Crafting a Strategic Marketing Plan

Marketers need to do some homework before designing a marketing plan. Here are some tips | Illustration: Norman Gracia

Marketers need to do some homework before designing a marketing plan. Here are some tips | Illustration: Norman Gracia

When done right, marketing plans serve as a strategic guide to a company, complete with facts, figures and objectives to help attract, engage and retain customers. Boiled down to their essence, they define the company, what it’s offering, who it’s targeting and what its core strategies are to generate sales. But crafting an effective marketing plan is complex, involving the following phases:

  1. Marketing plan preliminaries
    Marketers need to do some homework before designing a marketing plan. To get “the lay of the land,” they’ll need to conduct some initial research, namely industry, competitive and past-performance analyses. These will help them estimate the potential market size, identify who they’re up against and pinpoint historical patterns that could help project future trends.
  2. What’s the product?
    If initial research indicates a market for the firm’s offering, be it a tangible product or a service, marketers can start designing a strategic plan. The first rule of thumb could be summed up as “know thyself.” A situational or SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats – is the place to start. It defines the company, its field of action, its product benefits and the distinguishing features that set it apart from the competition.
  3. Who will buy it?
    To truly engage potential customers and generate leads, marketers require a deep understanding of their target and how their offering addresses unmet needs. The target market should be narrowed down as much as possible since its intrinsic characteristics will ultimately inform the firm’s branding, positioning and communication strategies.
    In a B2C context, these qualities would include core demographics like the typical target’s age, gender, earnings and geographic location, while in a B2B sales channel, marketers would define possible prospects based on the type and size of the business, job title and geographic location.
  4. What’s our budget?
    There’s no way to build a brand without funds. Once the total spend is defined, the next step is breaking it down and deciding how to allocate it. Marketing plans comprise a number of core elements, from branding, website and digital campaigns to traditional advertising and PR events. The rundown will revert back to the target audience and their purchasing patterns.
  5. What are the end objectives?
    What does the company aim to achieve? Higher sales? Greater brand awareness? Expansion into a new niche or global market? Marketing objectives will vary depending on the life stage of the company and characteristics of the product or service offered.
  6. Which brings us to marketing metrics…
    Whatever the end objectives, the marketing plan should put concrete numbers and timelines around each to monitor their performance and recalibrate as needed. Marketing metrics and key performance indicators or KPIs are essential guides for marketers to track performance over time across all marketing channels.

IESE’s focused program “Strategic Marketing: Building Impactful and Integrated Marketing Plans is an intense two-day immersion with key learnings for B2B, B2C and non-profit perspectives. The school’s New York City campus in midtown Manhattan will host the next edition on March 7-8, 2019.

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