“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable” – Dwight Eisenhower

In a fast-moving world, brands want to get stuff done…quickly.

They want results: traffic, users, leads, sales, and brand awareness And they want it now.

Far too often, tactical execution happens without much if any planning.

For results to happen, actions need to be taken immediately. Let’s go, there’s no time like right now! 

In other words, it’s tactics before strategy.

Unfortunately, this approach is flawed.

The success that companies envision doesn’t materialize. Time, money and resources are wasted.

A company’s marketing activities are propelled by hunches, intuition and educated guesses. If something doesn’t work, something else is quickly embraced.

Not surprisingly, the results leave a lot to be desired.

But there is a better way.

The key to success is creating a roadmap for success, otherwise known as a strategic plan.

It provides companies with a clear idea of what they want to achieve, how it’s going to happen, and who’s responsible.

There’s no guessing, wishing or hoping.

Instead, a strategic plan shows the path forward so everyone moves in the same direction.

Not everything works. Not every activity is successful. But there is a cohesive and coordinated approach.

In my new book, Marketing Spark, I cover the key steps to developing a marketing plan:

1. Define your goals. What do you want to achieve? How is success benchmarked and measured? Is it attracting users to drive more advertising, generating leads that are nurtured into sales, or more brand awareness?

2. Who are the target audiences? Be super clear about the people who matter. As important, understand them inside out. How are buying decisions made? What are their pains, challenges, motivations, and dreams? What would make them look like a hero?

3. How does your brand stand out? How are your products unique or different? In an ultra-competitive landscape, it is easy to get lost in the crowd. It is important to identify and amplify the things that attract customers at a time when they have multiple options.

4. What marketing channels will be used? The marketing landscape is like an all-you-eat buffet. There are so many tempting options. Select the channels used by your customers – aka party where the party is happening. At the same time,  align your marketing activities with resources (money, time, people). With a limited budget, it’s impossible to be all things to all people so select the channels that you think deliver the best ROI.

5. Measure and optimize. Track what’s happening and how it compares with expectations. If something isn’t working, optimize its performance by making changes. You need to experiment to see what makes a difference. If a channel is still not working, try something else.

Marketing SparkWhen a company develops a marketing plan, it has a roadmap for success. Everyone involved knows the path forward. There are no guessing or wild stabs. Instead, marketing unfolds in a structured and disciplined way. Not everything will work. There will be obstacles and challenges, and plans will change. Some channels are tweaked or replaced by other channels, but it happens as part of an overarching marketing plan.

My book, Marketing Spark, is designed for entrepreneurs who want to improve their marketing knowledge and have the insight to know the type of marketing to embrace.

While Marketing Spark focuses on the importance of storytelling, messaging and strategy, it is also a workbook. It features templates, worksheets, and tools that make it easy for entrepreneurs to do marketing better.

Does your B2B technology company need to attract more high-quality leads? I can jump-start your marketing powered by storytelling. My services include the development of marketing plans, strategic messaging, brand storytelling,  and content marketing. Let’s have a conversation!