‘Tis the Planning Season

You’re making your marketing wish list for next year…but are you checking it twice? In fact, are you making it at all, or will it be another year of winging it and just reacting to your competitors in the human capital marketplace?

Yes, we know, ‘tis the season for creating that marketing plan you’ve been promising yourself (and your staff and your management team and your mother) to develop all year.

You’ve already won half the battle if you use an online marketing and PR service such as HRmarketer.com, which gives you the competitive edge when planning and executing direct marketing campaigns, PR campaigns, exhibiting and/or sponsoring at events, advertising, business development and strategic partnerships, and so much more.

Now that we’ve got our shameless plug out of the way, let’s take a look at the bigger picture of planning. As far as we’re concerned, your marketing plan should be a blueprint for generating sales leads. Period. But to do that you must first understand your target market (which we’ve discussed in earlier blogs).

We recently read a fantastic article on MarketingProfs.com entitled Five Serious Considerations (and a Checklist) for Your Next Marketing Plan that delves deeply into the subject of developing marketing plans. According to the author Laura Patterson, president and founder of VisionEdge Marketing, “A marketing plan does not need to be complex, but it does require several elements to be effective. The plan should include market research to understand the customer, defensible positioning to own a space in the customers' mind, strategies and tactics to meet the company's marketing goals, and metrics to track progress toward those goals.”

Laura suggests that every company should address and include five areas when developing their plan (read all the details at Five Serious Considerations (and a Checklist) for Your Next Marketing Plan):

1. Market Research

If marketers are to accomplish the task of creating and keeping customers, they must conduct research to understand their markets and the shifts in the marketplace. Through research and evaluation of their products or services, companies learn what customers value most and what barriers exist to marketing their offerings.

2. Positioning

A defensible market position and clear value proposition form the foundation for the creation of a marketing plan. Marketing initiatives within the plan should be anchored to the company's positioning to create a consistent dialogue with the customer.

3. Strategies and Tactics

Moving a prospective client from a stage of awareness to one of consideration takes a sound marketing strategy designed to drive demand and influence purchasing behavior. According to famed business strategist Michael Porter, a strategy "creates a company's position, making trade-offs and forging fit among activities."

4. Metrics

Providing a means to assess progress, metrics are an essential part of any marketing plan. By constantly measuring actual performance against the metrics, companies can determine whether they are meeting the objectives of the plan and whether an adjustment is required.

5. Business Plan Alignment

Most importantly, the marketing plan must be in synch with the company's business plan. Marketing goals must be prioritized in line with the company's business goals. Marketing strategies should be based on how the company can best provide value.

Good luck to you and happy planning!