A marketing strategy without a plan won’t get you far.

Do you want more customers, more revenue, and more growth? Of course you do, we all do. Then you’ll probably need an excellent marketing strategy. But a strategy without a plan won’t get you far.

One of the most important aspects to growing your business is your marketing strategy. But first, you need an effective marketing plan in place. Having a plan means understanding opportunities for new growth, who your actual customers are versus what you thought, and how to attract and gain new customers. Not to mention, where to best spend future marketing dollars.

The challenge that most companies face is that they fail to create a marketing strategy. No strategy means a future destined for struggle (and maybe failure). Think of it like turning on your GPS without plugging in a final destination. You’re going do a lot of driving but won’t get anywhere.

One could argue (and I may be biased here), that marketing is one of the most important functions of your company and a vital part of your entrepreneurial success. Without marketing your business you can’t attract the right customers. Without attracting the right customers means not generating sales. And no sales means no revenue or profits.

Do you see a pattern here?

Marketing presents a continuous process that every business needs to perform BUT you need a roadmap to get there. That is where a marketing plan comes in.

A marketing plan is a blueprint or roadmap for your organization. It’s short-term in nature, specific in scope, and combines strategies and tactics to get your desired results. Writing a marketing plan is not a simple task. But, once you have one, it will help you and your business with the action steps you need to take in order to attract the right customers.

Here are three key factors that must be in your next marketing plan:

1. Customer are the heart of your plan.

The marketing plan revolves around your customers. Think of the customer as the sun. Your business and the tactics you execute need to be focused around your customer, not your boss or the competition. This is an essential ingredient to your plan. You want to figure out key information about your customer – demographic, geographic, and psychographic characteristics – to begin with. Once you have that outline in place, you can create a buyer’s persona.

The buyer’s persona is a secret weapon used by many successful companies. The buyer’s persona paints a picture about who you’re targeting as it relates to your product and service. The information you gather can make it easier for you to target your marketing and communication efforts, and create loyal customers. It’s often said, “knowledge is power.”

2. Communicate your value.

Yes, communicate your value. But that does not mean communicate your product features or list all your fancy features. You must communicate with your customer or potential customers where they are at and what they want to know. So, ask yourself the following questions: What matters the most to them? How is your product or service going to make their life easier?

It’s so easy to jump into the ‘what’ of your product and much harder to capture the “why” (as said by the very brilliant Simon Sinek).

When you’re positioning your product or service, your selling a concept that motivates a purchase. The position statement needs to clearly articulate your value and identify how you want your company or product to be portrayed in the buyer’s mind. Not to mention, it also helps guide your entire marketing plan. Without it, your marketing strategies and tactics fall flat.

3. Set really, really clear objectives.

Objectives help you stay focused. Really focused.

Objectives help you identify what you’re going to accomplish in a one-year period. If you stay focused, and ensure your objectives are about your customers, you’ll be setting yourself up for success.

“Help your customers and you help your business.” ~ Leo Burnett

The practice of creating objectives is important. You want to set objectives that are qualitative in nature. Remember the SMART principle? Make sure your objectives are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. This will ensure your entire team knows where you’re going and how you’re getting there. Not to mention, it will keep you accountable to reaching those objectives as you execute your marketing plan.

To achieve this kind of focus, be sure to include your entire team and find other ways that you can create objectives that add value to your customers’ lives. This will also keep your marketing team focused on the real mission of your business.

Get started. Now.

Of course, the first step in ensuring the success of any marketing plan is to get all those ideas down on paper. Bring your team together, facilitate a brainstorm session, do your research, and start with these three simple steps. The rest of the plan will start to fall into place.