When I started in this game, more than a few years ago, I was so sure that I could go straight to tactics without having a strategy. I was sure that my marketing plans were well designed to meet the objectives. Fortunately, I had a mentor that showed me not only the fault in my thinking, but why it is so important and how much more accurate my marketing plans would be if I went through A, B and C rather than skipping straight to D.
Without a strategy to build our marketing plan on we are setting out on a journey without knowing where we are starting from. How can we chart our path of how we are going to get to where we want to go?
Boiled down, the activity of marketing is strategy, tactics and execution. In that order. Our strategy is where we are now and where we want to go, our tactics are how we are going to get there.
So, before jumping into the wonderful and fun world of building a marketing plan we need to know not only where we want our business to go but where we are sitting right now. I can’t express enough how much easier it will be to develop a successful marketing plan when we are in the know.
Whether we are building our brand, growing our business or launching a new product or offering, we must first outline the strategy before we can develop an effective marketing plan.
A corporate strategy will give us a solid understanding of our brand, our strengths and weaknesses, how we stack up against the competition, who is our competition, our customer value proposition, our present position in the market place. In developing our strategy we will need research to tell us what is going on in the market place, market trends, market drivers, consumer habits, market changes and environments.
This will then give us a clear picture of exactly where we are now and the realities of getting to where we want to be. We will have solid intel on market opportunities, of strengths that we can leverage moving forward, and of issues that need to be addressed.
When launching a new product or offering into the market place, too often we see failure from even popular consumer brands because they haven’t invested the time in the strategy that would give them the essential information to develop an effective marketing plan dramatically reducing the risk of failure.
Our brands and our financial investments are too valuable to “just wing it” and hope for the best. Knowing where we are starting from gives us everything we need to know to get to where we are going.
By Elizabeth Mitchell