Behind every successful business is a well-thought-out and well-prepared plan. Most importantly, a strong strategic marketing plan. It's what keeps everyone in your company on the same page and on track to meeting your marketing expectations. Marketers who develop strategic plans are more successful and see greater ROI from their marketing efforts.
Top marketers are organized, set goals, document their strategy, and proactively plan projects and campaigns. Statistics even show the ones who are most organized are 397% more likely to report success, goal-setters are 376% more likely to report success, those who document their strategy are 313% more likely to report success, and marketers who proactively plan projects are 356% more likely to report success.
With that in mind, let's get into ways you can start developing a successful marketing strategy with better planning and research.
Conduct a SWOT Analysis
Before you can develop a strong strategic marketing plan that is right for your business, you must first understand the state of your company. To do this, you need to conduct a SWOT analysis to reveal your company's internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats. This will help you determine your competitive position and advantages, potential in the industry, risk, competition, performance, and more.
SWOT analysis breakdown:
- Strengths — think about all the positive things your brand and company do (and do well, for that matter). Include what you do better than the competition, expertise, skills, innovations, advancements, etc.
- Weaknesses — on the other end, lay out what your company isn't very good at. Consider what the competition does better than you, your limitations, unclear messaging, and other areas you lack in.
- Opportunities — what external factors are an opportunity for your business to grow in some way? Jot down areas in the market that your product can fill in gaps, chances for your company to expand (i.e., opening for a fresh mind and talented new employee), etc.
- Threats — referring to anything that has the potential to raise problems for your product and business, threats are external factors like a new competitor in town, laws/regulations/shortages that restrict your product in some way, etc.
Identify Your Target Audience
When doing a SWOT analysis, you'll notice that a big part of your business (and even marketing plan) is taking what you know about your target audience and implementing it into your overall strategy — how does your product appeal to them? Help them? Benefit them? And more.
There's also the increasing importance for more personalization in every interaction with your customers — a strategy that involves in-depth knowledge of your target audience. More than 70% of consumers feel frustrated when a shopping experience is impersonal. For example when brands send irrelevant emails or when website content is not personalized.
Write SMART Goals
Not just any goals will get your company where it needs to be in its marketing plan. Only SMART goals come highly recommended for having a track record of bringing success to the table.
This is because SMART goals are:
- Relevant (to business goals)
Analyze Your Marketing Tactics
Just like every person is not made the same, every business is not made the same. For this reason and more, it’s essential that you regularly test and analyze your marketing tactics. This way, tactics that don't work can be replaced with new ones, and the tactics that have proven to be successful can be tweaked when necessary.
You’ll want to use these best practices to analyze your strategy:
- Perform a cost-benefit analysis of the use of company marketing resources and the resulting performance increases.
- Look at alternate uses of resources as measured against potential benefits to ensure company resources are being used to the best advantage.
- Examine whether it is possible to achieve your goals while expending fewer resources or by using external resources.
Establish Your Budget
A budget is important for ensuring your marketing team doesn't unexpectedly (sometimes even unintentionally) spend too much on one or more strategies. After all, if no one has a strict amount to abide by, it can become all too easy to overspend. On the other side, you’ll also want to make sure that you have enough of a budget to move the needle.
Likewise, establishing a marketing budget will allow you and your team to stay on target with what your company can afford to pay towards marketing efforts. Marketing executives have devoted an average of 7-10% of their company's revenues towards marketing budgets in the past couple of years but have devoted as much as 13.2% in the last year.
Set Your Marketing Plan Up for Success
A strong strategic marketing plan always includes SWOT, target audience specifics, tested and analyzed marketing tactics, and clearly defined budgets for the year. Without these essential components, you run the risk of team members not being on the same page and disorganized executions. With them, you'll find you're more set for success.
You should also consider working with a media partner to develop a customized marketing strategy. Their expertise can help improve your plan with ideas that have already been tested and proven to work in your industry and market.