Today, businesses operate in hostile and increasingly complex environments. The ability of a business to achieve profitable results is impacted by dozens of factors, many of which are inter-connected. It often makes sense to try to bring some order to this chaos by understanding and applying a rigor to your strategic marketing planning. A strategic business plan combined with a robust, solid marketing plan can improve company efficiency, which helps improve revenue and market share growth, and minimizes expenses — all of which lead to higher overall profitability.

With the pace of the technology channel, it is easier than ever to get caught up in the ‘marketing idea of the week’ syndrome. Planning starts with strategy (the plan to achieve an overall goal) and completes with tactics (the methods for achieving the strategy). Often it seems like we start with the tactics and forget to ask why we are doing these marketing initiatives in first place. We also don’t allow ourselves time to plan accordingly with a 3-month or 6-month window of opportunity. Unfortunately this is not effective.

A marketing plan is useful to many people in a business – not just the marketing department. It can help professionals to:

Identify sources of competitive advantage

Gain commitment to a strategy

Get resources needed to invest in and build the business

Inform key channel stakeholders

Set objectives and milestones

Monitor and measure performance

For a truly effective marketing strategy, you must study and evaluate your business and its target audience, then create a plan of action, follow through with and measure it. Marketing teams capture this information initially in the form of a creative brief after collaborating with key vendor contacts and our business unit team members (product manager/director, business development manager, etc.) to identify marketing project opportunities.

Don’t over-think this. Strategic marketing planning is important—but it shouldn’t be all consuming. Taking time to review what has been done in the past and how effective it’s been, thinking about new opportunities, talking to our sales reps and re-sellers customers, scoping out the competition, and writing down a plan can be incredibly valuable. It defines who you serve, what problems you solve, and how you solve them differently from everyone else.

Creating a solid marketing plan can be the difference between a successful marketing campaign and a failed one. As most people have already experienced, marketing can be an expensive and complicated endeavor. Let’s not rely on hope as our marketing strategy.

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