5 Reasons Why You Should Create a 2015 Marketing Plan Even If You Don’t Want One

No doubt with the new year quickly rolling around in just around the corner, your company is preparing to tighten up its business plans.

As much as you’re tempted to just stick with the same old business and marketing plan, with hopes that it will help to increase profits, it’s time to go back in the saddle and update your marketing strategy for 2015.

Here are a few ideas to help you…

1) Taking advantage of new technology will help you win the race.

We can all agree that technology is here to stay, with new web trends, mobile phones and tablets, marketing tactics should accommodate emerging tech.

To generate more profits in the upcoming year, figure out fresh ways to deliver content and your service through these new mediums.

Ask yourself, has your company delved into the mobile app development industry?

Is your online presence strong?

These are just a couple of things that should be apart of your planning when developing a 2015 marketing plan.

2) Top brands are boosting ad spending.

According to Ad Age major auto brands such as Audi and Chevy have announced their plans to launch more television advertisements. While you may not have a Fortune 500 marketing budget, such moves from top brands inspires ideas you can borrow for your marketing, on a smaller scale.

Create a new marketing strategy that allows you to advertise on emerging platforms, if it can be measured for ROI.

3) What worked and what didn’t work?

As great as some of our marketing ideas seemed for 2014, you have to admit that not all of those supposed “great” ideas worked. Understanding where you went wrong with past efforts will help you determine where things fell apart.

Also, it provides concrete evidence that supports continuing or changing your marketing strategy. This is one of the most important things you should think about when creating or updating your marketing plan for 2015.

4) New products and services deserve fresh planning.

Has your company added new products or services to the product mix? Perhaps you’re launching a new product or service soon?

Using the same marketing tactics for new products and services may not work as well as past marketing for your existing products and services. You want to get consumers hyped about the latest things you have in store. This requires a change in marketing focus.

5) Move a level up on your competitors.

You can bet your last dollar that your company’s competitors are brainstorming different ways to surpass you and to stay on top. This means that they are creating fresh and maybe innovative marketing tactics that will entice clients, customers and patients.

You may want to do the same if you want to stay a step ahead. Including innovative tactics on your marketing calendar will help make your upcoming year profitable.

Even though last year’s plan may have worked fairly well for you, why not shoot for better results with an updated marketing plan for this upcoming year?

7 Urgent Things To Do Before Writing Your Marketing Plan

Have you ever wondered how to streamline creating a marketing plan?

Can I show you 7 simple questions to ask to help speed up creating your next marketing plan?

The first question to ask is, “Do I really need a marketing plan.”

You may not. If everything you are doing to bring in all the business you want, don’t change a thing. Even if you or your staff are bored with it. Let it keep profiting until it stops profiting.

Next ask, “What do I want a marketing plan to do for me and my business.”

Many marketing plans are written as part of a business plan. Also, marketing plans are written when looking for new or more funding. Most marketing plans are created as a road map, a guide to the next 12-18 months of marketing campaigns

Now, “What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?” Answer in a compelling way, why anyone would choose your products, services or ideas over all the other choices they have, including doing nothing.

Of course, you are making and “Irresistible Offer” every time you are in front of someone. Business and marketing are all about offers. You give me this and I’ll give you that. Keep in mind that without an offer, no business transpires. Think of the many times you have seen an advertisement or marketing message and couldn’t figure out what was being offered. Don’t make this critical mistake. State exactly what you will be offering in your marketing plan.

OK, “Where is your ideal future client or customer?” Not just anyone, but who is the ideal lead to generate for your products, services or ideas. Where can you find enough of your ideal future clients to be profitable? When you do find them, how much do you know about their hopes, aspirations, desires, fears, problems, etc? Take off your shoes and walk in your future clients shoes for a week and see, hear and feel what they see, hear and feel. Then and only then, will you know their real problems.

