As corporate marketing and communications leaders begin their 2024 planning or look to reset their programs, it’s critical that they include a strategic marketing plan. This plan ensures that your initiatives align with corporate goals and, ultimately, deliver value to your company. In this blog, we walk through the steps to help you create a strategic marketing plan for your business.
How Do I Begin to Create a Strategic Marketing Plan?
When we are tasked by a client to develop a strategic marketing plan, we believe it is essential to take a top-down approach rather than just diving straight into the tactical initiatives. Invariably, we find that one of the first steps is to get executive leadership buy-in, not just to secure funding but to gain their confidence in the value the effort will provide. In order to do this, we’ve found we need to distill the plan and present it in a boardroom-relevant manner. While all companies are different and have their particular motivations, we’ve found most executives respond to clarification around the following:
- What is strategic marketing plan comprised of?
- What’s the point of all these initiatives?
- How do they map to and support our stated business objectives?
- How do they address our current marketing problems?
- What will it cost?
- How long will it take?
- When can I expect to see early results?
- Who is responsible for what?
How Do I Map Marketing Plans to Business Objectives?
First, you need to know what the company’s business objectives are! We have seen dozens upon dozens of companies attempt to deploy marketing initiatives with absolutely no sense of what the overarching business objectives are. Step one is acquire concise direction from leadership as to what the goals of the organization are, preferably in S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, repeatable and time-bound) goal format. Here are examples of bad vs. good business and marketing objectives:
- BAD Goals:
- Business: Grow our revenue
- Marketing: Get more leads
- GOOD Goals:
- Business: Increase firewall sales by 10% in North America through Q4 2024 by expanding into higher ed
- Marketing: Increase brand awareness across higher ed decision makers (as foundational to subsequent lead generation) through thought leadership initiatives as measured by web traffic, un-gated resource downloads and organic social media engagement
How Do I Demonstrate the Value of the Program?
Below are examples from an actual client presentation, where we outlined what the executive team could expect in six to 12 months with respect to intended outcomes. We have found it best to lead with these during a presentation to immediately capture their attention. Certainly, your intended outcomes might be different, but you’ll want to keep them to six at the most so they are easily digestible by leadership. Each of these outcomes came with a concise talk track, maybe 2-3 sentences to articulate the purpose and demonstrate the value of each component.
How Long Will It Take To Create a Strategic Marketing Plan?
Next, we briefly address “how does this get done exactly?” As with the intended outcomes, six bullets each with a 2-3 sentence talk track gives them just enough of an understanding to feel informed, without being drowned in detail. Again, your level of effort (LoE) and approach will be different, but should address timing, client inputs, some methodologies and all dependencies.
What Are All the Components of a Strategic Marketing Plan?
Then, to bridge the gap between high level strategy and tactical implementation, we present the comprehensive list of components that comprise a strategic marketing plan. Below is an example from a client plan, and while the list can certainly be shorter, longer or honed to your objectives, it must present a clear picture of the massive scope of a marketing plan.
- Executive Summary
- Company Overview & Performance
- Total Available Market (TAM) Analysis
- Competitor / Trend Analysis
- Current Customer Analysis
- Brand Perception
- Brand Equity Pyramid
- Brand Voice / Traits
- Purpose / Mission / Vision
- SWOT Analysis / Value Matrix
- Marketing Problems
- Marketing Objectives
- Marketing Budget & ROI
- Market Segments
- Target Audiences
- Target Personas / Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs)
- Positioning Quadrants & Messaging
- Customer Journey Mapping
- Product Line
- Pricing Models
- Partner Content Enablement
- Public Relations
- Organic Social Media
- Email & Direct
- Paid Digital Tactics
- Digital Ecosystem
- Keyword Strategy
- Content Audit and Mapping
- Content Calendar
- Optimizing for Success
When a leadership team sees all of these elements together in a single list, it gives them both perspective and appreciation for the expertise, commitment and cost required to bring a plan to fruition. Each element could easily require weeks of work, with massive amounts of data to analyze, and myriad reports to craft. Then, as each element comes to life, we’ve found they inform each other, which can then re-inform the overall goals. Put another way, developing the elements of a strategic marketing plan changes the plan itself along the way. This is yet another reason that having a single team of experts – organized and synchronized – to develop your plan has so many efficiencies and cost savings over the DIY approach.
Contact Us Today to Learn More
Give us a shout if you need help crafting your strategic marketing plan, and need a full-service integrated agency to then help execute your vision.