In today’s modern world, marketing often happens quickly—and sometimes, it has to. But for the most part, strategy is still at the heart of getting great, long-lasting results. Though strategy can be simply explained as having a plan to work from, it takes careful thought to put together an effective roadmap for personalized marketing moves. Here’s what you can accomplish by implementing marketing that’s lead by strategic planning.
1—Cover all your bases thoroughly.
If you’re working with a good marketing strategist for the first time, you should expect them to really try to get to know both you and your business goals. In the process, she or he will look at your needs from fresh eyes, asking questions that uncover new ideas and out-of-the box solutions. That person and their team will likely have too many ideas that will then be narrowed down to fit your needs while maximizing efforts to the fullest potential.
2—Create efficiency by eliminating what you don’t need and staying on the right financial track.
Your marketing strategy should always budget within your means. This helps eliminate the unnecessary spending of valuable dollars on impulsive ad placements or promotional materials that are beyond the scope of your goals. It also helps give you the freedom to say no to any outdated tactics of the past that you feel indebted to. “Why can’t we sponsor the parade of the next city over? Oh, because it’s not in this year’s marketing plan.” It’s as simple—and honest—as that.
3—Guide your way through the year so everything stays in place.
Once a plan is built, it becomes more than just strategy. Many companies come to rely on it as a great communications tool for deadlines and idea sessions. For instance, if you know the quarterly company newsletter needs to go out in September, you and your strategist will go over what’s noteworthy and what’s upcoming. This keeps you on top of what to share with your audience and what you could make happen between now and the subsequent issue. See how strategy begets strategy?
4—Prepare for the candid moments.
Flexibility is important. Goals may change or additional ones may be thrown at you. Sometimes PR pops up (positive or not) that can’t be ignored. These things happen, so your strategy should incorporate some flex time and budget. On those same lines, having established brand-approved messaging from other items within the strategy will help keep you prepared for impromptu communication needs.
5—Have something to evaluate from, and a place to start for next year.
When a strategic marketing plan is written and finalized, it sets a certain standard for activity and goals throughout the year (or whatever timeframe it’s written for). At the end—and ideally throughout—results will be measured as much as possible and adjusted accordingly. Oftentimes, layering doesn’t give you exact performance numbers. But if you have a high or low point during your timeframe and compare it to the marketing plan, you can get a pretty good idea of what works well and what needs improvement.
The process of generating a plan involves a lot of forecasting into the future. You might come back with goals you knew you had, but weren’t sure quite how to describe. Now you’ve got a great list to strive for, and an expert leading the way as your plan is implemented.
Sometimes the ideas put into motion during the strategy process don’t fit in this year’s budget. But they’re valuable components to work towards. For instance, maybe this year’s photoshoot will be used for next year’s bus graphics. When your strategist takes the time to find out where you want to go, you’ll have some of your milestones carved out for you in advance.
8—Enhance existing marketing efforts.
A good strategic marketing plan doesn’t reinvent the wheel each time. If you’ve already got marketing in motion, the typical starting point should be to review what you’ve been doing and to take a moment to ask how it’s been working, how it can be improved, and what other pieces can help support the goals you’re already working towards. Strategic planning embraces the good and lifts it even higher.
When you look for an effective marketing partner, make sure they’ve got strategy as an offering for you. If an agency or marketer is willing and able to do the grunt work of routing your way through the marketing wilderness, it’s a good sign that they’re looking for a long-term partnership that benefits you both. WhiteBox Marketing always starts with solid strategy, and you should too.
By: Carrie Karki
Director of Marketing and Founder of WhiteBox Marketing
Carrie has been a marketing strategist for the past 11 years, which is just part of her 20 successful years in the marketing & advertising world. Learn more here and get in touch here.