I was speaking with a client a few weeks ago about the appropriate order for developing and implementing a marketing plan. To me this is common sense, but it was a bit of a revelation for the client. He runs a large organization and has countless areas of expertise; admittedly, he says, marketing is not one of them. So he asked me to write the steps down for him so he could reference them as we go through the process together.
1. Strategic Planning. Before you can figure out your messaging and the appropriate ways to get that messaging out to your audience, you need to determine what it is you should be focusing on: what works, what doesn’t, what’s profitable, what’s growing, who your competition is, and how you are superior. These questions – and many more – are answered in a strategic planning session.
2. Positioning. After your strategic planning session (or sometimes simultaneously with it), there is a positioning session. Here you discuss your organization’s personality, services, audience, and role in the marketplace. From this discussion, you craft your positioning statement.
3. Marketing Plan. The strategic plan from Step 1 provides some large-scale objectives for your marketing initiatives. Now it’s time to add structure and a plan. Consider the habits of your target audience: how, when and why they make decisions, where they get their information, etc. What is the best way to reach them? Always include PR initiatives, and grow your PR list daily; know the reporters and press contacts, and be sure they know you and your organization.
4. Implementation. Here is where many organizations trip up. A marketing plan is not a static document that fits nicely into a file folder in your bottom desk drawer. A marketing plan is living, breathing, actionable document. It should be referenced, updated, modified, and circulated. Your marketing plan should reflect your past, present, and future marketing initiatives…. with tasks, due dates, and responsible parties listed.
5. Identity. For new or re-positioning organizations, the implementation stage begins with Identity. From your positioning statement come logo concepts, tagline, etc. Each element of your logo should have a purpose. The colors (or lack thereof), the font (serif, sans serif, traditional, or edgy), the imagery (the best logos tell a story or elicit a question)… should all speak about your company in a way that is consistent with your positioning statement. Keep it as simple and clean as possible; think about signage, social media bugs, and embroidery. Avoid gradients; keep colors crisp. And avoid too much detail; scale it down on your computer screen to test legibility.
6. Web Site. The first place someone will look to check the credibility of your company is the web. Your presence there is a point of entry; it’s required. The ever-changing rules of Search Engine Optimization favor a home page with content that changes. Give people a reason to come back, and you will remain top-of-mind; give them good information, and they will reward you with loyalty. It’s not just about who has the most marketing resources anymore; it’s about the value of the information they provide.
7. Social Media. If you put #7 before #6, you don’t fully understand social media. The primary objective of a social media plan for business is to get people to your web site where you can tell more of the story. 140 characters is not likely to motivate someone to pick up the phone and call you. An engaging website might.
By following these steps in order, you’ll get more bang for your marketing buck and will ensure that your marketing efforts are deliberate, consistent and effective.