You want to develop a marketing plan, now what?

By Erin Crowley on May 28th, 2015

Your organization has decided it wants (or more likely needs) a marketing strategy that will help define your organization, reach your target audience and set you apart from you competitors, but now what do you do?

Whether you are an organization that has been in the business for decades or a startup new to the industry, it is critical to begin your marketing strategy with a solid foundation. This foundation should be built on clear, concise company messages that can be used for all communications efforts. Before developing these key messages however, you must first evaluate your current brand perception and determine how to achieve your preferred brand image.

While the concept seems simple, there are several critical stages of corporate message development that you should consider when building your messaging foundation:

Are you introducing a new product or repositioning an older one? When an organization is introducing a new product, whether it is similar to an existing product or not, it is important to make sure your market understands what this product is and why it benefits them. By developing messages that focus on educating your target market(s), you can be sure the right people are getting the right information at the right time – a critical component to launch success.

Is your product one in a million or one of the millions? Let’s face it, it’s likely that in your industry there are several competitors that offer similar products or services. While you know what really sets your organization apart from the others, your target markets may not. It is important to establish a thought leadership program that defines your company, outlines your differences and most importantly highlights the benefits your product offers. Messages developed with this in mind can ensure your business stands out from the crowd.

Is your goal to change the market’s perception of your organization? More often than not, people will create their own opinion about you and your business before they meet you or hear your sales pitch. If you are working to redefine your organization’s perception, you have to first understand what the true current perception is. Industry research provides a unique opportunity for your organization to get the answers it needs straight from the people you care to influence. Once you have that insight, you can create messages that directly address their misconceptions. With clear messaging, you can increase market exposure and highlight benefits in a way that will most resonate with your key audiences.

Are you competing with a larger, more recognized brand? Do you ever feel like you are the little fish in the sea? If you feel that way, it is likely that your audience may as well. So what do you do to change that? Creating messages that are focused on growth, success and brand awareness, and leveraging tactics that support those messages will be key. Today’s businesses have access to so many resources that have viral capabilities including social media, video, blogs, national media and more. Use these tactics, leverage your customer stories, and create messages that make these tactics successful.

Are you redefining your brand? If you have an established brand, but are looking to redefine it, it is important to not completely abandon the messages that your audience is accustomed to. Instead, leverage your existing brand equity to introduce the new or updated offering your company provides. This will not only allow your existing customer base to have confidence in your new product/service, but it will also help drive awareness and recognition amongst your prospects or other influencers.

Have you recently completed an acquisition? Especially in healthcare, acquisitions are frequently making headlines and sometimes they aren’t receiving the best feedback from clients, prospects, media and more. To ensure a successful and seamless merging of brands, it is important to develop messages that educate the market, engage existing customers and prospects, address concerns of internal resources and correct any misconceptions that have arisen or may arise in the future.

Once your organization has identified where it fits in the market and what it is hoping to achieve, your marketing plan and corresponding messages will not be far behind.

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