Marketing planning is similar to developing a general business plan. It is normally enough to have an annual marketing plan. Three-year rolling plans aren't necessary, as most considerations are strategic, and already covered in the business plan. Focus on short-term tactics.

Your marketing plan should detail the product developments, promotions and communication campaigns required to achieve the targets in your business plan.

To increase the chance of establishing a healthy 'funnel', a balanced and integrated marketing programme is essential. It should be consistent with the size of your business, budget and staff, and with the results you wish to achieve.

A balanced marketing programme would include initiatives across three different but related areas:

1. Image and awareness development
This includes research, advertising, communications, media and industry relations, and events and other activities that strengthen your position and local brand.

2. Market development
This includes database marketing, market research and any other activity that will provide you with industry market focus, define prospects and articulate what you can offer your clients.

3. Business development
This includes market and client management, relationship selling and opportunity management.

Don't be tempted to put all your eggs in one basket. Start with a number of different but integrated initiatives. This will give you the chance to focus and fine tune the combination that works best for you.

The objectives and targets of each initiative should be clearly defined. Work out exactly how you're going to implement each step, and assign your resources and budget accordingly. Each initiative should be the responsibility of a dedicated team, and the whole programme achievable with the available financial and non-financial resources.

Track the Key Performance Indicators, and share these with your staff. This will motivate them and help determine which approaches suit your business and deliver the best results.
This article was taken from the The Cutting Edge - Part 3. Copies are available from your CGU branch.