What’s Your B2B Marketing Plan Strategy?

B2B Sales and MarketingToday’s business environment of ready, fire, aim, often causes us to react quickly and skip time-consuming steps like market planning. But I urge you not to do this. Although every organization will receive unique benefits, following are six great reasons why you should take the time to craft a marketing plan strategy that will give you a great foundation for success.

1.  Establishes your marketing priorities. This is very important in the interactive marketing era since there are an increasing number of methods and media that you can use to share your promotional message.

2.  Provides you with a timetable for implementing each marketing activity.

3.  Gives you specific targets to aim for in the form of marketing objectives.

4.  Serves as a barometer for measuring the progress or lack of progress in achieving your objectives.

5.  Helps the organization discover the most cost-effective marketing activities for promoting its products and/or services.

6.  Gives the marketing team a blueprint for action and specifies the responsibilities of each person involved in its implementation.

Yet, despite the fact that failing to perform the planning function can lead to disaster, many of us neglect this discipline. Preparing a marketing plan strategy is hard work with few shortcuts and it is an easy activity to forego when more pleasant and time-sensitive tasks beckon. This is why market planning must happen at the beginning of a product introduction or budget cycle.

Many marketers also lack the knowledge to be effective planners. University courses on the subject offer confusion, not enlightenment, because they approach the subject with far more complexity than is needed by the average B2B marketing manager or business owner. Also, many courses approach market planning from a large company, product sales, media-based perspective, which is hard to adapt to situations faced by small- to mid-sized organizations, as well as those involved in service businesses.

Another problem with planning is that it tends to put the B2B marketing manager on the spot.  If the plan is loaded with measurable objectives (as it should be), the optimistic manager may find his own figures used against him. As Yogi Berra put it, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” Many people have painfully discovered that there is a certain comfort in ambiguity. In some organizations, the penalty for missing a planned objective is so high that managers quickly learn how to play the game called “aim high and promise low.”

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Preparing a marketing plan strategy is also trickier in times of rapid change, such as those we are now facing. Circumstances change so often that marketers hesitate to commit, preferring to operate by “seat-of-the-pants” methods. Although seemingly effective in the short term, this reactive management style rarely leads to long-term success.

It is also important to realize that market planning does not have to be a drawn-out, painful process. This is true whether the organization is a small start-up company with a few thousand dollars in seed capital, or a large company with hundreds of millions or billions in assets. The basic market planning steps are the same for all organizations, even though the level of detail required varies. When in doubt, you should err on the side of simplicity, since simple plans are easier to implement.

There is a lot more that can be said about creating a strategic marketing plan. But the point is to begin now, iterate and improve over time.

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