No doubt, you’ve heard the adage: “Failing to plan is planning for failure.” On the other hand, it’s been said that while planning is important, the actual plans themselves are useless. Whether in overall business planning or your marketing planning, this apparent contradiction applies equally.

Why? Well, while it is important to invest time and thought into your marketing strategy, as you see what works and what doesn’t, elements of your marketing plan will and must be modified. You’ll see opportunities that you couldn’t see earlier in the planning process. You’ll discover and learn new things. So, how can you plan for marketing success?

The key to successful marketing is to effectively promote awareness of the existence and value of your product or service, to the right people who are ready to buy, right now. Along these lines, I recommend the following proven approach that adheres to sound marketing principles:

First, establish the Core Market Position for your company. Your Core Market Position defines:

Who you are marketing to
What is your prospective customer’s need or desire
How your company’s offering fills that need or desire
Why your company is the solution provider of choice.
Second, create your Core Marketing Message. Your Core Marketing Message clearly states
The commitment of your company to your customers and clients
The features and benefits of your products and services
What customers and clients get by using them
What’s so great about them (in your end-consumer’s mind)
Your guarantee of lasting quality
Third, “package” your communication. Take the concepts of your Core Market Position statement and Core Marketing Message and put them into words, both in written and verbal forms. The emphasis here is on crystal-clear communication. Your Core Market Position and Core Marketing Message need to be presented in ways that capture the attention of the right people through web sites, brochures, flyers, and conversations with others.
Fourth, consider promotion. Only after the previous three steps have been adequately addressed is it appropriate to consider strategies for getting the word out.

Here’s a simple four-phase approach to effectively promoting your products and services:

1. Attraction. In this era of information overload, you need to effectively capture the attention of the people you can benefit from your offerings.

2. Discovery. In this phase, both you and your customer (or client or patient) simple explore how you might work together or how your products might fit a need or solve a problem. This is the information gathering phase.

3. Conversion. Once you’ve gotten their attention, you need to help them to see the value in using your products and services so they are compelled to purchase them.

4. Consumption. Once your customers have made a purchase from you, the sale isn’t complete, yet. Unless they actually use your products and services, they won’t get their value. And, if they don’t get the value, they won’t ever come back to buy more or tell others about them. So, it’s important that you support your customers and clients to actually use your services and products, long after the actual sale.

Summary: Building your business based on sound marketing principles is critical to success. Your Core Market Position and Core Marketing Message serve as the foundational platform for launching all of your marketing campaigns and strategies. Once these fundamentals have been established, they can be appropriately refined, depending on your changing needs and the demands of the marketplace.