You’re an expert in your field but don’t know the first thing about marketing, advertising and social media. Who’s really got time for that when you’re busy filing orders and responding to customer service issues? If you never plan, how will you ever reach your business goals?

Before getting started, make sure you’ve allocated marketing funds. Several clients use a percentage of revenue for marketing. The standard depends on your industry; for example, restaurants are smaller, say 2% due to lower margins. Typical service businesses spend up to 10% of revenues to drive awareness and sales.

5 steps to creating Strategic Marketing plan

Step 1: Set Goals: Set clear measurable goals for your business broken down by product, service and target audience. Include sales forecasts, expense budgets and metrics for tracking progress. Consider larger goals and break them down into smaller non-monetary reachable outcomes, like; number of presentations, links, blog posts, page views, proposals, try-n-buys. Match important tasks with key people on your team and hold them accountable for their successes. Make sure everyone in your organization is on board and aware of your business short term and long term goals.

Step 2: Know whom you’re targeting: To truly know your customers, you have to know what motivates them to purchase your service. Where do they shop and research about your offerings? Do they mostly find out about you via friends and referrals? What publications do they read, both online and traditional? What is their demographic (age, income, career and zip code they live in.) Make sure you are solving problems of your customers. Ask yourself, how can I make their life easier with my product? What is it they need the most? How can you use your expertise to meet their goals?

Step 3: Evaluate the competition: What is it they offer that you don’t? Do you know why your prospects are choosing the competition over your company? How do you uniquely differentiate your service in this market? What are the benefits of your product or service? What about price, who’s more expensive and what real value do you offer, even if your price is more?
If you haven’t polled your customer’s lately, why not give them an incentive to fill out a satisfaction survey? Then you can address any issues prior to the next fiscal year?

Step 4: Audience Engagement: Build a dynamic communication plan that will share your key marketing messages with your target audience. Be mindful to become the expert in your field and keep all communications related to that expertise.
Create a content map for the entire year, complete with a strategy on which topics your customers are interested in learning more about. Develop promotions that coordinate with your key messages and content. Make sure to include a social media component in your plan; which platforms you will use, how many posts, comments, shares, fans you would like to achieve. How you will handle incoming customer service issues? Make sure to include video, it is 3X more likely viewers will click through your message if it has video.

Step 5: Review and Revise: Strategic marketing plans are living documents and are constantly evolving. Track benchmarks regularly in your plan, quarterly is a good goal. As the economy changes, competition moves in or out, areas expand and contract, trends come and go, your company needs to continually be innovating and measuring what your customers need.

If you feel there are just not enough hours in the day to take on the task of creating your own Strategic Marketing Plan and need help, give BrainSpark a call. We’d love to collaborate with you and share proven techniques that will ignite your sales and help you meet your 2014 business goals.