Many start-up or emerging companies simply don’t have the resources for a full-time professional marketing staff. CEOs may be visionaries and know where they want to take the company. Sales executives are the experienced professionals who know how to sell. Neither one may have the marketing expertise necessary to accelerate growth and marketplace visibility. For those companies, it is critical to recruit marketing talent or hire marketing advisors who will work with the company to create, implement and monitor a viable, actionable marketing plan.
Marketing Plan Essentials
The essentials of a marketing plan include:
1. The company’s vision and mission. This is the reason why the company is in business. Everything else—structure, culture, processes, personnel, products, services—comes from this foundation. But creating a vision and mission statement is not enough. They have to be clearly communicated and articulated throughout the organization.
2. Corporate distinction. Know your competition and define how you’re different. Think of this positioning in terms of the value of your differentiation. What do you do better than anyone else? Why should someone choose you over your competitors? The answer has to be meaningful to prospects and customers.
3. Quantifiable goals. These can be established in terms of annual revenue or gross profit. Or goals can include other measures of success such as new customers, retained customers, specific product-mix sales or other company criteria.
4. Defined strategies. As an executive consultant Todd Ordal says in his book Never Kick a Cow Chip on a Hot Day, “Strategy wins wars, allows great leaders to run successful companies and creates enormous wealth.” Strategy is not the “what” of business success; it is the “how.” One approach to creating strategy includes the ability to evaluate, innovate, articulate and refine your value proposition and corporate distinction in the marketplace.
5. Tactics that support your strategies. These are the activities that relate to promoting the company and supporting the sales or business development team. They can include, but are not limited to:
- Social media initiatives
- Traditional media outreach
- Marketing communications content development
- Website updates and upgrades
- Tradeshow participation
- Email campaigns
- Sales presentations
- Marketing collateral
- Customer conferences
- Public relations
6. A method for implementation. This means doing the work. It requires allocating budget, creating a schedule, assigning responsibilities, creating marketing processes and a system for regular review and monitoring. When goals fall short, go back to the drawing board, make adjustments and repeat the process.
Good to Great Marketing
Contrary to popular opinion, good marketing isn’t about clever company names, sticky taglines or hard selling and neither is a good marketing plan. It’s about developing trust, building relationships and communicating the story of your organization to your target market. Great marketing isn’t for the faint of heart. It requires expertise, vision and an ability to adapt to a rapidly changing marketplace. So don’t be afraid to ask for help from a professional. An investment in a marketing professional is an investment in the future success of your company.