To give your business direction and enable it to move forward, you need to have a clear idea of your goals, objectives and strategy . You may have a general idea of where you’d like your business to be in one, two or five years time, but without setting specific targets you may find you lose track of where you’re going and have no way to measure the success of what you are doing.
So, welcome to part 3 of our small business guide to marketing planning. In Part 1, we looked at the importance of marketing planning and how using a framework such as SOSTAC can help you build your small business marketing plan. Part 2 discussed the first step in marketing planning – situational analysis and examined the question ‘Where are you now?’ This post looks at the importance of setting objectives and how to formulate your strategy by thinking about ‘Where do you want to be?’ and ‘How do you want to you get there?’
Where do you want to be?
Having undertaken your situational analysis you should have a pretty solid idea about where your business currently stands. You’ll have a good understanding of your customers, the marketplace and your competitors. You’ll also be aware of your business’ strengths and weaknesses, alongside any opportunities or threats that may be on the horizon. All this analysis will help you mould your goals and objectives. These may include wider, long-term goals such as your business mission and vision as well as more specific short to medium term objectives.
So for example; say your situational analysis has identified that one of your weaknesses is that you have only a small database of prospective clients, one of your goals over the year is likely to be to grow your database. Put into a specific short-term objective that you can focus your strategy and tactics around, your objective could be something along the lines of:
- To increase ‘prospects database’ contacts by 25% by 30th June 2014.
To make you your objectives both useful and relevant, you need to make them SMART. This way it is clear to everybody what the target you are progressing towards is.
- Specific – objectives should be detailed and specific to a particular area – not vague or wishy-washy as that will make them impossible to measure.
- Measurable – the objective should be able to be quantified.
- Achievable – is the objective likely to be achieved or have you overestimated targets?
- Realistic – do you have the resources, time, budget to make the objective happen?
- Timely – you need to have a specific target time frame to work to.
How do you get there?
Now you know ‘where you want to be’ through setting clear goals and objectives, you need to think about how you’re going to get there. Strategy is driven by your situational analysis and is essentially about how you intend to go about meeting the objectives you’ve set. So in our example our objective was to increase the number of contacts on our database. Therefore we are likely to want to drive more traffic to our website, which may well mean improving our search engine visibility and ranking. Our strategy will be thinking about the best ways to do this. This may include looking at:
- Customer segmentation and target marketing strategy. Probably the key element when formulating your strategy is your customers and segmenting them into clearly defined customer groups by identifying the different behaviour and needs of each group. You will have looked at segmenting your customers as part of your situational analysis, so your strategy should then focus on how you intend to target your marketing to each customer segment.
- Your positioning and OVP ( Online Value proposition): Where is your business positioned within the market and what is it that makes your e-commerce offering stand out from your competitors? How can you exploit this to your advantage?
- Content strategy: So if your strategy is to drive traffic to your website, you will want to improve your search engine ranking and therefore you will need to look at SEO (search engine optimisation) . Content is absolutely central to SEO And so you will need to think about ways to improve your online content.
Your strategy is all about what actions are you going to undertake to ensure you achieve you objectives. Your next step will be defining the tactics you are going to use (the tactics element of the SOSTAC framework will be part 4 of our marketing planning guide).
So, how does all this fit into the SOSTAC framework?
Going back to our earlier example objective of growing our prospective database, lets look at it in the context of the SOSTAC framework :
1. Where are you now?
SWOT analysis identified that the current prospects database was poor
2. Where do you want to be?
SMART objective: To increase ‘prospects database’ contacts by 25% by 30th June 2014
3. How do we get there?
Strategy: To drive traffic to our website in order to data capture new names and achieve our objective of growing our prospects database by 25%.
4. How exactly do we get there?
What marketing tactics will we use in order to drive traffic to our website and data capture new names for our database?
5. What is our plan – who is going to do what and when?
Who is taking responsibility for our tactics. What is the schedule and timeframe required in order to meet our objective’s deadline? What is the budget? What resources do we have?
6. How are we going to measure our success?
We need to be able to measure our performance through analysis such as, KPI, web analytics, conversion rates in order to be able clearly measure whether we have met our objectives.
Part 4 of our Small Business Guide to Marketing Planning will be looking at marketing tactics.
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