What is a Strategic Action Plan for Marketing and Why It is Better?

 According to a Manta poll of 1,115 small business owners, less than half (49 percent) have devised a formal strategic action plan — a detailed strategy that can reveal target customers, key marketing channels and local reach. Lack of budget (51 percent), knowledge (18 percent) and time to dedicate to marketing (15 percent) are among small business owners’ top barriers to crafting a marketing strategy.

According to a survey of 350 small and medium business (SMB) owners (Outbound Engine), 50% do not have a marketing plan.

  • 25% of respondents are unsure of how they plan to grow their businesses
  • 55% of SMB owners spend less than 5% of annual revenue on marketing

81% percent of respondents who invested between 5% and 10% of annual revenue in marketing said they experienced revenue growth as opposed to 50% growth for those who spent under 5% of revenue.

“The plan is nothing, planning is everything.”  Dwight D. Eisenhower.

If you’re awake and breathing, it’s obvious we’re living in an unprecedented time of innovation and changing markets. Depending on the type of business or marketing you run, a good planning approach may be much smarter (and valuable) than simply writing a plan.

The right strategic marketing planning process will force an examination of tough questions, questions you may not have an answer to, questions you should be asking. Most importantly, a planning process is the opportunity to challenge assumptions that have become so-called facts. 

“This is how we have to operate;” “we’ve always done it this way;” “we have had past success this way.” You’ve heard these statements, maybe even said them as reasons to avoid the time, investment and painful self-examination of a deeper dive into a stronger actionable plan. Organizations and people are resistant to change.  Which is why an objective planning process is needed to counter the internal resistance to change against that wildly changing media and competitive environ.

Whether you’re launching a new startup company or looking for new ways to revamp your organization marketing efforts, a strategic actionable planning process can make the difference between treading water and achieving exponential growth.

A successful and effective strategic marketing action plan incorporates several core elements:

  1. Identifies the market and the right targets, including what customers believe, the story they tell themselves, and what they expect
  2. Identifies how to attract new customers by knowing competitors, barriers to entry, costs, outside influences, budgets, knowledge and building off past success
  3. Encouraging cross-team collaboration during the planning process – the best brands understand branding infiltrates all areas of a company
  4. Crafting a large enough approach – a scalable strategic direction that can deliver the vision and long-term company direction, so that the immediate plan is a building block toward a longer-term plan of success
  5. Prioritizes the few key elements needed to create short-term to mid-term success

What should a CEO or business owner do to have a successful action marketing program? It may not be what you read … not digital tricks … over-analyzation … or necessarily increased manpower.

  • Have a vision that plays through the organization (CEO must be involved)
  • Set a real budget (5 – 10% of top line revenue)
  • Get a strategic action marketing plan in place BEFORE you sweat the execution (find the right resource to execute that plan if not in house)
  • Be willing to challenge assumptions and past efforts – focus on the long-term goals
  • Build a long-term plan for bigger results and scale based on today (stop looking at short-term fixes and the hot tip of the week; stop and starts are absolute killer to results)

It can be as simple as Jim Collins wrote: “get the right people on the bus and then figure out where the bus is going.”

Armed with this knowledge, you can develop the necessary marketing strategies that will allow you to attract, obtain, and keep customers.

Is your marketing approach working? Do you have a focused, actionable plan that is understood?  Find out with a complimentary Marketing Assessment from GRM.