Developing a strategic marketing and communications plan can be one of the most important investments an organization can make. If done well, the process guides your marketing efforts. But possibly more significantly, it can help provide clarity about your organization to your internal stakeholders.
In the simplest terms, a strategic marketing communications plan is a comprehensive roadmap to document your overall marketing efforts. You will answer many of the key questions, including what you want to accomplish, how to achieve it and why it’s important.
The best news is that it is never too late, or too early, to develop a plan. Whenever you start looking at the strategic use of these resources, there are significant factors to review and consider.
The following is a list of important issues to consider as you develop your plan.
Review your organization’s overall strategic plan
This is a great time to make sure you are in line with the vision, mission, objectives, needs, and resources of the organization and whether your efforts are on track with any stated goals. Verifying your alignment with the overall strategic plan can also help in securing approval for your marketing plan.
Define/verify the target audience
Do you know whom your marketing plan is speaking to? Describe the customer you’re targeting, define their demographic and psychographic profiles, and their exact wants and desires as it relates to the products and/or services you offer. This information will help identify your advertising channels of prospective customers.
Understand your positioning
What are the elements that set you apart from your competitors? The positioning of your brand or organization is based on your distinction in the marketplace – it’s the combination of your pricing, services and brand equity. Be sure to develop compelling branding and marketing messages that clearly communicate those distinctions.
Identify your budget
It’s time to determine how much you can spend. This section of your marketing plan creates financial projections and cost estimates. Be sure to include all expenses you expect to incur and the expected results in terms of new customers, sales and profits.
What marketing materials will you need
Do you have a collateral system to promote your organization to current and prospective customers? Consider items such as, but not limited to, stationery system, brochures, catalogs, and website. If you already have marketing materials currently being used, identify what needs to be created or updated in this section of your marketing plan.
Develop your promotions strategy
This section is one of the most important parts of your marketing plan and it provides details about how you will reach your target audience. Potential tactics include TV, radio, out-of-home, digital advertising, event marketing, public relations, social media, and event marketing.
You’ll need to consider each of the above options and decide which ones are the most effective in reaching your target audience with the allotted budget.
Consider your metrics
How will you track and measure your marketing success? It’s critical to measure the results of your marketing plan so you can continually gauge the effectiveness of your efforts and use that information to make improvements. You can make it as simple or complicated as you like but you need to do it.
For a review of some common metrics, visit our D/B blog.
With all of these elements in place, you will have developed a powerful tool to guide your marketing efforts.