Marketing Research – Strategies for a Winning Marketing Plan

It's time for a new marketing plan and some of us would rather have our fingernails pulled out than sit down and work out a new strategy. So we put it off or wait for the new year to start this project, because the new year is a time to start over, to put the past year behind us and to make resolutions for the coming year. But, there is nothing that says we can only make resolutions at the beginning of the year.

One definition for resolution is, "A course of action determined or decided on." A marketing plan could have considered a course of action determined or determined on the operation of a business. A marketing plan encompasses every aspect of a business. It is more than selling, more than advertising and, it can be done any time of the year. Furthermore, it can and should be reviewed several times a year.

Often, we start a new marketing plan by taking up where the old plan left off. We review that plan, maybe update a few items. We start out by asking "What went wrong? What went right?" This approach asserts all the data is in and all that is needed is to eliminate the things that did not work out and beef up the things that did work.

While that is a legitimate and very workable way to approach building marketing strategies, the focus is a bit narrow. It does not help shine a light on new opportunities, changes in the marketplace or industry, or new methodologies that might improve efficiency. Furthermore, the best marketing results come from tightly focused marketing that clearly communicates to a targeted audience.

In a workaday world that gives us little time for reflective consideration, we often tend to rush this process and assume that the company is doing what it should be doing, selling what it should be selling, marketing to the right audience, and is organized and staffed the way it should be. This year, let's take a moment and ask ourselves more questions about the market, our audience, our resources and our competition. Your marketing plan can take a whole new direction when you get the answers to questions such as: "Is this still the right thing to sell? Is this still viable? Is this what people want? Does it still fit with our corporate identity and mission? ? Who wants this product or service, and what are the benefits that they believe are get ? How do our company, our products and our services compare to similar companies, products and services in the marketplace today? Has our competed their product or business model ? "

Once you get a good feel for the marketplace and any new opportunities or challenges coming from outside the business, it's time to take a look inside with questions like: "Have we added capabilities, skills or knowledge that suggest we do new markets? Are there abilities, skills, knowledge or equipment that we need to develop or acquire? Should we be narrowing our focus to take advantage of specialized skills and services? "

If you honestly evaluate both the external and internal effects on your business or product, it becomes easy to develop a marketing mix for success. You will learn what you need to be telling clients and prospects and you will know who that target audience is. You will likely get information that indicates where your marketing and advertising budget should be allocated.

Whatever questions you ask, just be sure to ask them. One tip: If, like most of us, you do not have time for a long client and prospect survey, study what your competition is doing and evaluate what they do that is really successful (not just everything they do), and look through your own customer records for trends, problems and successes.