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When you study for the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) Diploma (which I have), they teach you how to write a marketing plan.

I have to be honest. It’s SERIOUSLY dull.

Trudging through a CIM approved-type marketing plan process is hard work.

Reading one is even worse!

Inside one of those plans, it’s true, you get all the vital things you need to roll out a successful marketing strategy, such as ‘Product Audit’, ‘SWOT Analysis’ and the like. But, the acronyms and the dry content that you’re taught to create as part of this voluminous document make it unreadable for anyone apart from those using it as a case study to prepare for next year’s exam.

In my early career I heavily relied on the theory that I learned on the CIM Diploma to create marketing plans for each of my employers. My colleagues were wildly impressed. I felt good and ‘proper’. Those huge tomes were widely admired (mainly for their thoroughness), before being saved in a little used corner of the corporate network, never to be seen again. Yes reader, they were largely ignored.

I learned from this.

Nowadays, when I create a marketing plan for a client, I don’t use that hard-to-manage, never-to-be-read, overwhelming format.

These days, a marketing plan from The Marketing Architect is a highly-practical, and most importantly, SHORT document. Of course, we still carry out all the important competitor analysis, market research – we need this in order to make our recommendations. But, this lengthy information is positioned firmly in the accompanying appendices to the main event.

Our dream is to liberate marketing plans from the filing cabinet. To turn them into living, breathing documents, that get updated annually and are frequently referred to. So this is what we’re doing for our clients. Our marketing plans rely on graphics, they’re simple and brief. And, hopefully, they’re never consigned to the digital equivalent of Room 101.

If you’re interested in the skeleton structure of a CIM approved marketing plan, you can find its website here. You’ll easily find the laundry list of steps you need to take in order to create your own marketing plan. No doubt you’ll feel as overwhelmed as I did!

To make things a bit simpler. Here are the three things, above all others, to focus on for a functioning marketing strategy.

1. Exactly who your dream client is. Not just ‘female business owners’, let’s go a bit deeper into their behaviours, lifestyle and habits. Is your dream client the owner of a start-up or an established business? Do they have a team? Do they work all hours, or strictly 9-5? Do they run a modern or traditional business? Do they network? If so, where? You’ll find lots more advice on creating this section of your plan here.

2. Your company’s position in the market place. We all have competitors, and that’s fine. But how are you positioned in comparison with them? Choose the criteria on which you prefer to be compared. What is it about your business that makes it special? Is your service better value? Is it more thorough? Are you more experienced than your competitors? Now, analyse your competitors and compare them to yourself. If you and all of your competitors are trying to sell based on the same strengths and values, you’ll all seem the same to potential clients. That makes it hard for them to choose between you. Taking the largest market share will be a challenge. Maybe it’s time to adapt your position and promote yourself differently from your competitors, so that you start to stand out from the crowd?

3. The customer journey. This is the key to your marketing strategy. And, it’s how you plan the best marketing activities for your business. How do individuals go from being a total stranger to becoming a raving fan who glowingly recommends you to their friends? In every business, its customers need to move through 6 stages of understanding about that business before they can buy something, and become a loyal ‘recommender’. These stages are: Awareness, Interest, Evaluation, Trial, Adoption and Loyalty. Your marketing plan needs to include activities at each stage that help customers move from one to the next, until they’re ready to buy.

If this still seems like an overwhelming task, get in touch.

I’d LOVE to help you design a marketing plan for your business.

We can either do this work together in a VIP day (Marketing Audit & Action Plan), or I can do it for you as part of our Freelance Marketing Manager service.

Why not book a chat with me now to find out more about how we can help.

Let’s put a living, breathing marketing strategy into the heart of your business, and get marketing doing it’s job ASAP!

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