A strategic marketing plan is only as effective as a strategic business plan. As a marketer, you can write your marketing plan without having a strategic business plan to reference, but it will not be as effective. Leadership in your company should have a strategic plan to maintain or grow their business — along with providing you the foundation upon which to build your marketing plan.
A strategic plan gives everyone in the company direction on where it’s headed in the future (six, twelve, eighteen, twenty-four, thirty-six, and forty-eight months). Both short- and long-term goals must be included. The strategic plan committee should consist of five to twelve people, but everyone in the company must have a general knowledge of the plan. Each employee should understand how they fit into the strategic plan of the company and how they are participating in achieving the goals. This is instrumental to the success of the plan.
Once this strategic business plan has been assembled, communicated, and implemented, a strategic marketing plan must be created. By knowing the overall direction of the company, you will better be able to write and implement an effective marketing strategy. This ensures you, as the marketer or business developer, are spending your time in the right places according to the company’s strategy.
For example, if your firm decides to grow its healthcare studio, then part of your strategic marketing plan would be increasing your firm’s visibility to this market. This could be done in several ways:
- Presentations at healthcare industry trade shows
- Sponsoring healthcare conferences
- Writing and getting published in healthcare newsletters/magazines/blogs
- Creating a checklist for hospital administrators on selecting a design firm
These strategies would help reach your firm’s goals of gaining additional healthcare market share. Being as specific and focused as possible in both the strategic business plan and marketing plan will lead to much better results. You will also see these results more quickly when you’re focused and targeted with your plan.
In the event that your leadership doesn’t have a strategic plan, encourage them to write and implement one. Not only will it help you as the marketer/business developer, but it will also help everyone understand the overall direction and goals. By involving the employees in the process, results will also be better. Employee engagement is a big piece of any firm’s strategic plan. The leadership team, as well as others who are going to be challenged to grow the firm, need to be involved in the strategic planning process. You can ask all employees for ideas and feedback, but the strategic planning team will be ultimately responsible for writing and implementing the plan. The plan will then be communicated to all employees along with how they’ll play a part in the implementation.
If your leadership is not interested in writing and implementing a strategic business plan, you have two choices. You can leave the firm and find another firm that believes in the value of a strategic plan, or you can write your own marketing and business development plan without the strategic plan. As I mentioned earlier, this is more challenging but it can be done. After writing the strategic marketing plan, share this with your firm’s leadership. Hopefully, this will motivate them to get started on a business strategic plan! By showing them your written marketing plan, you’ve demonstrated the importance of setting future goals along with giving them the opportunity to change or give input on the marketing plan.
When I took a position with a previous employer, I stressed the importance of writing and implementing a strategic business plan. Within the first six months of my employment, I was given the authority to hire an outside consultant to help our team with developing a strategic business plan. Once this was done, I knew where I needed to focus our time and money for the marketing plan. This made my job and goal-setting much easier, because I aligned the marketing department with the overall business strategy. It was cohesive and consistent.
Regardless of where your firm stands with its business strategic plan, a marketing plan should be written and implemented. Having direction and goals provides a road map to know where you are going and how you are going to get there. A marketing plan shouldn’t be independent from your firm but rather a component of your overall strategic business plan. Conveying the value and importance of a marketing plan shows you are thinking about the future of the firm. This displays your dedication, your leadership skills, and your willingness to think about the growth of the firm. Write your strategic marketing plan and then produce results. Your leadership will be impressed by your commitment!
Lindsay Young, MBA, CPSM
nu marketing, llc