Put your marketing strategies
Written by Shirley Lichti for The Record,
August 17, 2005
is not rocket science. But it does require a written game plan.
Some of you may protest that written plans
aren't a necessity for your business. Yet I doubt many of you would
let your accounting staff keep track of your company's numbers in
their heads. So why would you treat marketing any differently?
Capturing your marketing strategies on paper
allows you to maintain your focus, track your progress, and measure
Many people mistakenly think that a marketing
plan involves only advertising and promotional activities. On the
contrary, marketing encompasses many areas, including product development,
pricing, distribution, targeting, sales projections and, oh yes,
advertising and promotions.
Each area is important in the big picture
and critical to have well thought out and planned before you begin
spending money promoting your products or services.
A written plan serves as a reminder of the
big picture, which can be godsend when you are in the swamp fending
off alligators on a daily basis.
Think of your plan as a road map that helps
you stay focused on your objectives.
New opportunities and challenges, which were
not addressed in your plan, are bound to surface. The better defined
your plan is, the better position you will be in to assess new information
and make decisions that are in line with your goals.
Not only can a written plan give you focus,
it can do the same for your employees. As a tool, your plan can
help staff understand company goals and empower them to make decisions
that are consistent with the company's objectives.
Plus, once committed to paper, you have a
record to brief new hires on your overall marketing vision and goals.
By tracking your progress on a regular basis,
you'll be able to determine what's working and what's not.
Is our new product launch achieving forecasted
revenue? Has our revised distribution strategy resulted in greater
market coverage? Is our most recent advertising campaign having
an impact on web traffic? Are the tools we've given our sales force
delivering the projected productivity gains needed to keep us competitive?
If you don't identify and track important
performance measures, it increases your risk of failure.
Your marketing plan needs to include quantifiable
objectives, tactics and milestones that relate back to your goals.
Clearly outline what is to be tracked and the procedures to be used.
Your financial department will also be interested in tracking spending
against budgets as well as the projected cash flow needed to implement
the next phase of the plan.
Lastly, accountability needs to be assigned.
Who is responsible for tracking, reporting and ensuring goals are
Tracking should occur on a regular and ongoing
basis. Depending on the size of your company, you should probably
aim to review your progress on a monthly or quarterly basis.
As you track your progress, you can also
tweak your plan along the way if you find that some element is clearly
not working. Be sure to give your strategies a fair chance (be patient
- results don't happen overnight) but don't make the mistake of
waiting too long to make changes or it will be harder to get back
Retail department store magnate, John Wanamaker,
is reported to have said, "I know that half my advertising
is wasted, I just don't know which half."
Until you measure the results of your plan,
how can you know if it was effective or not? Remember that the definition
of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting
Frankly, you'd have to be a little crazy
not to put measurement metrics in place. By measuring results, you
are able to prove the worth of your plan. This will make selling
future ideas to management much easier and will likely be required
to get outside funding from banks.
Although it's not always an appetizing prospect,
measuring the results of your initiatives also allows you to document
and learn from your mistakes. With data to show what works and what
doesn't, you can revisit past plans and make changes for the better.
Perhaps most importantly, having a formal plan puts you in a great
position to create subsequent years' marketing plans since you don't
have to start from scratch.
Creating a set of marketing strategies does
not have to be an ordeal. But, as mentioned earlier, it does require
a written game plan, which once documented, becomes your road map