A strategy is like a road map. You could figure out how to get to where you want to go without detailed instructions, but wouldn’t it be easier to just follow specific steps that you’ve identified will make the path more direct?
A marketing strategy is the best way to make sure you efficiently allocate your resources and reduce uncertainty. In the long term this means cost savings for your company. You’ll experience fewer cash-flow problems and you can more safely make sound, rational decisions because you’ll have a better idea of what’s ahead of you.
So what are the basic steps to creating a strategic plan?
First you need to know where you are now. By conducting a SWOT analysis, you’ll get a 360 degree view of your company’s standing today. SWOT stands for internal Strengths and Weaknesses and external Opportunities and Threats. A SWOT involves listing factors that pertain to your company and industry, and brainstorming what positive and negative issues may be affecting the business.
Next you will need to determine where you want to go. For this step, you need to set out corporate goals. The more clear you are with your goals, the easier it will be to evaluate whether or not you reach them. Try the SMART objective approach by stating goals that are Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
After you know where you are now and where you want to go, the final step is charting the tactics for how to get there. Create a 12 month calendar of activities of manageable initiatives that will contribute to meaningful movement toward achieving your goals.
Once you set the plan in place, you need to execute it. This might sound obvious, but sometimes we get sidetracked and forget that we actually have to drive the route we charted in order to get somewhere.
Every couple of months take the opportunity to check out whether or not you are actually getting closer to your goals. If you’re not, ask yourself why. Perhaps you’re not getting the response you expected from a marketing initiative or maybe something is working out better than you anticipated. An on-going evaluation of your progress will give you the opportunity to adjust your plan and ensure you stay the course. More importantly, you can allocate resources to initiatives that are working better than others. This makes smart money sense!
For more information about strategic marketing planning check out www.ratiomarketing.ca