Develop a marketing and marketing communications strategy and plan for small and medium businesses

Planning for the year ahead is never an easy task. The lack of resources (people, time, budget), keeping abreast of what's going on in your market, getting quality leads and improving brand awareness and reputation have become increasingly difficult for all organizations - whether for-profit or not-for-profit. This has become especially true for American CEOs who are concerned about the uncertainties not only national but also international.

It is essential to develop a marketing and marketing communication strategy

This should be your priority. Without a strategy for a plan, there are far too many opportunities to stray from the right path and chew your investment. Your RCI will suffer. Consider the following to focus your efforts when developing your strategy and plan:

1. Determining, understanding and verifying your target customers and prospects should be your priority. To improve profitability and ROI, you need to know what your audience wants and what they need, how they perceive your brand and how they stand up to the competition.

Be careful to avoid internal "myths" and "opinions" of the industry and the company. Use primary and secondary research to understand your audience. With so much information available on companies and brands, it is truly the age of the consumer and will remain so for a very long time.

2. In addition, as part of your knowledge of your audience, determine the size and scope of the various sub-segments that exist today and that will exist tomorrow. For example, does your audience include women, Asians or Hispanics? If so, examine the dramatic growth of these segments of the population and determine if your brand should pay particular attention to them.

In addition, recognize that the millennia (23% of the American population) are not a homogeneous group. Among the youngest (20 to 28 years), 40% currently live without rent with their family, while among the oldest (29 to 35 years), 43% have already bought a house. With that in mind, how should your strategy be different if you target adults 55 and over (21% of the American population)?

3. Once you clearly understand your audience, develop your unique brand position. To do this, create a brand positioning statement. The statement is a succinct description of the main target audience the brand is aimed at and a compelling picture of how you want your audience to perceive the brand. Does that seem simple to you? Take a few minutes and try to answer the four components of your positioning:

  1. The target audience, in very precise details
  2. The category in which you fill and its relevance for customers
  3. The advantage and the point of difference of the brand
  4. A reason to believe for the client - the most convincing proof

All marketing and marketing communications should flow from this positioning, and this positioning should be fully understood and adopted by all employees, sales representatives, partners and management.

4. Improving brand awareness is very important, but this is only the first step. You must also create an exceptional customer experience at each point of contact with your brand. And that means creating a brand defense at all levels of contact. Develop brand champions at all levels of purchase and redemption to improve return on investment.

Make sure these influencers understand, believe and can fully articulate the premises of your brand. And give them the training and the tools to credibly convey their trust.

Development of a targeted marketing and marketing communications plan and budget

After the hard work of developing a meaningful strategy, it must be recognized that it is equally important to develop a specific plan and budget. Consider the following:

1. You must be media neutral and open-minded in developing your plan and budget. It is extremely important to understand the difference between "efficiency" and "effectiveness", and not to get caught up in the latest new fashionable tactic.

Whatever specific marketing tactic or type of digital or traditional media you are evaluating, keep in mind that efficiency does not necessarily lead to effective results. Additionally, and most importantly, the best source of leverage in marketing communications is the quality of the message, not the marketing tactic.

2. The scope and diversity of marketing tactics and marketing communications has grown faster than the ability to measure some of them. Marketers are now spending money without knowing how it affects their profitability and return on investment! Consider the variety of ways in which nearly $ 450 billion is expected to be spent in the United States in 2018:

  • Sales promotion ($ 83 billion), telemarketing ($ 60 billion), direct mail (($ 46 billion) and events ($ 40 billion) highlight planned spending on marketing services in the United States in 2018;
  • The Internet ($ 78 billion), television ($ 68 billion) and the combination of radio, newspapers and magazines ($ 47 billion) are expected to be at the top of the major media spending categories in the states United in 2018.

And while it may surprise you, 90 percent of consumers (and 94 percent of millennia) still use coupons. Coupons come from various online and traditional media, but email is the most popular. Why are marketers still using coupons? The answer is simple: because they are effective in guiding the purchase. When developing your own plan and budget, determine and recognize the effectiveness of all marketing tactics, not just their effectiveness.

Marketing and marketing communications consultants focused on return on investment

If you are like most small and medium-sized businesses, you and your team may not have the expertise or the time to develop a performance-based marketing communications and marketing strategy, plan, or budget. invested capital.

Even the big global brands are looking for external advisers. In my May article, I talked about the spectacular growth in management and accounting consulting practices (33% increase in American revenues) at the expense of traditional global advertising agencies (0.3% increase in American revenues ). One of the reasons for the growth of consultants in 2017 is their focus - not on trends or on the news - but on marketing effectiveness and marketing communications, profitability and return on investment.

While you cannot afford the big global consultants, you should consider hiring a marketing and / or marketing communications consultant. The type of people you should hire should:

  • Focus on RCI, with significant experience in industries, brands b2b and b2c, small and large, as well as for-profit and non-profit organizations
  • Be media neutral, non-political, down-to-earth, be ready to be part of a team and "say things as they are" for the franchise to flourish
  • have the possibility of calling on other professional specialists if necessary, so that overheads are not a permanent expense
  • Have strong convictions to measure what has been done and to measure what will be done to improve ROI, perhaps including a verification of marketing communications

In today's challenging environment, more attention to strategy, planning and budgeting can go a long way to stay ahead of the competition and improve brand profitability. And the fresh eyes of a consultant can go a long way in building a meaningful future for your brand.

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