Planning is a good thing. Without a plan, it’s too easy to fall prey to “magpie syndrome” choosing marketing tools because they’re new and exciting rather than to serve a specific purpose for your business. There’s loads of advice on how to create a great marketing plan, but when it comes down to it, how do you actually get it done?
Here are your three main options:
1. Do it internally
Many companies choose to write their own Marketing Plans. Every business needs to have two marketing plans; a Strategic one and a Tactical one.
If you don’t have in-house marketers with marketing planning skills, then you may find these resources useful for pulling together your plans:
a. To pin down your marketing strategy, you’ll need to pull together your market proposition, customer profiles, key messages, and product portfolio. Dee Blick’s book, ‘15 Essential Marketing Masterclasses for your Business’, provides an excellent framework for creating a Strategic Marketing Plan.
b. If you already have your Strategic Marketing Plan sorted and have been implementing tactical marketing activities for while, read Bryony Thomas’ ‘Watertight Marketing’ on how to improve your marketing for long-term sales results for your business. Once you’ve bought the book, register it here for free, so you can get the accompanying Workbooks. By the time you have worked through all the exercises, you will have a comprehensive and prioritised tactical marketing action plan.
2. Do it internally but with support
If your business doesn’t have an experienced and qualified Marketing Manager or you do but they’re short on time, then get some experienced support to help create your marketing plans.
You might bring in an external marketing consultant to support you as you develop your plans; I offer this service, meeting with clients monthly or quarterly for half a day to get them started correctly and then ensure they are on the right track.
You could also follow a structured programme, such as Watertight Marketing’s Masterplan, which systematically helps you develop a sustainable approach to marketing for long-term success.
The great benefit of this option is that it hones the marketing planning skills of whoever is formulating the marketing plan, while also allowing them to use marketing professionals as objective sounding boards.
If you don’t have anyone internally with the right skills or time to produce marketing plans, then outsource it.
When choosing a consultant or company to help you with your marketing plan, I’d recommend you consider the following:
- Do they have a proven track record in developing marketing plans?
- Have they developed Strategic Marketing Plans, Tactical Marketing Plans or both?
- Are they generalist marketers or specialists? For a Marketing Plan, you need a generalist; if you hire a specialist, eg a Digital Marketer, to write your plan, don’t be surprised if it is all about Digital!
- How much of your time will be required and what will you get at the end? A lot of information will need to be collected from your business to create a thorough plan so beware the marketing consultant that can produce one off-the shelf. A good plan needs to be specific to your business, your products and your market – a “standard” one will be a waste of your time and money.
The outsource option is ideal for companies who want to make a real step change in their marketing. Having a qualified, experienced, objective person come in and work with you to develop a Marketing Plan can really drive your business forward and deliver tangible, valuable results.
Whichever option you choose, choose one.
Without a marketing plan, your business is spending time and money on marketing that might work but it probably won’t to the extent you need it to. A good Marketing Plan helps your business focus, spend its marketing resource wisely, and achieve the organisation’s goals now and in the future.
By Kara Stanford, Stragetic Marketing Consultant (in other words, I help you review and plan your marketing)