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  • Writer's pictureHaines Consulting Group

Three Critical Elements of a Marketing Plan

Planning is a powerful tool. And when utilised effectively, a marketing plan can unlock a brand’s true capabilities.

Despite this, no two marketing plans are the same, nor are the objectives of any two brand’s the same. Therefore, every marketing plan will be unique in its structure, its objectives and its key details. However, there are three key, critical elements which should be developed in your marketing plan. Within each of the three critical elements, three thought-provoking questions have been provided to help guide your strategic efforts in the right direction.

Situation Analysis

It is impossible to begin planning if you are not aware of the current situation, both internally and externally to the business. Your situation analysis should begin with a thorough review of the past performance of your business, and drawing upon past accomplishments - and failures - in order to extract key insights that can guide future decisions. However, your situation analysis should not only focus inwards. All successful marketers know they must have their finger on the pulse of society, constantly evaluating emerging trends and shifts in consumer demand and innovating creative ways to capitalise upon opportunities the broader macro-environment provides. Utilise the following questions:

- What is my business currently doing well, and currently struggling in?

- Will cash flows be conducive to marketing efforts, and how can it be maintained?

- What broader shifts and trends will affect the goals or strategy of my business?

Target Audience

For many brands, their target market is identified at inception and never revised or further segmented. This is a key mistake. As your brand evolves, so to does your market, and the needs and desires of your customers. Their uses for your product (or service) evolves, the way they consume information evolves and even their purchasing habits evolve. When planning your marketing strategy, your target market must always be re-assessed. And whilst understanding the key demographics of your target market is a start, understanding their psychographic traits is where marketers make their money. Search deeper than face value, and segment based on behaviour not demographics. Utilise the following questions:

- What behaviours are characteristic of my target audience(s), and how can they be segmented?

- How does my target audience engage with both traditional and digital media?

- What are the underlying needs or desires of my target audience to consume my product (or service)?

Goals & Objectives

What is a plan, if it has no end goal to reach? Without a clear, actionable objective - what are you actually planning for? Contrary to popular belief, stating your goals and objectives does not need to be the first thing you complete when undertaking a marketing plan. In reality, it is only after understanding your strengths, weaknesses, financial capabilities and market trends that you can truly create accurate and achievable goals. You must, however, seek to integrate your marketing objectives with broader organisational objectives - to be effective they must be complementary. If you wish to increase sales, what is a reasonable and quantitative target for your marketing efforts to achieve? Utilise the following questions:

- Given the current capabilities, what reasonable outcome can my business achieve?

- What is the point of difference or superior added value of my business compared to competitors?

- What do I want my audience to do after viewing my marketing content?

It goes without saying, that planning your marketing efforts can be just as challenging, if not more so, than implementing the marketing strategy itself. Extracting key information and insights is one thing, but cultivating relevant information into actionable strategies is a difficult combination of art and science. For those who need assistance, contact Haines Consulting Group in order to find a workable solution.

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