A finished working marketing plan looks at a number of things, which inevitably include the familiar favourites like a SWOT analysis and a list of Features and Benefits, but experience tells us that these tried and tested must-haves are not enough on their own.
What’s just as important is developing a crisp and clear understanding of what all this gumph means in practice. How are you going to use it? How can it get out of the neatly bound marketing plan and into the hearts and minds of your target audience?
You can’t just tell people about your strengths or your brand values. You need to show; you need evidence; you need to live and breathe this stuff; you need to make your promises believable.
It’s a mindset thing
In the planning process, emphasis must be placed on not just what to do but on how to do it and on how to join it all up. Any marketing consultant who stops short of this by simply handing over a neat little action plan is, quite simply, failing you.
My clients learn a great deal about showing, not telling. I call it ‘instilling the marketing mindset’. This might be through facilitated action learning workshops for senior management, it might be as part of dveloping new communications collaterol, or it may be in one-to-one mentoring sessions. Regardless, I know that it’s something my clients value as much as any schedule of marketing activities. And it’s my competitive advantage over other marketers who I find myself up against.
Most marketers will speak eagerly of mission statements, values and visions. But so often these are simply wholesale labels that fail to get to the heart of a business or the people who work in it. I believe it’s as important for a business to understand and share the core values and beliefs at its heart, as it is for a human being.
What is it about your business/product/service that gets you excited? What is it, which if it was missing, would make a fundamental difference?
If you have a list of core values, how do you live and breathe them? How do you get them into the hearts and minds of everyone that your business interacts with, internally and externally?
Tools, techniques and tricks
I have plenty of ways of working up this kind of stuff; plenty of proven tools, techniques and tricks which define and position a business depending upon its culture and style. The tool may differ, but creating a marketing mindset is where the work on any marketing plan begins. Then, and only then, is it right to look at what the marketing plan will decide to act on.
Only then, when everyone in the management team is on board and in harmony, is it right to explore the what’s, why’s and how’s of a marketing plan.
Only then, can we know that what you offer is distinctive and sought after. Then, it’s time to look at the deliverables.
There's no single, simple process to marketing planning. Your business is unique, and so is the stage it is at. As ever, there are loads of possible routes to take. We love listening to people talk about their business and are the perfect sounding board that is needed to get the ball rolling. Just give us a nudge and we'll gladly make time to talk things through and steer you in a direction that will help you find your way. A quick phone call is all it takes to talk to a marketing expert.