A Marketing Plan is a Must

A well-created marketing plan can provide you with a road map to build and sustain your brand’s identity.

At its most basic level, a marketing plan consists of defining your positioning statement, outlining your advertising and communications strategy, specifying an environmental branding strategy—and creating a budget. If this sounds a bit daunting, you probably need to solicit some help from a marketing expert. But before you make that decision, it can’t hurt to do a little research on your own. Begin by thinking about the companies and brands that naturally attract your attention. Try to identify the common elements in these advertising and communications strategies. In other words, what are the common themes that engage you? You can learn from your competition. Study the messages they’re communicating—and then do it better.

Kathleen Murphy is founder and president of MurphyEpson, Inc., a marketing consulting firm in Columbus, Ohio. She is in the business of counseling her clients about different types of marketing tactics, and she knows that a good marketing plan is essential. Because Kathleen’s company started with a clear marketing plan, she was able to create the company she envisioned, but beyond that, she is able to help other companies achieve success as well. Whether you’re writing a complex, multi-tiered marketing plan or you’ve decided to take a more basic approach, the important thing is to create a plan. Then, like Kathleen, you’ll be ready to move forward with a road map that will build and sustain your brand’s identity.

Marketing and branding are my specialties. To learn more, go to Life Lesson 11 in Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs.

Your office is where your brand lives.

When determining the creative attributes of your real brand, think color and shape. What speaks to you and your company? Move on to sounds, feel, taste and smell. Imagine these elements and how they bring your brand to life. To accomplish this task, gather magazines and fabrics, and then clip the ones that you find most appealing. And dream.

Tracey Ballas, CEO and president of School-Age NOTES in New Albany, Ohio, started her career as an elementary-school teacher, so she understands this process. When she created the work space for her company, she installed four times the number of recommended lights, using traditional lighting to give the office a more home-like feel. The walls are painted a sunny yellow and filled with original artwork created by professional artists and children. Tracey frequently makes lunch for staff meetings and birthdays, and her two dogs come to work and provide comfort and warmth. Because this is a publishing company where reading is a regular activity, comfy chairs and footrests are the norm. Still, the pace is busy.

If School-Age NOTES walked down the street, what would it look like personified? “It would look like Jennifer Lopez with her energy, style and flair,” says Tracey. “However, it acts more like Mrs. Doubtfire, with warmth, humor, wisdom and a nurturing spirit.”

For more ideas, see Life Lesson 10 of Real You Incorporated: The five senses of branding.