Today, I’m delving into why it’s critical to have a strategic marketing plan in place before creating specific activities. After all, implementing a marketing communications program without having a strategic foundation in place is analogous to flying a plane (what we want to do) without knowing your destination (where we need to be) or filing a flight plan (the best way to get there).
Practically every time I speak with a business executive, at least one of the following challenges comes up in conversation – whether in the public, private, governmental or non-profit sectors:
- Of all of our target audiences, which ones are most important? In what order? Why?
- How do we align our messaging with the needs of each appropriate audience?
- Which marketing tools effectively reach these audiences and will our efforts cut through the clutter?
- Which of these tools are within our budget?
- When a crisis occurs (and it will), are we ready to respond in a timely, fully-coordinated manner externally and internally?
We help ascertain these answers which essentially become your strategic foundation. Having a documented plan helps organizations reaffirm their most important priorities, synchronize their efforts across all activities and leverage the appropriate resources to best reach their goals.
So before you false-start with just tactics, ask yourself:
- What do we need to achieve (goals)
- Whom do we have to engage to reach these goals (audiences)
- In what order should we contact our audiences (prioritization)
- How do we help these audiences meet their needs (messaging)
- How can we reach these audiences while staying within budget (tactics)
When you start with a plan, there is now an agreed-upon “destination” and “flight plan”. By sticking to the plan, and adjusting it as needed, your organization remains focused on those marketing communications activities which provide the biggest bang for the buck to achieve your goals. After all, focusing on the first things first is always a good idea.