Guest blogger- Phoenix Business Journal
Every company needs a marketing strategy that flows into their larger business plan, yet it takes a little thought and time to put it all together.
Unless you have a compelling reason such as launching a new company or product, the best time to start the brainstorming process is when work slows down and people are apt to take vacation. The tension eases and the creative juices start to flow. These are the moments when people suddenly realize, “Ya know, we really ought to…”
For businesses that have never created a marketing strategy, there is a simple methodology that is used by most marketing agencies. In fact, I was reminded by this concept while enjoying the Small Business Series webinar by Hubspot, a leading interactive applications provider.
While it may feel good to write out an entire plan, this methodology allows you to draft your marketing strategy using bullet points on a PowerPoint presentation. Hubspot uses a two-page Excel spreadsheet that asks a few questions and calculates your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for you.
Regardless of how you choose to articulate your marketing strategy, what’s important is that everyone in the company understand your strategy and buy in so that they too support and participate in it.
• Step 1: Identify your challenges. Some people even conduct a SWOT analysis that identifies your strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities. Here’s an example.
1. Great sales team
2. Very good product
1. Low scores on customer service
1. Competition has key improvements on product and are working on more.
1. Strong Facebook community
2. Competition’s employees are unhappy and could be recruited
All of your employees, down to your receptionist, should participate in the SWOT analysis in some way. It will drive honesty into the discussion.
• Step 2: Identify your goals for key time frames. These could include:
1. Increase sales leads by 5 percent every month to increase profits.
2. Reduce the time to close a sale by 5 minutes or one month.
3. Improve employee morale to enhance customer service ratings.
Notice that all of these goals include defined benchmarks which can be measured. You would know whether you increased sales by 5 percent simply by looking at your monthly profit and loss statement. Now you’ve got your employees actively working on your profit line.
• Step 3: Identify strategies and tactics to achieve your goals. It’s important that each strategy track back to a goal; otherwise, you’re wasting your time on pointless activities. So while it’s tempting for employees to suggest creating a new blog, make sure they are able to demonstrate why such an effort would move the needle on these benchmarks. Using the PowerPoint structure can help. See the image above.
• Step 4: Assign responsibilities and reporting deadlines. Plans are best executed when specific individuals are tasked with the resulting responsibilities, given deadlines to report and faced with a performance review. One idea is to have employees give their reports once per month at a staff meeting. Then all employees can be focused on your bottom line, and when efforts fail they can jump in to help. Equally important, include your business goals into your annual performance reviews with employees. Most bosses are thrilled to give a employee a 5 percent raise when they have proven to increase sales by 5 percent per month.
This simple effort of creating a marketing strategy – even if you don’t have a marketing department – can do wonders for establishing clear goals and activities for your entire company, not to mention yourself. Make it an annual opportunity to benefit from those creative juices that flow after a vacation.
Meredith Munger is a principal at Munger & Company Marketing. Email your questions to Meredith@meredithmunger.com.