Why Is Having A Marketing Strategy And Plan So Important? (Part 1)

We’re seeing an all-time high for start-ups in the UK, with new companies being registered at a record pace of 80 an hour. According to research from StartUp Britain (a Government-backed national enterprise campaign) 342,927 new businesses were registered with Companies House between January and June 2016, compared with 608,110 for the whole of 2015 (which was itself a record year).

With so much competition, it’s more important than ever for a business to market itself effectively. You can have the best product or service but, without marketing, potential clients may never find you.

Marketing comes in all shapes and sizes; from popping an advert in your local paper and posting leaflets, to having a website and a presence on social media. More and more companies are turning to the latter, known as digital marketing, as a way to drive their businesses forward. Worryingly almost half of companies using digital marketing don’t have a plan!

Regardless of whether you’re marketing online or offline, it’s vital to have a strategy and plan in place to set the stage for a successful 2017.

What’s The Difference Between A Marketing Strategy And A Marketing Plan?

It’s not uncommon for people to confuse the difference between a marketing strategy and a marketing plan. We’ve found the simplest way to explain the difference is like this:

A Marketing Strategy combines all of a company’s marketing goals, with the aim of increasing sales and gaining advantage over competitors. It’s drawn from a combination of market research and analysis all aspects of sales activity. The marketing strategy goes on to form the foundation of a marketing plan.

A Marketing Plan shows how you’re going to achieve the marketing goals in your strategy. It outlines a company’s advertising and marketing efforts, usually over the course of a year, describing the activities involved in accomplishing specific marketing objectives.

Strategy is the thinking (the ‘what’), and planning is the doing (the ‘how’). Both are equally important, after all it’s impossible to achieve the ‘how’ without first knowing the ‘what’.

Why Do We Need A Marketing Strategy And Plan?

Marketing is as important as your product or service, without it people can’t find you and if they can’t find you, they can’t pay you! To ensure you’re doing it as effectively as possible you need to have a plan.

Here are a few examples of why a marketing plan is essential to your business’ success:

1. Provides clarity on your market.It’s easier to find clients and customers if you know who they are.

2. Helps you craft marketing messages that will generate results.Marketing is about knowing what your product or service can do to help a target market.

3. Provides focus and direction.With so many marketing tools available today, it’s important to keep sight of your business goals.

4. Helps you establish tasks and timelines. With clear objectives it’s easier to identify the tasks which need to be done, and timescales for them to be completed.

5. Ensures alignment. Simple to check that your marketing objectives are in line with your business goals and strategy.

Crafting An Effective Marketing Strategy.

A successful marketing strategy depends on truly understanding your business and your customers.

You need to know who they are, what they want and why they should want it from you. Reviewing your sales data can help you with this, as can targeted market research and competitor analysis.

At the end of the process you should know where your customers are most likely to be (and therefore where you need to be), how you measure up against your competition and what new trends to expect in your market.

Creating Your Successful Marketing Plan

Once you have a strategy in place, you can get started on your marketing plan. This goes into specific details about each planned activity that will help achieve the goals set out in the strategy.

1. What’s your goal?

Typically this is to increase sales, but it may be growing your mailing list to a certain number or increasing social media followers by x amount.

2. Who’s your target audience?

Choose some of the customers you identified in your strategy (these may be potential customers or existing customers you want to reconnect with). Describe these groups in detail, think about where they hangout and what they enjoy doing, this will help you decide on ways to connect with them.

3. What products/services can you offer them?

Think about what product/services you might be able to offer the above audience so you can achieve your objectives.

4. How can we entice these people to take up the offer?

How will you get people to want this; will a well-crafted message be enough, do you need an eye catching visual to go with it or do you need to think about offering an incentive.

5. How do we communicate this offer?

What’s the best way to advertise this offer, being mindful of any budget and time restrictions. It could be an advert on local radio or in the paper, a social media campaign or a leaflet drop.

6. Rinse and repeat.

Go through the same process for each target market and goal you identified in the marketing strategy.

Marketing Calendar

When setting up your marketing calendar it’s important to remember time specific marketing. Ensure Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentines, School Holidays etc. are all marked on your calendar and think about how your business might add value to these.

Looking after existing clients, as well as people who’ve expressed interest in your business (by signing up to a newsletter or following you on social media for example) and those who you’ve identified as potential customers, should also be included in your calendar. Set out how (mailshots, newsletters, social posts etc) and when (weekly, monthly, quarterly) you plan to do this.

Remember to Revisit and Review

It’s vital to be specific in your goals (such as increase email list by x in 3 months, or find x number of new clients next quarter) so you can measure how effective your marketing plan has been.

Remember that a marketing plan is a live document that you should be regularly visiting and tweaking based on what is (and isn’t) working. We’ll look at this in greater details in part 2 of this article.

Overwhelmed? We Can Help.

C4B Media’s approach to marketing strategy is built on years of experience of helping blue chips, start-ups and everything in between. Our approach is simple; we’ll sit down with you to work out the best marketing strategy to help you achieve your business goals and aspirations.

If you’re interested in working with us to develop a marketing strategy designed to get you there, then contact our friendly team on 01763 877110 or click here to start your journey with us.

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