Great Marketing Plans
As I work with many marketers, I am amazed at how many do not have a written marketing or business plan. Generally, close to 90 percent of companies I work with do not have a formal plan. Most have a budget, but that is as far as it goes. You know the old adage, plan the work and work the plan. Unfortunately, most marketers are spending too much time reacting to the world around them and not taking the time to write down a solid strategy and plan. Demand generation suffers when it is not supported by a well-thought-out business plan.
First Things First: Analyze
Writing a marketing plan starts with a situation analysis. What products and services are you selling? What is the market you are competing in and how large is it? Who are your competitors? Where do you sell? What does your target profile look like and how do you reach them? What is your historical sales performance for each of your products and services?
After understanding who you are and the environment in which you operate, you need to conduct an honest and thorough SWOT analysis. What threats are out there in the marketplace or internally that could affect your ability to deliver? What opportunities can you take advantage of to grow revenue and market share?
Define Your Objectives
Once you have a good handle on where you should be targeting your efforts, you need to define a succinct list of objectives that will serve as an umbrella and guidepost for your marketing activities. You should never have more than six objectives so you do not dilute your focus. Each objective should be measurable and achievable. Saying you want to sell widgets in North America is not a good objective. Stating that you want to sell 1,000 widgets to Widget Executives in California is much better.
Once you have defined your objectives, you can develop goals that support each objective, like pillars on a stool. Each goal is a specific action or series of actions that will carry out your objective. Actions are best framed in an activity plan. This is usually an Excel spreadsheet that identifies the activity, the objective it supports, the person responsible, when it is due, and how much it will cost. Activity plans can consist of multiple layers. Each activity can have sub-activities that are assigned to a different person. But at the end of the day, all the activities roll up into the initial objectives. Activity plans also consist of sales forecasting by service, product, and channel.
Advertising plans identify where you will be buying media and what objectives and goals the buy supports. Merchandising and promotional plans outline key promotions and other items that can support related goals and objectives. A solid public relations plan identifies where you will be looking to drive impressions and how each PR outlet will support a goal and objective. Finally, your demand generation plan consists of all of the lead generation efforts you will be conducting, which objectives they support, and how you will measure and account for results.
Synchronize Sales and Marketing
Good plan management involves getting both sales and marketing departments to agree on the goals and objectives of the marketing plan and to have clear visibility into its execution. Plans should be managed and updated on a regular basis, always monitoring for results and changes that need to be made. No business works in a vacuum.
Marketers will be required to make changes and additions from time to time and make tradeoffs on certain events. However, just because you have to change direction doesn't mean you throw out the map.
Measure Success, Justify Your Budget
Plans should have tight budgets and solid controls for measuring the effectiveness of each objective. As marketers start to plan and manage their activities and justify their spending, demand generation will improve. A great marketing plan can lead to a great campaign, but neither will be "great" to your executives until you can show their effect on the targeted audience. A solid demand generation solution can show both marketing and sales departments which portions of campaigns led to action by prospects and can even measure how much revenue each particular initiative has resulted in. This is important when seeking an increased marketing budget for future campaigns.
Marketing has entered a new age with the combination of creativity, technology, and accountability. A great marketing plan, along with a demand generation solution to executive, automate, and measure much of the ensuing marketing campaign, will direct well-thought-out messages to the right people...and you'll be able to prove it.
About the Author
Jeff Pedowitz is director of professional services at Eloqua Corporation. Please visit www.eloqua.com
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