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A Glimpse Behind the Cogs of a Strategic Marketing Plan

No marketer worth their salt enters a new year, a new product launch, or a new market expansion without a plan in place. Marketing careers are built on carefully mapped out messaging and calculated campaigns. When you live and breathe your brand and the strategy behind building it, it can be difficult to entrust that brand to an outside entity. But sometimes it’s necessary.

Between inbound marketing, digital, web, SEM, trade shows, native advertising, mobile apps, and a thousand other marketing executions, it’s a challenge to determine which methods will best support your brand goals. Sometimes, a partner who understands these tactics inside and out is exactly what you need to develop the best possible strategy for your brand.

It’s not unusual for concerns and uncertainties to arise when working with a third party to execute a project that is so crucial to your success. We’ve found the best way to put our clients at ease is to give them a glimpse at the strategy behind the strategy.


Our process is divided into four phases, each building on the phase before it. These phases represent an all-inclusive planning process that we can pare down or adapt to fit an individual client’s needs, budget, and timeline. The end result is a comprehensive marketing plan that takes into consideration every aspect of your brand, your audience, and your goals.

Phase I: Discovery

A solid marketing foundation begins with a strategic planning process. One that keeps your brand and business goals in mind from the very beginning. We kick off the planning process with a series of questionnaires, meetings, research, and analysis. It’s the most intensive phase of the journey. The end game is to understand as much as possible about your brand and business. The more we know, the more strategic we can be in developing your marketing plan.

There are three parts to the discovery phase, all designed to help us gain insight into what makes you tick and what makes your customers tock.

Business and Marketing Overview

At this point in the game we have a general sense of what you do. Now, we want to know how you do it and why you do it better as well as where your brand is, where you want to be, and what’s getting in your way.

We start to uncover these answers with a marketing questionnaire. The questionnaire serves as a guide for a three- to four-hour discussion where you can share any information that will drive your marketing plan. We’ll come out of the meeting with an overview of your:

  • Company
  • Category
  • Business goals and marketing objectives
  • Sales forecasts versus actual revenue
  • Products/services performance and future initiatives
  • Audiences—demographics, buying decisions, target markets, customer personas
  • Brand positioning and key messages
  • Current communication samples both on and offline
  • Channel usage
  • Competitive landscape

SWOT Analysis and/or Key Findings Report

Everything we learned as part of the business and marketing overview will inform our process as we outline your current position in the marketplace in a SWOT analysis or key findings report. These pieces will help determine if additional research is necessary or if we’re ready to move on to the second phase of the process.

Research and Audits

If we recommend proceeding to the land of research and audits, it’s because your brand could benefit from an even deeper understanding of your audience, your competition, and where you fit among them. Depending on your goals and current state of marketing, we may decide to move forward with anywhere from one of to all of these components:

  • Customer/Stakeholder Interviews Interviews with current or potential customers help us understand what they look for when purchasing a product like yours. We get a glimpse at their buyer journey, how they get product information, and what messaging resonates with them.
    Stakeholders within your organization can also provide a wealth of information. Your executive team, sales force, product and marketing managers, and customer service representatives, all bring different perspectives that will inform your plan.
  • Customer Personas Personas put a face and a name to your customer. We use the information we’ve gleaned from interviews and our meetings with your team to package demographics, goals, challenges, habits, interests, etc., into targeted buckets that will help us define marketing tactics and channels as we continue on this planning odyssey together.
  • Competitive Digital Marketing Audit The best way to determine what sets you apart from the competition is to take a long, hard look at that competition. If you are currently unaware of their digital marketing activities, we’ll examine your top competitors’ digital marketing channels. We’ll poke around their websites, consume their content, peruse their social channels, analyze their emails, and evaluate their search results to identify gaps and opportunities for your brand.
  • Brand Experience Audit If we don’t already know where your current brand touch points stand, now is the time to assess them. We’ll take a look at your collateral, logo, brand elements, messaging, website, advertising, environmental graphics, and anything else that may be making an impression on your customers (favorable or otherwise). We’ll compare them against your competition, assess how they may resonate with your personas, and plot where they fit in along the customer journey.
  • Content Audit It’s at this point that we’ll comb through your current materials with the express purpose of identifying content that should be kept, resurfaced, updated, replaced, or added to your marketing arsenal. These recommendations will be made based on what we’ve learned throughout the course of the research and audit leg of this adventure. Depending on your current collateral and brand goals, the content audit may include sample web pages, blog posts, entire websites, brochures, direct mail, etc.

Phase 2: Definition

Brand Positioning

The audience, brand, and content insights we gathered throughout the discovery phase are going to come in handy as we shape the definition of your brand. We’ll review any existing positioning statements behind your brand through an unbiased, informed lens. Through this lens we’ll be able to ascertain whether or not the statement is meaningful and relevant to your customers and if it sufficiently sets you apart from the competition.

Voice and Key Messages

During this phase we’ll also define your brand voice and frame up key messages that will serve as the foundation for your marketing materials as they take shape over the course of your marketing plan. We will strategically design these elements to resonate with your key audience and support your brand goals.

Phase 3: Vision

Strategic Tenets

These are the pillars that will drive your strategic marketing approach. Built on the discovery and definitions phases and articulated as guiding principles, they will be reviewed, refined, and finalized before we apply them to our recommendations and creative work.

Customer Journey Mapping

Before we can talk to your audience, we must first understand the path they take to becoming a loyal customer. The path starts with consideration and moves through preference and purchase until they ultimately arrive at the advocate stage. Your customer journey map will outline specific messages and tactics for each step in the journey and break out the channel mix necessary to reach your audience.

Phase 4: Delivery

Marketing Tactics

This is where we get to the good stuff: detailing the specific marketing tactics you’ll need to employ to achieve your brand and business objectives. We’ll walk you through each tactic, explaining how it will serve to tell your brand story and reach your audience at any given phase of their buyer journey.

Key Performance Indicators

We are firm believers in the idea that anything worth doing is worth measuring. Every individual marketing tactic will have its own set of metrics attached, but each of these metrics will connect to high-level key performance indicators. We’ll collaborate with your team to identify these KPIs and make sure you understand how success will be measured.

Rollout Timeline

Tactical rollout details vary for every client and every marketing plan. We’ll configure your timeline based on your business objectives. Have a product launch that’s just around the corner? We’ll shuffle the rollout to make sure you have the materials you need to support it. Need to educate your sales team before driving leads? We’ll take that into consideration as we develop your marketing plan.

Typical Rollout Example

  • Foundation Development
  • Tactical Implementation
  • Targeted Campaign Development
  • Management and Maintenance

Budget Allocation

Based on everything we’ve learned of your business objectives and marketing budget over the course of this process and everything we’ve learned about marketing over the course of our collective 100 some odd years of experience, we’ll provide budget allocation recommendations for each proposed tactic. There are no hard numbers tied to the budget at this time, simply a breakdown of what you should be spending and where.

Phew. You made it! The entire process typically takes somewhere between four to eight weeks. When it’s done you’ll have a finely tuned marketing plan of action, and you’ll have a solid foundation from which to tell your brand story. Of course, the journey has just begun and we won’t let you go it alone. We’ll be here to execute on the tactics we’ve outlined, measure their success, and refine accordingly. All to ensure your marketing continues to support your brand and business goals.

Olive & Company
Olive & Company
Founded in 2003, Olive & Company has dedicated our existence to a single purpose: providing finely tuned Modern Marketing solutions that drive brands and deliver business results. By helping brands stay in tune with emerging trends and technology, we give them the tools they need to adapt and refine their strategies to better engage and inspire their audiences.