A strategic marketing plan goes a lot farther than the editorial calendar or a digital marketing campaign. Scheduling social media, creating email marketing campaigns, or updating the content on your webpage is important, but the concept that goes on behind the scenes is what determines if your marketing tactics will be successful or not.
A strategic marketing plan is the description of the mission, vision, processes, marketing activities, and budget that guides the company's products and services to reach a target audience and create a competitive advantage in its market.
The strategic marketing plan should be your blueprint of everything that goes out to the public. This means, not only does it tell you when to post where, but how to create effective content for the right channels.
When you have this plan in front of you, you can create tactics and goals for the future. If you have already been reading this article, with no doubt, you are taking the right steps forward.
1) Find Out the Reason Why
This means, finding the reason your company exists and why you have created it in the first place, besides profit and money. This powerful statement can drive your company's plans for the future.
It can be that you started your company to improve community interaction and bring the world together, like Facebook; or you were willing to provide a computer on every desk and in every home, like Microsoft; or even, create a better everyday life for people, Ikea.
Most of the companies are created for some reason bigger than their own organization or next year's budget goals.
This reason why is presented by Simon Sinek who emphasizes that the "why" influences the "how" (processes, tools, platforms, and people) and "what" (products and services).
Knowing your company's bigger reasons for existence will drive your company to succeed. Below a diagram showing superficially the Microsoft example.
2) Define Your Vision and Mission
Vision for companies represents something ideal.
- Ideally how my company would be in five years?
- What kind of positive impact it will generate to the world?
It's more a way of exposing the reason why of its existence in an inspirational sentence.
For Microsoft the vision is:
To help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential.
Rephrased in their current website:
Related to Microsoft's mission, they show a much more concrete goal. The sentence is more down to earth:
Hubspot lists different mission statements below:
The "why", the mission, and vision of your company will represent the three main pillars of your strategic marketing plan. They will give you the basis you need to think about what your company wants to achieve and how it can achieve that.
In the next step, you will define the "what" and the "who" of your strategic marketing plan, which means your unique selling proposition and your audience.
3) Develop A Target Audience
It doesn’t matter what your company’s business is about, there are always certain consumer demands that can be easily deciphered.
This can be done by making a demographic target market profile. It’ll include important components like gender and income level. It has to be a meticulously designed profile that will, in turn, help you in deciding where to concentrate your funds and energy.
Also, it will clearly outline the probable demands that consumers of a certain area have. It might seem too minor a detail but the purchase motivation and demands can sometimes differ drastically in two different areas.
Some segmentation of your audience segmentation can be done by demography, geography, behavior, or aptitude.
- Demography: the name basically explains the term. Here you can choose your audience as the millennials or baby boomers. You have the possibility to segment by income or by stage of life, such as a recently married couple.
- Geography: Is United States your target? If you have a digital company and sell digital products, why not expand it to English speaking countries? Defining your audience based on where they live or where they consume it's also a good option, but it can be too wide, you may think about starting small, such as focusing a city or a neighborhood before targeting the whole world.
- Behavior: In this case, you may want to target those who are vegans, or who look for products that are locally grown. The way they behave when consuming a product or service is what limits their segment.
- Aptitude: If they buy products because they want the product to represent themselves or their self-brand, such as a nice car or a fancy grill they are buying because they have an aptitude toward this product. This is the case where the segment is the aptitude the person has in relation to the purchase of a product or service.
Hence, in order to properly gauge the efficacy of a full-fledged marketing campaign in a particular area, you must make a target market profile. Also, it’ll channelize your strategic marketing plan and help you concentrate where the chances of conversion are high.
4) Define your Unique Selling Propositions
When you are building a strategic marketing plan for a client or for your own company, no matter what type of business it is, you have to start with the basics.
After remembering the reason why your company existed in the first place, which will inspire your vision and mission, you should continue by determining what the company does and who it serves. When you nail this down in one or two sentences, you can guarantee a clear picture of their target audience.
Developing your USP
To be successful with your offer, you want to move on to determine the company’s unique selling proposition.
Odds are, with all the competition in the marketplace, there are other businesses that do exactly what your company does, which makes it extremely important to define a differentiation that sets your company apart from the competition.
Think, Why would someone order from your company versus your competitors? Define USP based on your target customers are looking for.
Although this was mentioned above, you want to make sure you dig really deep into your company's target market since many things will be affected by the audience, such as the product or services development, product features, USPs, price points, and many other marketing factors.
5) Establish Your Goals and KPIs
Just like with anything, you need to set your goals before you can begin. In order to measure if your marketing is successful or not, you need goals in place to measure and track. Set your goals.
You want to set SMART goals for all of these. This means they must be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.