I’m sure you’ve decided on which, if any, of the many of the different “marketing media options you’ll want to test.” Options like direct response mailing campaigns, yellow page ads or email marketing. How about tele-marketing, newspaper display ads or Webinars? Networking, Social media marketing or pay-per-click marketing? We could go on and on and on, but you get the idea. Where are you going to spend your marketing budget

Finally, as long as you are going after new clients, “How are you capturing their personal information?” I don’t mean their shoe size, waist size or height (but you may need them depending on what you are selling). Are you asking for their name, email address and snail mail address? If not, how will you communicate with them in the future?

Now grab a piece of paper and start answering these questions.Doing so will focus your marketing plan and anyone reading it will know exactly the what, where, when, who and how you are planning to market your business.

OK, I admit it; there are more than 7 questions to answer. You should have seen the ones I edited out. I’ve saved them for another article in the near future, so keep checking back.

The e-Marketing Plan – Brief Overview and Working Scheme

I. Summary of a marketing plan

The marketing planning (concretized in the marketing plan) is an essential organizational activity, considering the hostile and complex competitive business environment. Our ability and skills to perform profitable sales are affected by hundreds of internal and external factors that interact in a difficult way to evaluate. A marketing manager must understand and build an image upon these variables and their interactions, and must take rational decisions.

Let us see what do we call a “marketing plan”? It is the result of the planning activity, a document that includes a review of the organization’s place in the market, an analysis of the STEP factors as well as a SWOT analysis. A complete plan would also formulate some presumptions on why we think the past marketing strategy was successful or not. The next phase shall present the objectives we set, together with the strategies to achieve these objectives. In a logical sequence, we will further need to evaluate the results and formulate alternative plans of action. A plan would consist in details of responsibilities, costs, sales prognosis and budgeting issues.

In the end, we should not forget to specify how the plan (or plans) will be controlled, by what means we will measure its results.

We will see how to build the marketing plan, what is its structure: after we will see how to build the traditional marketing plan, we will take a look at the e-marketing plan and see how the unique features of the internet will require some changes in the approach of writing a marketing plan.

But, before we continue, we must understand and accept that steps of the marketing plan are universal. It is a logical approach of the planning activity, no matter where we apply it. The differences you meet from a plan to another consist in the degree of formality accorded to each phase, depending on the size and nature of the organization involved. For example, a small and not diversified company would adopt less formal procedures, because the managers in these cases have more experience and functional knowledge than the subordinates, and they are able to achieve direct control upon most factors. On the other hand, in a company with diversified activity, it is less likely that top managers have functional information in a higher degree than the subordinate managers. Therefore, the planning process must be formulated to ensure a strict discipline for everyone involved in the decisional chain.

II. The general marketing plan

The classical marketing plan would follow the following scheme of 8 stages:

1. Declaring the mission: this is the planning stage when we establish the organizational orientations and intentions, thus providing a sense of direction. In most cases, this is a general presentation of the company’s intentions and almost has a philosophic character.

2. Establishing current objectives: it is essential for the organization to try to determine with preciseness the objectives to be reached. These objectives, in order to be viable, must be SMART. SMART is an acronym and stands for “Specific”, “Measurable”, “Attainable”, “Realistic” and “Timed”. The objectives must also convey the general organizational mission.

3. Gathering information: this stage is based on the concept of marketing audit. After performing the audit of the macro-environment by analyzing the STEP factors (social, technologic, economic and politic), we should turn the focus upon the immediate extern environment (the micro-environment) and analyze the competitive environment, the costs and the market. Finally, we will conclude with the SWOT analysis, by this way we will have a general view upon the internal environment compared to the external one. The SWOT analysis combine the two perspectives, from the inside and from the outside, because the Strengths and the Weaknesses are internal issues of an organization, while the Opportunities and Threads come from the outside.

4. Re-formulating objectives: after the close examination of data gathered in the previous stage, sometimes it is needed to re-formulate the initial objectives, in order to address all the issues that might have come up from the previous stage. The distance between the initial objective and the re-formulated objective will be covered by appropriate strategies. We must ensure the re-formulated objective is SMART as well.

