Marketing has one job – to generate value through generating qualified leads that sales can convert into customers. There are about a million different things surrounding that one goal – but at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.

Too often we get bogged down in the tactics that we forget to create a framework to allow for smart decision-making and swift implementation once the strategy is defined. So how does a marketing professional or business owner go about putting together a marketing strategy? Consider beginning by answering these five questions.

1) What business objectives does the marketing strategy need to support?

It seems simple enough, but it’s overlooked nearly every time. Define the end game. Marketing moves businesses towards a different place than it sits today. To a larger market, to serve more customers, selling more products, delivering additional services. If the business has not defined what they’re trying to sell to whom – the marketing strategy has no chance of being successful.

Begin by clearly defining your business objectives in a quantifiable manner.

Here are some examples:

  • Increase revenue from $100MM to $150MM
  • Maintain profit margin of 12%
  • Complete 200 new installations of our software

2) What metrics determine success/ failure?

Before you begin, ask yourself (or your department) – how are we going to determine if what we’ve done (or will be doing) has been successful. And then make sure you have the tools in place to actually report on that information.

For example. If success is defined as the number of new customer generated from our email marketing program – and yet there is no CRM, no process for documenting the origin of a lead and no appetite for segmenting lists and creating content… then you are never going to be able to answer this question.

Before executing, determine the scorecard. It’s very difficult to measure progress if you haven’t set up the system ahead of time to include measurement.There are soooo many tools available to marketers today where measurement is possible at nearly every turn. The old adage of “50% of my marketing works, and 50% doesn’t – I just can’t tell one from the other” doesn’t apply anymore.

Invest in your measurement tools so you can be smart about your marketing strategy as you begin to implement.

3) How much should I spend?

We get this question a million times. Business owners and marketers alike get too paralyzed about finding the perfect number – and end up spending nothing at all. Or, worse yet, spend randomly and nothing is integrated enough to have any real impact.

The short answer is – spend what makes sense for your business. How do you figure that out?

  • 10-15% of your overall budget should be spent on planning and measurement tools
  • Include the cost of utilizing internal resources for things like content creation, list segmentation, customer feedback – and budget for it accordingly.
  • Figure out how much of your company’s current profits you can comfortably invest back in the business to support future growth. It makes no sense to go out of business trying to fund your marketing effort.

4) What resources (people) are available to assist in implementing?

Take an inventory of people inside and outside your organization that can assist with implementing your plan. Allow your resource availability to guide your strategic marketing plan. There is no sense in creating a strategy you don’t have the financial or human capital to execute on.

Get creative. Outside of company staff – think about brining in the expertise of industry thought leaders, key partners, vendors, clients and interns. How can you leverage all of these individual contributions to support mutual goals?

The primary reason great ideas and strategic plans go unexecuted is because no one thought through who was going to do the work. Seems simple enough, right?

5) Who is going to make the decisions once we begin implementation?

Marketing is as much about momentum as it is about consistent execution. If there is not a clear decision-making process set up in advance of the ‘creating stuff’ part of marketing – your best work and greatest ideas will get caught up in an internal mess of non-responsiveness and/or “I have an idea/ opinion.” Have one person who is trusted be centrally responsible for approving all creating and content. The more complex this process is – the smaller the chances are that you will have a successful strategic marketing effort.

Happy planning.

Marketing Toolkit CTA


Tiffany Sauder

Coming from a family whose father never worked for another person his whole life, entrepreneurship ran high in Tiffany Sauder’s household. When the opportunity to take over a small Indianapolis marketing firm was presented to her, she leaped at the chance and has been expanding it ever since. For Tiffany, business is built to grow people – not the other way around – and Element Three exists to fulfill that vision. And as clients and employees grow, so does Element Three itself.