Your Strategic Plan For Generating New Business
Your strategic plan defines your direction and determines how you will go about achieving specific business goals.
Typically, a strategic plan also includes a summary of the actions to be taken to generate new business. In most cases, a marketing plan contains more detail than is appropriate for a strategic plan.
As a result, in most businesses, marketing plans tend to be stand-alone components. Unfortunately, seemingly separate from the overall strategic plan, stand-alone marketing plans can be wrongly perceived as less important than other ‘more strategic’ business functions.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Many people consider marketing to be the most important business function. Marketing is about generating new business. New business is necessary to replace the cash flow that ends when clients stop hiring. New business is also necessary to help finance growth and development.
Without a continuous inflow of new business few businesses can survive, let alone thrive.
Not only can marketing be considered the most important business function, it can also be one of the most critical strategic elements.
Given its critical role in the success of a business. a marketing plan is in effect, a strategic plan for generating new business.
In practice, there are two main elements in this plan: strategy and elements.
A Strategic Plan for Marketing
The strategic element begins with a thorough analysis of your current situation. This analysis will be the basis upon which your marketing strategies will developed.
This scan will help clarify specific marketing needs. To identify and clarify these needs, ask yourself questions like:
What is your biggest marketing challenge?
What is the best possible outcome to this challenge?
What would it take to bring about this outcome?
If you need some help identifying specific marketing issues, you might check out this assessment.
Once you identified specific needs, the next step is to gather as much relevant information as possible about these needs. This information be generated from careful market research, online and offline.
Before starting your online research, do some fast research on strategic planning. There is lots of information that will help clarify the kind of information you will need.
Online research will help you learn more about industry issues and trends that are influencing businesses like yours.
Information can be gathered offline from potentially helpful people such as employees, clients, suppliers and network contacts. Provided you keep your conversations focused in the needs you are researching, you will probably receive a surprising amount of useful information from these sources.
Consolidate Your Information
This consolidation will combine the issues that you identified in the scan with the information gathered in your research. Ideally, this consolidation will take the form of a written summary. In effect, this summary will take the form of a SWOT analysis, evaluating your relative strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
It will also include statements identifying your mission, vision and values. It would also define the goals to be achieved and strategies to be apply in order to achieve these goals.
Once again, do some online research to familiarize yourself with the elements and format of a strategic plan.
Some people are quite comfortable undertaking the actions outlined above. Others prefer the assistance of a consultant.
There is no approach that is right for everyone. The right approach for you is the one that works best for you.
The following list details the most common marketing strategies for professionals.
It is unlikely that all of these strategies will be either appropriate or necessary at start up.
The planning process will include prioritizing the strategies and scheduling their respective launch.
This section describes the clients you love to serve… and are good at satisfying.
It defines demographic profile factors such as age, gender and socio-economic status. these factors help identify clients’ precise wants and needs as they relate to your services.
Unique Selling Proposition
Your unique selling proposition represents your brand which distinguishes your services from those of your competitors. It also promises ideal customers the benefits that they will enjoy as a result of your services.
Pricing & Positioning Strategy
Your pricing and positioning strategy defines your market position. The ideal market position ranges from low-end budget or economy to high end luxury and top quality.
The right market position for you is the one that is most consistent with your core values and beliefs.
This section of the plan will detail this position and how your pricing will support it.
Your distribution plan details how ideal customers will buy your services.
This section of your plan will outline different ways in which you might be able to connect with and serve your ideal clients. .
Your marketing materials will help promote your products to ideal clients and referral sources. Among others, they include your website, print brochures and catalogs.
This section identifies the necessary marketing materials.
Content strategy refers to the planning, development, and management of content—written or in other media. This critical strategy defines and drives content marketing.
This strategic approach is focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience of ideal customers. It is also key in recruiting and retaining an effective network of distribution partners.
Content marketing is today’s most popular and effective marketing strategy.
Research indicates that 86% of business to business (B2B) marketers and 77% of business to consumer (B2C) marketers apply content marketing in a strategic manner.
Your content strategy will maximize the overall effectiveness of your strategic plan for marketing.
Online Marketing Strategy
Today, most customers go online to find and/or review new products to purchase. Having the right online marketing strategy can help you secure new customers and gain competitive advantage.
The four key components to your online marketing strategy are as follows:
- Keyword Strategy: identify what keywords you would like to optimize your website for.
- Search Engine Optimization Strategy: document updates you will make to your website so it shows up more prominently for your top keywords.
- Paid Online Advertising Strategy: write down the online advertising programs will you use to reach target customers.
- Social Media Strategy: document how you will use social media websites to attract customers.
Joint Ventures & Partnerships
Joint ventures and partnerships are agreements you forge with other organizations to help reach new clients or better monetize existing clients.
Think about what customers buy before, during and/or after they buy from your company. Many of the companies who sell these products and/or services could be good partners. Document such companies in this section of your marketing plan and then reach out to try to secure them.
This element details how you will reach new clients. It considers various alternatives and identifies which ones will most effectively allow you to reach your target clients.
There are numerous promotional approaches such as media advertising, trade show marketing, press releases, online advertising, and event marketing.
Conversion strategies refer to the techniques you employ to turn potential clients into paying clients. This section documents which conversion-boosting strategies you will use.
A strong client referral program could revolutionize your success. For example, if every one of your clients referred one new client, your client base would constantly grow.
However, rarely will you get such growth unless you have a formalized referral strategy. For example, you need to determine when you will ask clients for referrals, what if anything you will give them as a reward, etc.
Too many professionals spend too much time and energy trying to secure new clients instead of helping existing clients buy more often.
By using retention strategies such as a monthly newsletter or client loyalty program, you can increase revenues and profits by getting customers to purchase from you more frequently over time.
This section will identify appropriate approaches that will help retain clients.
As is the case with developing the strategic component of the plan, some people are quite comfortable with the do-it-yourself approach. Others prefer the assistance of a consultant.
Once again, the right approach for you is the one that works best for you.
In and of itself your strategic plan will not generate any new business. It must be implemented.
The best approach to implementing a strategic plan is to include implementation strategies in the plan itself. These strategies are simple and straight-forward. In defining who does what and the timeline for taking these actions, they serve as an implementation check-list.
Ideally this check list will ensure that the appropriate implementation actions will be undertaken on a timely basis.
Some people benefit from the support of a marketing coach. The element of accountability to a third party is frequently a stronger incentive to take required actions than personal self-discipline.
Implementation of a strategic plan is a continuous process. Not only does it ensure the effective application of appropriate marketing strategies, it generates useful feedback for mid-course and future amendments to a strategic plan.
All things considered, a carefully prepared strategic plan for generating new business is one of the most important tools in any marketing toolkit.