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How To Develop A Strategic Marketing Plan

How To Develop A Strategic Marketing Plan

Have you just been given the task of mapping out your company’s strategic marketing plan? 

It can be daunting if you haven’t done it before. Fear not, we’re going to share 15 years’ worth of experience developing strategic marketing plans to help you focus your efforts and avoid going down any rabbit holes that will burn your time and energy, without producing results.

strategic marketing plan

Here’s Mezzanine’s 3 step process. It’s effective, simple and structured.


Step 1: Assess the Current Situation

Take a close and honest look at your company’s current business and marketing performance.

  1. Review your past marketing activities and results. Some common marketing metrics to benchmark:
  • Revenue generated and % of revenue that came from marketing
  • Number of inquiries or qualified leads
  • Conversion rates from one stage of the buying process to the next
  • Call-to-action completions (eg views of a video, downloads of a whitepaper or attendees for webinars)
  • Website visits and path through the website
  • Number of events and attendees
  • Number of articles or mentions in publications
  • Size of prospect community (ie names in the CRM)

What worked well in your previous marketing? What didn’t?

Have past marketing efforts been consistently executed and have they consistently delivered results?

  1. Review your current business context
    • Is your company well known in the market or unknown?
    • Does the company have a reputation for anything (positive, negative, neutral)? How will this affect your ability to grow revenues?
  2. What are the business goals and revenue targets for next year?
    • What is the growth goal? If it’s aggressive, that will guide your marketing plan. If incremental growth is expected, what’s the appropriate level of marketing effort?


Step 2: Evaluate the External Environment

Review the external market in which your company operates. Have circumstances changed?

  1. Identify changes such as new regulatory requirements, emerging trends, changes in customer needs, increasing / decreasing price sensitivity and new competitors. How will these changes impact the business and marketing?
  2. If necessary, validate market perceptions by doing customer and competitor research.
    • If you do this step, do it well. It shouldn’t be a lip-service task. Assign someone to do it and give them enough time to complete the task thoroughly (6 – 8 weeks).
      • Interview customers in person or over the phone with long-form questions. Don’t do a quick survey, you’ll miss the nuances that are most telling.
      • Review competitors by looking at their websites and asking customers what they are seeing and hearing among competitors.

Step 3: Marketing Strategy and Tactical Planning

The final step consists of reaffirming or refining your strategy and translating that strategy into tactics. It also means laying out an action plan, budget and scorecard.

There are 5 parts to a good strategic marketing plan:

  1. Strategy:
  • Reaffirm/revise your target markets. Who are your ideal customers?
  • Reaffirm/revise your marketing position – 2-3 sentences that clearly articulate how your firm differentiates itself from the competition and provides value to customers.
  • Define your messaging – what are the triggers / hot button issues that will attract your target customers’ attention?
  1. Tactics
    • Based on your strategy, what are the tactics that will accomplish your goals?
      1. If your customers are increasingly online, are you using enough digital marketing? Should you decrease the number of events like tradeshows that you attend so that you can shift budget to digital. Are your customers on social media? Have you been producing enough content to get on the radar of new potential customers?
      2. We often advise small and mid-sized companies to choose 3-5 marketing tactics that will yield the greatest results and stick with those. It helps stay on track and ensure their marketing dollars are being put to best use. If you have experience managing more tactics, that’s fine. But don’t underestimate the complexity of multiple marketing iniatives.
  1. Calendar
    • Develop the timeline on which the tactics will be implemented. Don’t do everything at once – marketing activities should take place over the course of the year. Be realistic with your resource allocation.
  2. Budget
  • Inevitably, you’ll want to do more marketing than you have dollars available. Defining the budget requires evaluating your growth goals and your cash available. For every dollar you spend in marketing you should be generating more than a dollar in profit. Do you know how to calculate marketing ROI?
  1. Scorecard
  • Define how you will measure success. Set both ‘Activity’ goals (eg how many press releases will you produce) as well as ‘Results’ goals (eg how many leads you will generate from your next Adwords campaign).

Keep your process simple and focused, and you’ll have a clear and structured strategic marketing plan that will guide your team and efforts for the coming year. Good luck and good marketing!