By Mar'Ellen Felin, Communications Service Provider for Missouri Enterprise
A marketing plan is a strategic document for a company’s sales, advertising, and other marketing efforts, serving as a blueprint to meet stated objectives within a specified time period. What a marketing plan isn’t: A lengthy formal document that gets filed away never to be seen again or, worse yet, an unwritten plan that resides in one person’s mind.
A marketing plan can take very simple forms of bullet points, graphs and budget outlines. It doesn’t have to be intimidating or elaborate, and anybody can build a marketing plan with a little professional guidance.
For a small company without a dedicated marketing professional the process can be an overwhelming undertaking. But, the reasons to go through it are important, even critical to success. To start the marketing plan process you conduct a:
1. SWOT Analysis,
2. Competitive Analysis,
3. Target Audience Analysis, and
4. Unique Competitive Advantage Analysis.
These four steps prompt plans of action, such as:
• Optimizing advertising strategy and messaging;
• Honing sales strategies and conversations to maximize unique competitive advantage with target audience;
• Developing new products or changing existing products to address market needs;
• Adapting to market shifts originating with competition, prospective customers or economy;
• Addressing internal weaknesses and capitalizing on internal strengths;
• Identifying plans to take advantage of external opportunities and minimize threats among many others.
Optimizing the success of Missouri manufacturers is the mission of Missouri Enterprise, so we have developed a four-hour workshop to provide structure and guidance on those first four most critical steps to completing your marketing plan.
We have developed this workshop specifically for companies without a dedicated marketing professional.
In our first workshop in May, the individuals in attendance were all responsible for some form of marketing for their company including social media management, sales, and product development. No attendees had a single guiding document shared company wide and none had discussed some of the foundational questions critical to effectively marketing a company and its products. This certainly doesn’t mean they are ineffective in their jobs; it just means they are typical.
Most small companies cannot justify investing in a full-time, trained marketing professional to centrally manage all of the company’s four P’s: product, price, place and promotion. And, that’s OK. What isn’t OK is not having a centralized plan that serves as a blueprint for the entire team responsible for these functions. Most teams go directly to implementing a plan and skip the critical steps to identify what the plan should entail.
For example, imagine that your company has an entry for a marathon next weekend. Nobody in the company has ever run a marathon, so the owner looks at you and says, “You have time and what you do here is kind of like running so I bet you would be a good runner.” You dutifully agree, and you’re a little excited to have something new to do despite the fact you’ve never trained or studied how to run 26.2 miles. Oh, and the owner expects you to beat all of your competitors. We would never expect this to work.
While this analogy seems absurd, out of necessity, appointing an employee to run a marathon with no training is typical of how small companies handle marketing functions. There is nothing wrong with this staffing strategy if you have outside assistance. So take advantage of the Missouri Enterprise Marketing 101 for Manufacturers workshop, and better prepare your company for running the marketing marathon.
Interested in learning more or kick starting your marketing plan? Let your Area Business Manager help!