Any marketing plan works best when you start with a well-thought out strategic plan for business growth. With said plan, marketing efforts can be implemented to support it. When a marketing agency and client work together to form an internal, long-term strategic business plan, they create a guide that serves for decision-making and project management. Working in partnership is the key to achieving marketing effectiveness. Take a look at the six key steps of strategic planning for any business.
1) Gauge Industry, Trends, and Competitors
The best way to start any strategic plan is to study your business’s overall industry. Questions to consider include: What is the size of the industry? Is this a quick or slow growing industry? Who are your business’s competitors? What products or services do your customers ask for? Are there any industry trends? If so, what are they? Effective plans cannot be set up and put into motion, if you don’t truly understand your industry and competition. It is important to view this examination as an “external” evaluation of the overall market and trends that will impact your business.
2) Perform a SWOT Analysis of Your Business
Performing an in-depth SWOT analysis of your business is crucial in order to draft, implement, and manage a strategic plan. What exactly is a SWOT analysis you may ask? Let’s break it down. A SWOT analysis closely evaluates your business’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Strengths describe what your business excels at and what sets your business apart from the competition in the industry. Weaknesses can be described as internal factors that hinder your business from performing at an optimum level, and includes areas in which your business need to improve, in order to maintain a competitive edge. Opportunities indicate external factors that are favorable for your business, which you can use to gain a competitive advantage. Threats specify external factors that can potentially harm your business. SWOT analysis should be thought as an internal evaluation of what your business has to offer.
3) Illustrate Your Mission and Vision
Once you’ve conducted an external and an internal evaluation of your business, you are in a great position to start drafting a high-level mission and vision statement. Your business’s mission statement should speak to “why the business exists?” The vision statement should speak to “what does your business offer and where is it heading in the future?” As a rule of thumb, all effective vision statements should be quantifiable and time bound. These types of vision statements are considered “North Star” statements that will guide all detailed decision you and your marketing agency makes from there on.
4) Determine Your Business Goals
Once you have figured out where your business is heading, and what you are up against from a competitive and industry perspective, you will now be able to start focusing on specific business goals that will enable your business to achieve its vision. Your business’s goals should be specific outcomes that you are trying to achieve. Goals can include implementing sales and marketing strategies, increasing efficiency, financial aims, changes in product or service offerings, improving employee and work space culture, etc. Additionally, goals can be viewed as high-level things that must happen, in order to turn your business’s vision into reality.
5) Focus on Specific Department Level Objectives
As you are drafting your business’s strategic plan, it is important to focus on specific department level objectives. When you arrive at this point of strategic planning, you should speak with your business’s department managers regarding specific departmental objectives – that way you’ll better understand the needs of your business. It is pertinent to set specific objectives for all departments involved. Each department should have one goal a year, so that they can rally around the objective and accomplish it. It is also very important to make these departmental objectives SMART goals– Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-Focused, and Timebound.
6) Pinpoint Your Budget, Financing, and Staffing Needs
Once you have specified and assessed your business’s departmental needs, you can now combine them into one centralized strategic plan that includes organizational structure and budgetary needs. If your business doesn’t have the full financial resources necessary to achieve the strategic plan, you can consider two choices: a) lower your target to a level that you can afford; or b) raise the capital that is necessary to achieve the complete strategic plan.
Generally, it is quite helpful to engage with a marketing agency, to help focus internal discussion between all company decision-makers, while drafting your business’s strategic plan. An outside advisor can help organize the planning processes and focus on the stuff that really matters. They can also help mediate differing opinions between decision-makers. Ultimately, having a common strategy and set of objectives makes for an effective marketing plan to help achieve business goals.
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