Do You Have A Marketing Plan In Place?

There is an old adage “failing to plan is planning to fail” and this has specific relevance in today’s economic turmoil with regard to the success or failure of a business. A well designed business plan is not so much a single plan but more of a fusion of a number of specific internal plans such as: a financial plan, a product development plan, a business risk strategy plan, a growth plan and very importantly a sales and marketing plan. Marketing and Sales are very closely entwined, typically marketing is about bringing in the leads that the sales people will follow up and try to close for new business. So indeed one of the most important initial functions has to be that of marketing and since failure is not an option then neither is the absence of a detailed marketing plan.

A well designed Marketing Plan should start with stating the main objectives such as:
Building brand awareness; attracting more customers; nurturing customers to buy more products and services; customer retention; encouraging customer advocacy (spreading the word).
The Marketing Plan should then address the question – what is the target audience? In order to get the maximum return on marketing spend, the specifics of who to target commonly using customer segmentation techniques need to be defined, such as:  age group, gender, occupation, education, location, buying history, family, single, size of household etc. If you spend the marketing budget on the wrong target audience you will run out of money fast.
The next question that needs to be addressed is what Marketing System are you going to use? Today the answer is more and more a mix of Offline and Online systems. The traditional offline systems today are just as relevant as they have ever been, typically these are: Print – direct mail pamphlets, packaging, merchandising, posters, banners.  Radio and Television advertising slots. The online marketing systems are now also producing excellent returns, these are: Email campaigns, ecommerce -website design, online discount vouchers, Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, Pay Per Click, and Social Media endorsement/branding.
But whatever marketing system you decide to use it’s important to collate and analyse the results. You will need answers to: Are you attracting the right type of customers? Are the customers you attract going away without purchasing and if so why? Are your tracking systems identifying the positive (or negative) sentiment of your branding as well as the monetary success of your campaign? Are you building a loyal customer base? This leads me to finish this with another quote: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” (Peter Drucker) but then that is the subject of a whole different article…
Keith Barrett writes about marketing and its importance for businesses. Working with companies like JBPM, he understands the power of marketing.