Ensuring Strategic and Tactical Alignment in Your 2009 Marketing Plan

Okay, it’s early December and you’ve completed your 2009 marketing plan.  All tactics are neatly bucketed into branding vs. lead generation or acquisition vs. nurture while your budget focuses on what has worked in the past.  You’re ready to turn over your plan to the executive team for final approval.  But before you do, I’d like to challenge you by asking one simple question that begs to be answered…with each tactic, what will you tell the marketplace?

Such a simple question may not have a simple answer.

The challenge of building a solid marketing plan comes when you begin asking yourself key questions about the content of each tactic.  Of course, there are others that must be answered.  Among them… what audiences do you need to speak to?  How does your message change per segment?  What tone will you take?  What audience challenges will you address?

Now that we’re in a more strategic frame of mind, it’s time to take the next step.  To get started, walk away from your tactical plan, answer these key questions and complete the following action items:

* Segmentation: How would I segment my target audience?

Identify the best mix of industry, title, decision-making ability, location, or other unique demographics.

* Positioning and Key Messages: What pain points does my service or solution address and how will I communicate this as a benefit to my audience?

Determine your positioning strategy – unique strength, unique benefit, unique usage (user type or class type), competitive (advantage or disadvantage). Identify what anecdotal feedback or support data exists to validate this position.

* Testing – How will I gauge in-market performance?

Identify a test plan to determine in-market performance of creative, design, key messages, value proposition, offer, etc.

* Budget Optimization – How do I meet lead goals while generating qualified leads for each dollar invested?

Determine what media types will allow you to cost-effectively reach your target market.

Now…go back to your tactical plan and determine if a tactical shift is needed.  Specify how these vehicles will serve as your platform to reach your target audience, communicate your key value proposition and meet your lead goals.  Also, be sure to build in time to test that these tactical campaigns will resonate within your target market before full launch.

With your newly developed plan, not only do you have an internal guidance document, but you’ll also be set to plug in any third-party resources assisting in your marketing efforts with little ramp-up time.

Even if your plan already accounts for much of what’s asked here, it’s still a solid gut check to determine the effectiveness of your plan.  Though it sounds trite, the biggest misstep in marketing strategy can truly be to have no marketing strategy at all.

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