Someone once said this to me during a major project that was at risk of going seriously off track, just as we were to execute the final phase. It’s stuck with me, and guided me through many projects I’ve steered since.

It’s also the core of my approach to marketing strategy. Without defined goals, and a plan of how to measure and achieve them, all you have is a hope that your business will grow, that your marketing activity will deliver the results you need, that your actions will lead to…something good for your business!

Defining what that something is and planning to achieve it is critical. I’ve been asked before to define the marketing strategy and plan for a business with only a vague business plan. That’s a tough gig! Without more than a hope that the business will grow the marketing plan will struggle to achieve traction and deliver the results the business needs.

Here’s how to get started:

Start with a robust business plan. You need to define who you are and what you’re looking to achieve with whom. What are your core products or services? Who are your ideal customers and clients? It’s not enough to say, “my revenue is now $X million per annum. In five years it’ll be $Y million.” The business plan needs to set out how you’re going to get there too, including what’s important to you and your business.

Align your marketing plan to your business plan. Your marketing plan should take its strategic direction from your business plan, and define the tactics that will help you reach, communicate and convince those ideal customers and clients that you and your products/services are the right choice for them. If your business plan says that your ideal client is a small business with <$2 million turnover in the landscaping industry, your marketing plan will be geared to deliver messages that resonate with this group where they will be receptive to it.

Execute the plan single-mindedly. Even though great opportunities will come along, you need to be prepared to say no if they don’t support your objectives and the plan you’ve defined. If the opportunity helps you reach your target audience with your core message in a complementary or better way than a planned activity – pounce! If it’s slightly off track – either reaching a different audience or delivering a confused message – back away Disco Stew! The budget you’ve allocated to marketing activities (indeed, all business activities) should be managed so that your resources are being effectively employed to deliver the business and marketing objectives. Let the plans do their job and stick to them – that’s what they’re there for.

Be prepared to be flexible. Of course, the single minded execution will only get you so far. You must be prepared to measure your results and review your business plan and associated marketing plan regularly and adjust it to suit the changing world we live in.

Of course, and as always, if you’re in need of strategic marketing advice, or help with executing your marketing plan, get in touch. I’d love to hear from you! Just remember, “hope is not a strategy”.

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