Three basic steps when planning marketing. By Mark Blezard
Having a sales and marketing strategy is vital. However, confusing the two is dangerous. So, if you are an owner-operator, building an empire, here's a few words to help position the two.
Firstly, it is rare that a 'sales & marketing' strategy will work. The two are better off being planned separately, just as your departments will probably evolve from growth. Let me expand upon this. In SMEs, the sales department typically leads the marketing division. They bring back orders coupled with valuable market insights. What's selling, what's not, and what the customer is asking for. This is very much the norm for a start-up business, and often the reason for the formulation of a 'Sales & Marketing Manager' position.
Then, as the organisation grows, the positions tend to switch. Marketing departments start to dictate the sales direction based on their research. They break into new markets and deliver the 'sales story' together with supporting material for the sales force to deploy. Working more closely with R&D for new product development, they test markets and glean customer feedback before devising a strategy that will keep the sales executives busy.
So, a starting point, which type of organisation are you? Who's driving the sales? In every company I've ever started, I've fronted the sales and the marketing but the marketing efforts were to fuel the driving sales force. However, if is worth reviewing first as some start-ups are marketing led.
Having worked out who's pulling and who is pushing, you are ready to plan strategies.
For the SMEs, a marketing campaign often falls into the lead generation plan, feeding sales executives with inbound enquiries. Is that you? Here's a tip to identify the different types of marketing programmes, if you find yourself being called upon to support sales. Go to your LinkedIn profile and the 'Advertise' link. Start building a campaign. Right from the get-go, you'll be asked what type of campaign you are looking for, lead gen., awareness, traffic to your website, etc. The social media giants have done the work for you in terms of which paths are available.
Now that you know who is pulling and pushing, and you've identified the purpose of your marketing strategy, the third step is to identify how you will measure success. This is absolutely vital because without it you will miss the opportunity to repeat successful activities, risk wasting budget, and be unable to improve upon what works.
This is a very basic overview of the three headline steps in building your plan. Each step has multiple layers but we all have to start somewhere. In summary, identify;
1) Who's pulling and who is pushing.
2) The purpose of your campaign.
3) How to measure
And finally, your sales plan. Now that you have the 'pull/push' position of your organisation, your sales plan should reflect how your sales force engage with new prospects. Are they cold calling or receiving leads? This, in turn, should help you with how you organise your executives (hunters and farmers vs new markets and account management) and what sales training will be required to maximise effectiveness.