Sometimes the biggest challenge is to know where to start. Whether that’s with writing a blog (ahem), or strategizing how best to spend your DMO’s annual budget; the blank page can be your worst enemy. Listen, we’ve been there. The good news is we have spent years refining a successful process that helps our clients solve this exact problem. So bypass all of the initial awkwardness and confidently dive into creating a strategic marketing plan with these 7 strategies that will help you facilitate your planning process.
- A comprehensive strategic marketing plan will often first list the target groups that you will need to influence in order to succeed (more on defining success here). Remember to think about typical target groups (prospective visitors, meeting planners, meeting attendees, etc.) AS WELL AS including target groups you might not think of offhand but who can have a big impact on your success (CVB staff, CVB board of directors, lodging providers, local residents, media, etc.).
- Another key component of developing a strategic marketing plan is to define what roles each target group will play in your success. Since the majority of DMOs are not in control of their “inventory” (think lodging, meeting venues, attractions, etc.), success can often be tricky to define and a challenge to measure. We often pause at this point in plan development and look at DMO mission statements for clues as to how to define and possibly measure success.
- As we develop strategic marketing plans for DMO clients (our process results in what we call a Marketing Action Plan or MAP), formulating what each target group must believe about you in order for you to succeed with them should be both realistic AND aspirational. Beliefs are typically a combination of what each target group already believes and (as it relates more directly to marketing) what you want or need them to believe in order to be successful with them. Desired beliefs are usually aspirational BUT must also be realistic (or more plainly, possible to attain).
- Primary research can be extremely valuable when formulating each target group’s required belief.
- Developing the marketing plan (in MAP development, we call these Processes) should be one of the last steps you undertake as you complete your overall strategic marketing plan. This area will outline tactics to influence the required beliefs in order to accomplish the defined roles of each of your identified target groups.
- Often tactics will influence multiple target groups and, when they do, you should usually put them as one of the first items in the process to tackle them first.
- Priority ordering is typically the last effort undertaken when we develop a Marketing Action Plan, but be sure not to skip this step. Listing target groups in priority order, from the group that you think will play the most important role in your organization’s success, to the one who has the least amount of potential. Once these overall target groups have been listed in order of importance, prioritizing their corresponding roles, required beliefs and the tactics that will be undertaken to achieve success with each of these target groups is extremely important. Priority order will allow you to develop the most effective and often the most efficient delivery plan for your marketing efforts.
Now gather your team and your Marketing Action Plan cheat sheet and just start. It doesn’t matter if you do this on paper, in excel, google docs, or use this strategic plan template that we use as our cheat sheet, we know you can do it. And if you need a pep talk or advice, Susan is just a phone call away at 334-244-9933 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.