The chief marketing officer plan is a comprehensive blueprint on how to facilitate growth, boost sales and gain a competitive marketplace advantage. Often, the chief marketing officer (CMO) must shape the company’s internal processes along with the company’s public profile to achieve these goals.
A CMO’s priorities are generally twofold: are the current marketing campaigns fulfilling their objectives, and is the company positioned to adjust to market demands? To achieve both priorities, CMOs rely on a fully fleshed-out marketing plan, or a CMO operations plan.
Crucial Building Blocks of a CMO’s Strategic Business Plan
The creation of an all-inclusive marketing plan is one of the top priorities of a CMO. In marketing, however, you need a few important components before you can draft your plan:
- Marketing research. Information must be gathered and analyzed for relevance: target audience profiles and demographic trends, brand performance, market growth rate, sales data, competitor analyses, marketing mix optimization, etc. Marketing research should cast a wide net and then whittle down the information into useful insights that can be used to develop a marketing strategy.
- Marketing strategy. The marketing strategy should be crafted with long-term marketing goals in mind. Current markets and clients should be taken into account, but the more pressing concern will be the target markets and the as-yet-untapped potential clients.
- Marketing plan. The marketing plan documents both the marketing strategy and the research that gave rise to it. The plan is then used to outline the actions needed to reach the company’s long-term strategic goals. This executive plan will usually consist of smaller, quantifiable goals. It can also include an implementation calendar to provide accountability for specific departments. The marketing plan is typically considered a subsection of the company’s business development plan.
Conducting Marketing Research
Marketing research should entail all possible factors influencing your marketing performance, both internal and external. For a CMO, marketing research should consist of:
- Brand analysis. How is your brand performing in your current marketing space? Is it reaching the right clients and is it conveying the desired message?
- Industry research. What industry factors are impacting your performance? Is your industry regulated by the government? Is a technological advancement set to revolutionize your industry?
- Profile target audience. An ideal client profile answers many questions about what your campaign should focus on and what channels to target.
- Profile competition. Observing the marketing activities of your competition can provide insights into what strategies are succeeding and which ones require modification.
- Analyze channels. Through your target audience profile, you should also be able to identify which channels best suit your ideal clients and provide you with the most reach.
Formulating a Marketing Strategy
Marketing research will inform the decisions that lead to the development of the marketing strategy. For a CMO, marketing strategy is the big picture that provides direction to all marketing activities. A successful marketing strategy requires that you:
- Establish clear, measurable goals. All marketing goals should be simple and be attached to a measurable metric. These metrics will allow for any necessary modifications to the marketing strategy, even after the strategy is in its execution phase.
- Evaluate possible channels and campaigns. Consider the potential of each channel (such as outbound approaches like television ads, print ads, etc., or inbound methods like social media, content marketing and search engine optimization). Campaigns can be employed in many ways, with a single campaign for every channel or one large campaign implemented across multiple channels.
- Set up a means of tracking and testing. A system should be in place to track your marketing activities with a goals-centered focus. In the press of daily tasks, the tracking and testing system should allow for mid-course corrections if campaigns stray from the established marketing processes.
What Belongs in Your Marketing Plan?
For a CMO, planning precise marketing activities for the company can’t begin until the marketing strategy is complete, the company objectives are clear, and a tracking method for long-term goals is in place. With all that taken care of, it’s time to transition the marketing strategy into a series of actions and a timetable. A company’s marketing plan will normally be comprised of several parts:
- An executive summary. This is the first section, but it should be written last. It presents a top-level overview of what the marketing plan contains, including the research that informed strategic marketing decisions, a summary of the marketing strategy, and an overview of the marketing plan.
- A target audience profile. This provides all the pertinent information gleaned from the marketing research.
- A situational analysis. The analysis paints a picture of where the company stands at present.
- Your unique selling proposition. This is an explanation of your products and services and what their strongest appeal is to potential clients.
- Pricing and positioning strategy. A breakdown of pricing decisions and how pricing may position in the company in the overall marketing landscape.
- Distribution plan. This explains how clients will gain access to the company’s products and services: e.g., via sales people, the website, etc.
- Marketing strategy and materials. This is where the marketing strategy is set down in detail. Any pertinent marketing materials should also be enclosed, such as brochures, ads and marketing-centered website features and design.
- Client retention and referral strategy. Plans should be in place to encourage clients to continue making purchases from your company, as well as encouraging them to refer close associates or business partners to use your services.
- Long-term and short-term financial projections. A marketing plan should include the marketing budget, along with a breakdown of financial projections.
Questions to ask of Your Marketing Plan
Once the marketing plan is drafted, it still must be ratified by top executives. Before bringing the marketing plan up for final approval, the chief marketing executive should review the plan once more and ask:
- Does it reflect the way your target audience interacts with media? For example, if your ideal clients begin their buyer’s journey by consulting Internet sources, does your strategy concentrate on digital channels?
- Have you done all your homework in crafting your strategy? A client’s journey from prospect to lead to buyer has become extremely complicated in recent years. Have you investigated all possible factors that could influence them along the way, or industry dynamics that should be considered as you make marketing decisions?
- Is there a content plan in place? Potential clients tend to avoid traditional ads and seek out content that educates them about services and products. Are you providing the kind of content that will be useful to them? Content that will build trust in your brand and leave your clients wanting more?
- Is there a plan to measure results? Tracking results and measuring performance enable marketing plans to evolve as new challenges arise. How are you gathering performance data, and how do you intend to analyze that data so that it yields actionable insights?
- What process is in place to adapt campaigns based on results? Once you’ve discovered that your plan needs to adapt to changing circumstances, what process is in place to execute the needed changes?
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