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Defining Marketing: Marketing Planning

Posted on 16/04/2015, 10:03

Marketing is often defined as the process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably – how to get your service or product in front of your target customers and persuade them to buy it.

Your marketing strategy serves as the foundation of your marketing plan – it delivers a clear aim and set of goals to be achieved.  The marketing plan defines the way in which you are going to achieve your goals using a combination of specific marketing actions and initiatives.

It is essential to have a formalised marketing plan so that marketing activity is proactive and deliverable.  Without a plan, marketing becomes solely reactive to opportunities arising.  The plan, consisting of actions or marketing initiatives, should therefore be programmed, costed and measurable.   It should, however, retain the ability to react to opportunities – dynamic and interactive.

Marketing in the digital age offers small business owners a vast toolbox; but which ones are best for you when you have limited resources?

Answer: Only those that align most closely with your marketing strategy. If you don’t have a clear strategy prepare waste a lot of time, effort and cash on the latest ideas that promise the world and don’t deliver; not because they are bad ideas, but because they are bad ideas for your company.

Here are three guidelines for assessing your marketing options.

  1. Focus on the core: Every business has a core; that which delivers the most profit. Your core customer deserves the lion’s share of your marketing effort, so find out what marketing activity works with your core customer and prioritise it. That may sound obvious, but plenty of small businesses chase the next order without every firmly planting a flag in with one group (segment) of customers. Targeting is the difference between marketing as expense and marketing as investment.
  1. Don’t bite off more than you can chew: You don’t have to embrace every marketing fad in the book and some marketing tools (particularly social media) require constant attention and time you may not have. Blogging is a great example. Blogs are cheap to set up, but they take huge effort to update on a consistent basis. Manage a blog poorly, and you will disappoint your customers. Social networks are another increasingly popular tool. But these, too, require a fair amount of administration.
  1. Don’t get blown off course: There are thousands of agencies selling media, selling search engine optimised websites and promising “hot leads”. Keep track of latest developments but focus on establishing and implementing a well thought out marketing plan that delivers against the marketing strategy.

Remember: Your plan should dictate the solution; the reverse is a recipe for failure.  Planning is all about the results, not the plan itself

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