Your company marketing plan is the road map for your success. No two plans are identical, however there a 4 essential strategies your plan must include in order for it to be effective.

Remember strategies are the big picture elements of your plan and the tactics are the specific action items you will implement, so in this article we will focus on the broader view.

The strategies that will be presented here can be tactically implemented in a variety of ways which will give you flexibility in your company marketing plan. But don’t leave any of these four out or you may be missing a big opportunity.

The four essential strategies are; understanding the cost of acquiring a new customer, engaging with an appropriate introduction, gaining permission for a further conversation, and a following up with a vibrant customer relationship management (CRM) system.

These may look like familiar steps in a basic sales process, but when applied on a strategic level to your company marketing efforts your overall effectiveness will greatly increase.

The cost of acquiring a new customer

One of the biggest mistakes marketers make is that they don’t identify the sales cost associated with obtaining a new customer. This cost can be incurred and calculated both on the lead level and the actual sale level. Regardless of which method you use it is imperative that you know how much you need to spend to ultimately acquire a paying customer. Without this number, the measurement piece of your marketing metrics will be immediately flawed.

I have seen many business owners ecstatic at the response to a particular marketing campaign based on the number of respondents the campaign generated, however after calculating the cost to acquire those leads is scrutinized, the party comes to an abrupt end.

Determining this number takes a little research, but when you know it and own it your marketing will never be the same!

Engaging with an appropriate introduction

Company marketing plans often do a good job of defining a target customer profile, but a terrible job of how to approach that market. A common mistake made by small business owners is to assume that just because a prospect is ideally suited for their product or service that they should be wide open to hearing your sales story.

Truth is that most business owners are bombarded with sales messages every day and the last thing they want is to hear another one. The solution to this problem is to have a prospecting system that utilizes a “pull” mechanism rather than a “push” mechanism when it comes to your initial introduction. This can be accomplished with a proper balance of networking, referral marketing, social media interaction, and a soft approach.

There are many ways on a tactical level to implement this, but without a proper introduction strategy your efforts will be much less effective.

Gaining permission for a further conversation

Unless you are selling an overly-commoditized widget the “conversation” you have with your prospect leading up to the sale is probably the most crucial piece of the process. It is during this conversation that trust is built and potential objections are overcome.

One of the worst situations you can find yourself in is when you have an abundance of leads and nothing coherent to talk about. You key messages must be crafted in advance and your sales funnel should be modeled for your entire staff so everyone knows the importance and value of each step of the conversation.

Again, there are an abundance of ways to structure this on a tactical basis. However, if you leave this map of conversations, or sales funnel model, out of your plan you will create a bottleneck that will stall sales and lose opportunities.

Vibrant customer relationship management (CRM) system

Once you achieve any degree of success you will be faced with the challenge of organizing and maintaining the data about the status and viability of both your customers and prospects. A vibrant and robust CRM tool is essential. There are many on the market and with a little research you can find one that will be the appropriate fit for your company.

The key is in how you use your CRM system on a strategic marketing level. The CRM system should not be overseen by the I.T. department, but rather the marketing or sales department. Each member of the sales and marketing team needs to be not only fully trained on how to use the system, but also how it incorporates into the strategy of the company. Visualizing this with a process map is usually a good way to introduce this to your team. Show them each step of the sales process and how the data for a customer or prospect is used within the CRM system.

Make it a priority that adoption of the CRM system is part of your marketing culture at your business. There is nothing worse than a poorly implemented system with incomplete data.