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Executing your strategic plan: Four tools you must use

Having a great marketing plan is your north star for a successful strategic plan execution.

If you’ve evaluated and made sense of your data and your stakeholders and team are behind you, you’re ready for the last step: Execution of your strategic plan. 

If you want to know more about how to accomplish either of these objectives, we offered advice about evaluating your marketing and engaging your stakeholders and your team in two previous blogs.

Now it’s time to put those great ideas into action. However, having the greatest strategic plan in the world won’t get you to where you need to go if you don’t have the right tools.

As in any solid structure, there are four corners to your marketing foundation. So, when you are ready to put your marketing roadmap into action, here are the four we recommend you start with:

  1. Branding/Identity
  2. CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
  3. Online Presence
  4. Email marketing

The good news is that you don’t have to do all of these at once.  Chunk your plan down into some easily attainable goals. You could break your marketing plan down to one or two goals per quarter and know that you can get them done and done well. 

Working slowly but surely, you’ll be upping your marketing game before you know it.

Branding/Identity: It’s how people see you when you aren’t there

Your brand identity affects your customers’ entire experience with your company and will influence how your audience engages with you. It is the voice of your company when you can’t physically be there. Branding and the way you make your audience feel, will be the thing that helps you outsell your competition.. 

When we see a swoosh, we think Nike ⸺ Just Do It! When we see an apple, we think computer, innovation, and most likely “expensive”. When you need a tissue, do you ask for a “tissue” or a “Kleenex”? These brands realized long ago the importance of focusing on branding!

Don’t let yourself be swayed any differently: branding is just as important for small to midsize businesses (SMBs) as it is for large businesses. Brand is the most valuable asset you have as a business. And a great brand helps you differentiate yourself from your competitors!

According to an article from Forbes last year, SMBs tend to rely too heavily on referrals and direct-response marketing tactics to drive leads. Sure, direct marketing has its place and can be very helpful in terms of marketing ROI, but developing your brand’s personality can’t be measured in those terms ⸺ it’s about feelings and emotion. 

So, what does brand really mean?  Well, there are two kinds of brand to look at, internal and external.

Your mission, vision, purpose and core culture…that’s your internal brand.  The Harvard Business Review finds that selling your brand on the inside is equally as important as the elements of brand used for your external image,

Why? HBR thinks that if “…your company culture is aligned and integrated with that identity, your employees are more likely to make decisions and take actions that deliver on your brand promise”. Without that crucial connection, your team may not live up to the expectations of your marketing strategic plan.

In short, you need to create an internal brand that resonates with your staff…and doesn’t cause resentment because they have not bought into it. Your brand identity ends up being the personality of your business and your promise to the customers.

Your logo, the colors and fonts of your marketing material… that’s the stuff of external branding. And it’s what people usually think of when they think” brand.”  But external brand really is much more than colors and fonts.  External brand is also the way you communicate to your customers with your slogan, your marketing materials, your online and social media presence. It’s the consistent message through all channels that you want to get out about your product or service.

Remember to think about how your external branding lines up with your internal brand.  Keeping the two consistent adds power to your message–whether it’s an employee or a potential customer. 

CRM: Knowing your customers improves the bottom line

The purpose of having a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool or database is simple:  It lets you keep all the information about your customers and potential customers in one place.  And with that information, you can make decisions about how to better serve your customers while improving your sales and marketing enablement.

In the past, CRMs were used mostly by large businesses and were super expensive. Today, there are multiple cloud-based CRM options that are not only affordable but offer access from anywhere and on most devices.

To really bring some insight into your customers, you can connect your CRM to your email marketing program, as well as other inbound and outbound marketing efforts.  You’ll also want to use the CRM as a sales tracking tool for lead generation when you are executing your strategic plan.

Look for a CRM tool that allows you to:

  1. Increase efficiency and lead generation while also providing simple, understandable metrics.
  2. Increase customer retention through consistent communication.
  3. Increase company profits by creating new leads (lead generation through inbound marketing) and managing them through the sales pipeline
  4. Identify and sell to the low hanging fruit (i.e. current customers that can benefit from other services or products).

Online Presence: Sending it all back home base

An online presence means exactly what you might expect — a website.

A website is the hub of all sales and marketing activity.  It’s the place your customers will come to find out more about you from anywhere in the world. And, it should be where they come to download a white paper, ask for more information, or make a purchase from you.

Every type of outreach that you do—from email to social media to your CRM—should be directed back to your website as the main source of information and interaction. Think of it as a hub-and-spoke model, where all routes lead to the hub — your website.

Websites are also wonderful for gleaning analytics to find out more about the habits of your customers and potential customers. You can create individualized experiences based on that information that will delight the users with your insight and create brand trust

But all websites are not created equal! Successful websites have a few common characteristics, such as:

  • a clean navigation that lets users find everything in three clicks or less,
  • a solutions-focused homepage that immediately lets the user know what you do,
  • an opt-in form that lets users sign up to receive more information about your company through email, and
  • a site analytics tool (think Google Analytics) that lets you run reports to see important trends on your website.

When you understand your users’ needs and motivations, you’ll be able to improve your conversion rates that will, in turn, increase your revenue.

Email marketing: When subscribers raise their hand

Email marketing, especially from a list of people who have signed up to be your subscribers, is a great way of getting information to people who have actually asked for it. Subscribers have raised their hand and said, “Yes, I want to know more.” As an SMB, it makes sense to honor that request.

Marketing influencer Neil Patel says email is possibly one of the best marketing strategies you can use in your business. The information that you can get from a well-done email campaign can help you formulate your future strategies and help you avoid costly mistakes.

But, before you embark on an email marketing effort, make sure that you have the time and the energy to be consistent in your communication. Whether you do it in-house or hire someone from the outside, you’ve got to have the resources to do it well.

Want to know more?

We get it: too often, small-business owners feel overwhelmed in their sales and marketing efforts. The solution is to find a process that takes you through a thorough assessment to find out where your marketing gaps are.

Tomato Fish solidly believes in a marketing strategic plan (roadmap) that uses these four platforms to create your marketing and sales foundation. In fact, if you are ready to find out more,  take our free assessment and see where you are at in your marketing journey. 

And if you are ready to discuss your situation and how you can take your marketing process to the next level, contact us to set up a time to talk.