The importance of a well-thought out professional services marketing plan
As a marketing function, having direction, buy in from senior stakeholders and clear objectives is crucial. A key component of this is your marketing plan – setting out not only your goals but the activities that will achieve them. As we close out 2018, we’ve highlighted below some of the key things to remember when creating your 2019 plan and how you can use it to drive real business value.
It’s hard to get to where you want to be without knowing where you are starting from, and a situation analysis is the bedrock of your marketing plan. This involves defining your company (we love carrying out SWOT analyses!), the business objectives for 2019, the external market, your offering and your goals as a marketing function, as well as identifying what your current marketing strategy is and what has worked well and less well in 2018. Honesty is so important in this stage. Use your situational analysis to also look to the future – are there any opportunities approaching that you should be looking to maximise?
A competitor analysis is crucial. It’s rare that an established marketing function won’t understand their competitors – but has it been revisited? Have new competitors entered your space since your last marketing strategy was developed? Has a certain competitor been a lot more aggressive in the last 12 months? What marketing strategies are they using and how effective are they? Don’t rely on ‘assumed’ knowledge from the past.
Your marketing plan must include the activities that are going to deliver your goals. Consider carefully what the best approach to reach your target audience might be. We always encourage clients to undertake a fresh persona exercise every year and tailor your marketing strategies to suit them. It’s important to remember that you will need a mix of digital and offline marketing activities that support each other in a cohesive strategy – while keeping content at the heart of the plan.
Alignment to Sales and Metrics
Alignment with the rest of the firm is crucial to your success. When it comes to your sales or client-facing team(s), remember that your activities must support their go-to-market strategies and ultimately the creation of leads for their pipelines. The best way to achieve buy-in of other stakeholders is to involve them in your planning and talk ‘relevant’ metrics. The metrics you use to measure the success of your marketing plan need to be relevant to the firm’s objectives and goals to ensure alignment across the organisation.
A new marketing plan is great, but it can fall short of the mark without a key implementation strategy. Identify when deliverables should be taking place, and crucially, who should be doing them. Build a calendar of activities that functions across the business have access to. Not only does this add accountability to the plan, but it also ensures that everything can be monitored by various team members.
Creating an evaluation process should be the final part of your marketing plan. Make sure you measure the effectiveness of the plan by comparing the results to the goals that you set out to achieve. If you find that you’re in a situation where your plan isn’t meeting the goals you set, then the plan will need to be reviewed and the honest reasons for this determined.
Although planning is vital, flexibility is also key. Sticking rigidly to a marketing plan that isn’t delivering won’t work, so there needs to be agility within the marketing plan to respond to the inevitable changes that occur across a financial year.
Hopefully these key components of a marketing plan will be helpful as you finalise your planning for 2019. A well thought through marketing plan will go a long way towards aligning stakeholders and creating a shared go-to-market strategy. If you’d like any support with your 2019 planning, contact us here.