I had always considered the first step to developing a strategic marketing plan to be establishing a company’s goals and objectives. After all, how do you put a strategically based tactical plan together if you don’t know what you are trying to accomplish? However, that all changed a few years ago after a meeting I had with a company owner, who wanted to increase brand awareness and drive more qualified leads, when he said:
“Jonathan, I have no problem investing six figures for a capital piece of equipment in my plant or new software for my employees if it will make us be more efficient and profitable, but I need to be careful with adding expenses to my operations budget for things like marketing”.
Interesting…new equipment and software is an investment, but marketing is an expense.
Prior to that meeting this blog series would have been titled Four Essential Steps to Developing a Strategic Marketing Plan, but since that meeting, I have added a very important fifth step, and it bats lead-off in my order.
Step One – Determine Your Marketing Philosophy
I always find it a tad bit perplexing when business owners, who want to aggressively grow their business, tell me that they view marketing as an operational expense. They never seem to get the irony.
To me, categorizing marketing as an expense is misguided. Expenses are necessary evils that are required to run a business. And even though they are a mainstay on every financial statement, we are relentless in our pursuit to reduce or eliminate them. This is where the irony comes into play. If marketing is an expense, and we are always looking to reduce/eliminate expenses, isn’t it counterintuitive to try to grow a business by doing less to promote it?
Companies that are successfully in building brand awareness, driving more leads and securing new business as a result of their marketing efforts all share a common philosophy—they view marketing as an investment, not an expense. Why? Because, unlike expenses, we are always looking to maximize our investments, treating them with optimism and patience while properly supporting them with the necessary means and opportunities to yield the results we seek.
So if you are serious about leveraging marketing as a means to grow your business, determining your company’s marketing philosophy is a critical first step. Doing so will dictate how much time, money and resources you are willing to invest in your company, directly impact the structure of your marketing plan and define your commitment to business growth.
Come back next week for the second essential step for developing a strategic marketing plan. Afraid you may forget? Subscribe to our blog to get the latest posts delivered right your in box.
If you’d like to learn more about how to develop a strategic marketing plan, feel free to send us a message or give us a call at 440-449-6800.