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Before You Put Pen to Paper on Your Marketing Plan, Set Strategic Goals As you determine how you will accomplish your goals, given the conclusions you have drawn, this is when the plan kicks into gear.

By Jim Joseph

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As you've been (hopefully) reading this series week after week, you've probably been wondering when we will actually start writing our annual marketing plan. You're probably exhausted from all the pre-work we've been uncovering in each installment.

Well you've just learned a fundamental lesson when it comes to writing your marketing plan: you have to do a lot of homework before you can start writing. There is a ton of data and analysis required before you can even begin to put pen to paper.

Related: Update Your Business Plan to Renew Your Drive and Focus

But now we can finally start.

We've already set our objectives for the year -- if you remember, that was the first thing we did. We've crunched through our lessons learned, took a look at our competition and did a two-dimensional SWOT analysis.

We know enough now to set our strategies for the year. This is when the plan kicks into gear.

The next step is to determine how we will accomplish our goals, given the conclusions we have drawn. Strategies are not the details of what we will do -- that will come next when we outline the tactics.

For most plans, you should not have a whole lot of strategies. I would recommend that you only outline three or four strategic pillars that will drive the thinking behind your plan. All of your tactics will then flow from one of these pillars.

Perhaps an example will help.

Let's imagine that we have a small retail business that has reached its peak potential with the plan you've been operating against for the past three years. In your analysis, you identify the risk associated with not expanding and you identify opportunity areas for growth. These become the basis for your strategic pillars.

Related: Startup Business Forecasts Are Not Black Magic, Just Smart Business

As you write out your plan, you strategically decide to:

  • Expand your presence into three more markets of similar makeup to your current location
  • Establish an ecommerce site to reach and attract those who wouldn't come to your brick-and-mortar location
  • Create a social presence that will help your current customers become more engaged in your business and motivate them to share their experiences with their networks
  • Develop a content marketing strategy to add more value to your customers' lives beyond the products that they buy from you

We've just outlined four strategic directions that this small-business owner could take to expand the business this year. These are four strategies for growth, fulfilling on the objective that was set at the beginning of the year, using the lessons learned and SWOT analysis to flesh them out.

Next would come the tactics to identify what needs to be done to fulfill on:

  • Expanding a retail presence into other markets
  • Establishing ecommerce
  • Giving the business a social voice
  • Building a content marketing machine

We'll get to that next week!

Related: 4 Goals Every Small-Business Owner Should Set in 2015

Jim Joseph

Marketing Master - Author - Blogger - Dad

Jim Joseph is a commentator on the marketing industry. He is Global President of the marketing communications agency BCW, author of The Experience Effect series and an adjunct instructor at New York University.

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