When you create SMART goals, you give yourself and your client something to measure throughout marketing campaigns.
There are a few areas that you will need goals for: your website, your social media and online marketing, paid advertising and sales. Prioritize and measure them. Make it easy to follow up with your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).
Now that you have the company details defined and approved, you want to move forward to the distribution plan under the strategic marketing plan.
The way customers will find and receive your products has a lot to do with how you will be marketing.
Do you sell a digital product, provide a service or ship goods to the customer after purchase? Are you using a distributor, a client retailer, selling on your own stores, or selling door to door?
As an example, Warby Park chose to be an eCommerce company against every other glasses store. In this case, they send five glasses to the consumer and give them benefit if they chose a glass in the first batch.
On the other hand, Whole Foods had brick and mortar stores first but started opening their online eCommerce a few years ago, which was intensified after the acquisition by Amazon.
Currently, Wholefoods offers an eCommerce with fast delivery.
7) Create A Budget
A strategic marketing plan almost always has to consist of a proper financial plan. The distribution of funds to all the different operations of your marketing strategy needs to be decided beforehand.
Eliminate any doubts regarding the budget and try to distribute it how it should be. Distribution here shouldn’t be equal as all aspects of marketing strategy might not be efficient.
Concentrate most of your funds where you get a better chance of conversion and can score leads. Look for the low hanging fruits.
Keep checking your strategy every once in a while to understand where to spend the money and where not to. Try to understand what kind of advertising will be best suited to your company business.
After all, different types of businesses have to be promoted and advertised differently. Make sure that you make your client realize why a certain type of advertising isn’t good for his business and another is.
The more convinced your client will be, the better will be the execution of the plan. These factors are more often than not ignored by professionals and it results in a weak and inefficient Marketing plan. Avoid this at all costs and plan the spending keeping the probability of returns in mind.
8) Define Your Marketing Promotion and Communication
This section covers all the paid advertising that your company will take part in. This can include paid search advertising, Facebook ads, SEO, promoters and more.
Anything that is not completed organically through online marketing and costs money outside of time (and maybe some tools), counts as paid advertising.
You want to set a budget for the various paid advertising methods your company will take place in and define the different campaigns they will run.
After a Marketing plan is created and followed through with, you want to perform check-ups for your company. This is where you look into their analytics and determine what is working and what is not.
This will allow your team to optimize the strategic marketing plan and focus on the tactics that are the most effective.
Along with this, you want to have a section of all the possible offers you will be marketing and selling.
Define the steps a potential customer has to go through in order to become a customer. And then the steps they need to go through to become loyal, return customers. This is where you start defining your conversion strategy to turn leads into customers.
It may look something like this: discovery, research, follow, engage, purchase, enjoy, be followed up with and purchase again.
Every company has its own ‘flow’ that its customers take in order to become loyal and repeat customers.
9) Define Your Tasks and Timelines
Now it’s time to outline all organic, inbound marketing strategies that will be used. This included SEO, social media, blogging, email marketing, and your website. This section is essentially a calendar of all the marketing tasks you should be doing.
A great way to break it down is to list all of the online marketing tasks in the following sections: daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly. This way your team can take the simple task list and apply it to their editorial calendar.
Using the sections above, you also want to include a table of ideas for content that will be successful.
For example, if you tell your client to blog every week, you want to give the categories they should be blogging on and how often they should be covering each category will also determine the nature of your strategic marketing plan.
You can also include a section here that talks about possible and planned collaborations.
A list of ‘power people’ for promotions, guest blogs, and future advertising can be very useful for a company. This is to have to refer to when they need help promoting a service or product.
10) Follow Up: Constant Reviewing Will Do Wonders for Your Strategic Marketing Plan
In a nutshell, the key to a good strategic marketing plan is constantly measuring how far you have come and filling the loopholes.
For the entirety of the plan you need to keep in mind the nature of your company business. As soon as your plan strays away from the basic requirements of the business, it ceases being a good business plan.
Given that you are aware of all the intricacies of your company and what kind of promotion it demands, you are sure to end up with a good business strategic marketing plan.
Numbers are important when it comes to gauging the efficacy of any business plan. Hence, make sure you have the data to weigh the outcome of the efforts. If a particular plan fails to give a solid output in numbers, it is not a good plan.
Hence, it doesn’t matter how good your plan looks on screen, you should weigh it based on the output it gives. As soon as you see the output faltering, you’ll do good to meticulously examine where the problem lies.
After all, a marketing plan might appear flawless on paper, yet, its efficiency can only be examined after it is implemented.
Hence, constant reviewing on whether or not your plan is meeting the objectives comes in handy. It helps you in making changes to a plan before its too late and the strategy is beyond repair.