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Article -> Get Specific to Get Your Share With Marketing

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Date Added: January 2007

“I lost 46 pounds in 15 weeks.”
“I went from a size 14 to a size 6 in just 12 weeks.”
“I lost 22 pounds and am in the best shape since college.”
It’s hard to turn on the television these days without catching a celebrity or star athlete claiming about their success on the latest weight loss plan. Diet plans often “guarantee” amazing results, not unlike promises made by advertising representatives wanting to get a share of your marketing dollars. Diets and advertising may produce results; however, the key for either is a sound plan, and executing it to perfection.
A marketing plan is similar to a weight-loss program, in that it is a means to your goal. Essentially, it is the application and implementation of your marketing strategy (marketing’s embodiment of overall corporate objectives). The plan tells how to get there – results – from here – strategy.  
Effective marketing planning begins with gathering current information about your marketplace. This information is compiled by asking, listening and learning with your key customers; researching your competition; and benchmarking with relevant industry associations. Once you have this information, create your plan.
Define your business:
  • Product or service description
  • Geographic distribution area
  • Competition
  • Points of differentiation
  • Key messages and brand positioning
  • Distribution channels
 Define your customers:
  • Current customers
  • How they found you
  • Purchasing habits
  • Qualities valued by your customers about your product or service
  • Gaps in your product or service as defined by your customers
  • Potential new customers and markets
Now, create specific marketing goals based on the above information. For example, a marketing goal may be to increase revenues from current clients by 15 percent or to gain one new client each month. Keep in mind, to keep your team motivated; goals must be attainable and relevant.   
The next part is harder. Under each goal, craft tactics your organization will use to achieve your marketing goals. For instance, to gain new clients, it might make sense to place ads in a trade magazine. Be specific and write down both the publication’s name and brand
Compare the goals and tactics with your overall marketing strategy. Are they aligned? Choose the items that best align with your customers’ and prospects’ needs, and your budget. When the list is completed, it will contain a specific action plan to follow, rather than random thoughts. 
Now, grab a calendar and break down your marketing plan. Estimate quarterly or monthly investments and correlate tactics with the goals for effective measurement. Don’t worry if the plan changes. Just like a diet and exercise program, it needs to be realistic based on your current situation. Your marketing plan needs to be reviewed consistently as it must change as the market changes.
This article was published in the Green Bay Press-Gazette on January 9, 2007.
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