Marketing is often defined as the process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably. Put simply how to get your service or product in front of your target customers and persuade them to buy it.
Where to start
Your strategy starts with where you want your business to fit in the marketplace. Without a clear strategy and aim, your marketing efforts are unlikely to be effective. Think of your marketing strategy as the high-level rules that direct your marketing activities. The strategy defines a series of goals which must be achieved and sets the focus for the marketing plan. It shows how you intend to use marketing to achieve your business goals. You start by identifying the overall goals for your business. Then you break it down into marketing activities to support the business goals.
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. Both dynamic and interactive.
The plan might include initiatives such as; advertising, internet marketing, public relations, promotions, direct mail, exhibitions etc.
And remember that planning is about the results. Not the plan itself and therefore a marketing plan must be measured by the results it produces. Analysis of your planned goals vs your actual results is critical to the eventual results and this needs to be built into your plan.