5. Establishing strategies: several strategies are to be formulated, in order to cover the distance between what we want to achieve and what is possible to achieve, with the resources at our disposal. As we would usually have several options, we should analyze them and chose the one with more chances to achieve the marketing objectives.

6. Plan of actions: consists in a very detailed description of the procedures and means to implement the actions we want to take. For example, if the strategy implies a raise in advertising volume, the plan of actions should establish where the advertisements will be placed, the dates and frequency of the advertising campaigns, a set of procedures to evaluate their effectiveness. The actions we plan to take must be clearly formulated, measurable, and the results must be monitored and evaluated.

7. Implementation and control: consist in the series of activities that must be performed in order to run the marketing plan in accordance to the objectives set by the marketer. At this stage, it is critical to gain the support of all members if the organization, especially when the marketing plan is due to affect the organization from its grounds.

8. Performance measurement: constitutes the last but not the less important stage of the marketing plan, since we can achieve only what we can measure. In order to measure the performances achieved through the marketing plan, we need to constantly monitor each previous stage of the plan.

The marketing plan that has a feedback cycle, from 8th stage back to the 4th. That is because sometimes during the planning process, we might need to perform stages 4 to 8 several times before the final plan can be written.

III. The e-marketing plan

The e-marketing plan is built exactly on the same principles as the classical plan. There is no different approach, but there might be some formal differences given by the uniqueness of the internet environment. Many of these differences come from the necessity to ensure a high rate of responsiveness from the customers, since the e-world is moving faster and requires faster reaction from its companies, compared to the traditional offline marketplace.

Even though it is perfectly acceptable and is a common practice to use the 8-stage classic model for the e-marketing plan as well, you might want to consider the simplified version proposed by Chaffey, who identifies four major steps to build the e-marketing plan:

1. Strategic analysis: consists in continuous scanning of the macro- and micro-environment. The accent should fall on the consumers’ needs that change very rapidly in the online market, as well as on surveying the competitors’ actions and evaluating the opportunities offered by new technologies.

2. Defining strategic objectives: the organization must have a clear vision and establish if the media channels will complement the traditional ones, or will replace them. We must define specific objectives (don’t forget to check if they are SMART!) and we must also specify the contribution of the online activities to the organization’s turnover.

3. Formulating strategies – we do that by addressing the following essential issues:

- develop strategies towards the target markets;

- positioning and differentiating strategies;

- establish priorities of online activities;

- focus attention and efforts on CRM and financial control;

- formulate strategies for product development;

- develop business models with well-established strategies for new products or services, as well as pricing policies;

- necessity for some organizational restructuring;

- changes in the structure of communication channels.

4. Implementing strategies: includes careful execution of all necessary steps to achieve established objectives. It could refer re-launching of a website, promo campaigns for a new or rewritten site, monitoring website efficiency and many more.

Note: a common strategy to achieve e-marketing objectives is the communication strategy. The steps to built a coherent communication plan will be presented within a further article.

IV. The e-marketing plan (sample titles)

1. Executive Summary

a. overview upon present conjuncture;

b. key aspects of the strategic e-marketing plan.

2. Situational Analysis

a. characteristics of the e-market;

b. possible factors of success;

c. competitors’ analysis;

d. technological factors;

e. legal factors;

f. social factors;

g. possible problems and opportunities.

3. The e-Marketing Objectives

a. product profile;

b. target market;

c. sales objectives.

4. The e-Marketing Strategies

a. product strategies;

b. price strategies;

c. promotion strategies;

d. distribution strategies.

5. Technical Issues

a. website content;

b. website “searcheability”;

c. logging security (for customers and staff);

d. customer registration procedure;

e. multimedia;

f. autoresponders;

g. order forms and feedback forms;

h. access levels to online resources;

i. credit card transactions;

j. website hosting;

k. website publishing;

l. technical staff (size, requirements)

6. Appendix

7. Bibliography