment.

  •    Reply

    I think you have most of it covered. Realizing that a marketing plan will make sure your efforts are not wasted is enough reason for me. No one wants to waste time or money.

    Another important thing you cover is consistency. A clear and consistent value proposition is needed for internal and external communication. In my experience, people on our own team drift off and lose focus of what exactly we stand for. Luckily, good planning helps refine concepts all around.

    •    Reply

      You hit the nail on the head Kiril – a good marketing plan provides focus and consistency. And in the midst of startup chaos, it’s hard to have either, even though both are essential.

      Unfortunately, marketing is often a secondary priority and when it comes time to actually pay attention, there is a frenzied effort to get up to speed without much thought or strategy.

      Hopefully this post will urge companies to approach their marketing efforts from a different point of view.

      Thanks for your comment.

  •    Reply

    Having a great marketing plan and a content strategy for your business will ultimately save you time, effort and dollars and will give you a better ROI overall. As far as content strategy, editorial calendars, content gap analyses, content audits will greatly help to determine the content requirements of businesses. A strategic marketing plan and an agency such as yours that help in coming up with such plans are downright essential to cost effectively and efficiently market any business today.

  •    Reply

    Having a strategy – aka a PLAN – is something I’ve spent years trying to get into people’s heads :)

    I think part of the challenge – at least form my experience – is that people (companies) see the planning / consulting thing as an added expense. They don’t grasp why they have to pay me (or anyone) to THINK and to “figure stuff out”. That seems superfluous to the doing. But I’m with you 100%. Without a plan you’re basically just reactive. And usually under the gun, too.

    Although I do have a confession: to date I’ve been unable to put together an editorial calendar for my own blog. As much as I love a good plan, I can’t seem to get in front of the idea of thinking months down the road when so much changes in the marketing industry. So there’s still improvement for me, too!

    •    Reply

      A few comments Carol…

      I do sense that it’s changing in the corporate arena. With the introduction of new platforms and technologies, it seems that C-level executives want to have a higher level understanding before they move forward with any marketing efforts along those lines. After all, why allocate dollars towards blogging and Facebook if you don’t even understand the business value of doing so? Especially for your company in particular.

      So in some ways, the unfamiliarity of these fast emerging platforms has made Strategic planning a more palatable imperative. I’m not sure that was the case 10 years ago when folks thought that a splashy website was all you really needed.

      As for your own editorial calendar – to be honest, we don’t follow a strict schedule with our blog either. But, keeping in mind seasonal influences (and I notice that you blogged about Thanksgiving and gratitude) at a minimum, is a good first step in pushing out meaningful content that will resonate with your readers.

      And if you are writing content BEYOND your blog – case studies, press releases, white papers, etc., all the more reason to coordinate your efforts strategically.

  •    Reply

    Without a great marketing plan Ruth we’re all just flying by the seat of our pants aren’t we. Especially for small and large businesses it’s important to know what you stand for and how to stand out from all the rest.

    I know when I first heard this I had no idea how to do this. Of course I’m not some big corporation or even a small business at that time. There is so much competition out there but if we look at it as bringing our own special uniqueness to the table then we can run over all the rest. But, without a plan in place it’s going to be a darn hard road to drive down…

    Thanks for pointing this out and you’re right. You could have come up with at least 15 of them.

    Hey, enjoy your week Ruth!

    ~Adrienne

    •    Reply

      To some degree, I suppose that a little flying by the seat of one’s pants is in order now and then. But you need to be able to refocus and not stray too far off course, and a strategic marketing plan is critical to that end.

      I know that with your blog Adrienne, you absolutely coordinate your content, map out guest blogging opportunities, repurpose and refer to older content – all of the right things!

      Thanks for stopping by!!

  •    Reply

    Hi Ruth, Great advice! You bring up excellent points. People often don’t want to look at their business with a magnifying glass that reveals their weaknesses. But that’s exactly why they should be developing a strategic marketing plan. Otherwise, they are throwing away marketing funds that could be spent on targeted, more effective marketing.

    •    Reply

      Exactly! We always tell our clients that marketing resources spent on strategic planning are always recovered down the road. With a more thoughtful and pointed campaign, you eliminate shotgun reactions that are expensive and don’t yield meaningful results. Thanks for your comment Carolyn!

  •    Reply

    What a brilliant points Ruth,
    This is my first visit to your blog and you are really doing a wonderful job here…….Keep it up.

    I can’t agree more on all you said here, its of utmost important for any organisation to have a marketing plan. This will not only save them some dough, but will also make things easy for them.

    Thanks for sharing

    •    Reply

      Thanks Theodore and welcome to MarketingWise! Coming from a ‘top blogging coach’, I’m grateful for the validation that a marketing plan is critical. Hope to see you back again soon.

  •    Reply

    [...] simply think it’s about having an overall plan and following through, so I’ll try not to bore you with marketing drivel. And if I do go all [...]

  •    Reply

    The marketing plan is an important document used by companies for planning. It is a road map and surveys the business environment, describes problems, threats and opportunities in the industry, contains a marketing strategy, and has financial projections/budgets. Do not confuse a marketing plan with a business plan. A marketing plan is concerned more with strategy whereas a business plan is more concerned with financial information. The primary purpose of a business plan is to raise money from venture capitalists or bankers; the primary purpose of a marketing plan is to provide direction for a company. The marketing plan is an integral part of the business plan.

    •    Reply

      Hi Ira, thanks for visiting our blog. We always tell those clients that engage with us for our strategic planning services that we are NOT offering a business plan. We are offering a marketing roadmap that should ALIGN and SUPPORT the business plan. I appreciate the distinction – it is definitely an important one!

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