Do You Need a Marketing Plan?
You hear a lot today from those in the digital marketing community questioning the need for a strategic planning approach to marketing — creating the marketing plan. They say that the way we market is changing too fast and that there is no real need for this type of strategic planning. The speed of development of new media platforms and technologies does not obviate the need for taking a strategic approach to developing a marketing plan.
According to a study done at the Etail East event in Philadelphia in August of 2013, 35% of the marketers attending said they did not have a clear marketing strategy in place for FY 2013/FY 2014. And, 50% of those attending did not have a three or a five year marketing plan in place. (Source: DM News Article: http://www.dmnews.com/etail-blog-insights-report-reveals-35-of-marketers-do-not-have-strategy-for-fy2014/article/324968/ )
Clearly, many marketers are reacting and operating tactically in their approach to marketing. Whatever new media or vehicle comes along, they are jumping on them just as fast as they can, without any long term thought as to how this is going to help them achieve their financial objectives. Social media marketing comes along, they jump on it. Mobile media comes along and they jump on it. Many jumped on the QR codes bandwagon without any plan as to whether it fit in their overall marketing plan or whether or not it was even right for their customer and product/service offering.
To be successful, you must take a strategic approach to marketing and develop a well thought out strategic marketing plan. Yes, you have to be flexible and ready to change tactics, but the plan needs to be the cornerstone of your go-to-marketing efforts.
What is a Marketing Plan?
A marketing plan is a road map that guides an organization from Point A (its current state) to Point B (its desired state).
Why create a Marketing Plan?
A well-crafted marketing plan helps you beat the odds. Planning does not ensure success, but it improves the playing field by revealing strengths and opportunities that you can use to your advantage. It exposes weaknesses and external threats, providing you with an opportunity to avert undesirable future events. It ends time-wasting speculation and wishful thinking, and focuses everyone in the organization on the facts and realities of the marketplace. It provides the insight to gauge what are reasonable goals for the organization. And, it provides a benchmark from which to assess in the future the effectiveness of marketing decisions and the return on marketing investments.
Marketing Planning Process
The guidance to develop a marketing plan comes from the marketing planning process. The strategic marketing process involves strategic analysis, strategy development, implementation, and the final stages of evaluation and control. It answers these four questions:
- Where are we now? (the situation analysis)
- Where do we want to be? (your marketing goals and objectives)
- What is the best route to get there? (your strategies)
- What do we need for the trip? (your tactics)