For many small business managers, finding the time and commitment to develop business marketing strategies is difficult. There are so many other obligations vying for our attention it is tempting to push formal strategy development to the back burner. Giving into that temptation, however, means putting your business at a disadvantage. Marketing strategies help point you toward the best marketing programs for your business.
Without strategies, you risk becoming unfocused in your marketing efforts, choosing programs that do not support general strategies. To be most effective, your marketing strategies should be integrated into your marketing plan (which in turn should be part of the business plan). By integrating strategies into your overall company plans, you can better achieve business objectives. Additionally, over time this will result in more consistent decision-making throughout the organization.
Integrating Marketing Strategies into the Marketing Plan A marketing plan is similar in structure to a business plan, but with a narrower focus. Marketing plans include overall objectives; marketing strategies; and marketing programs, each progressively narrower in scope.
- The objective addresses the big picture and sets the tone for your strategies. In general terms, your marketing plan objective answers the question “How will I overcome my main marketing challenge(s)?” If your company is a new Web-based business, for example, a main challenge may be figuring out how to use your Web site to better build client business. An objective, therefore, may be “To enhance online client service as well as build site awareness and interest with clients.”
- Marketing strategies support your objective. The strategies define general approaches you will take to meet your objective. For example, marketing strategies to support the above objective could include 1) improving online communication, information, and education, 2) building awareness of and interest in your company on the Internet, and 3) communicating the Web site’s existence and advantages to existing clients.
- Programs are the things you will do to bring your marketing strategies to life. Programs for strategy 2 in the above example (improving online communication, information, and education) could include 1) sharing experience and observations in your industry through participation in discussion boards, 2) offering an email newsletter, and 3) listing/submitting your site to targeted search engines and directories.
By keeping your business marketing strategies in mind as you initially choose marketing programs, then making adjustments throughout the year based on those strategies, you build a better foundation from which your business can grow.