SCORR Marketing Advice: Make a Plan

The key to marketing success? Make a plan, Stan.
By Cinda Orr

Many marketing directors and sales managers live in dread of the annual marketing plan, yet for me, strategic planning is one of the most interesting and exciting aspects of marketing.

Preparing a formal plan is an opportunity to take a step back and get an objective look at all the different aspects of your organization. It is only when you realistically assess how your company compares with competitors in the battle for customers and market share that you can begin to formulate strategies that will move you forward in the coming year.

The first step is to gather information, as much and as objectively as you can on:

  • The market itself
  • Internal profit and loss centers
  • R&D and production
  • Sales and distribution
  • Advertising and promotion

Planning a marketing campaign has often been compared to planning a military campaign, and for good reason. Just like the generals in the War Room, you have to analyze intelligence you’ve gathered on the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors and relate it to your own strengths and weaknesses; you have to identify potential threats and opportunities, and set goals on different fronts; and you have to plan the individual tactics that will help you meet those goals.

We use a two-page template to help keep the planning process focused for our clients. Starting with statements of where the organization is currently and our goals for the future, we take a thorough look at the state of the market and market trends; evaluate competitors’ strengths, weaknesses and positions in the market; meticulously analyze customer segments and their needs; and review the media, trade shows and other specific communications channels available to reach the customer base.

Planning is also a great way to retain control of the marketing budget. Resources are allocated based on the goals and opportunities identified in the plan. By building in specific metrics such as sales volume or sales inquiries, you can measure the marketing effectiveness of specific tactics. Companies with the discipline to prepare an annual plan create a valuable database of information that can be used to hone future plans to razor-sharp effectiveness.

I don’t want to come off as a planning geek, but I actually like the process of putting the pieces of the puzzle together. It helps keep corporate focus where it should be and while it needs to be flexible enough to respond to new opportunities, it also helps guard against distracting impulses.

Having a marketing plan that everyone involved can contribute to, buy off on and refer to during the year is what every company needs to maintain the corporate vision and mission. Even if it’s hard, it’s worth doing. And with a little help from your friends, it doesn’t have to be that hard.

About SCORR Marketing
SCORR collaborates with energetic companies to develop “next-phase growth strategies” and utilizes a disciplined approach to marketing plans that ensures solid incremental growth year after year, creating tangible results. SCORR’s team includes dedicated talent with worldwide experience in market development, public relations and communications, customer retention and development, corporate identity/branding, broadcast and print advertising, tradeshow/event planning and promotion, and website development and hosting services. Connect with SCORR Marketing on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, or call us at 308.237.5567.