The Focus Approach – O – Optimize Your Plan

April 18, 2016

FOCUS:  O ~ Optimize Your Plan or your Path to Success!

Over the last few weeks I’ve had several favorable comments on the FOCUS approach to a marketing program. There are many ways to market and this approach is just one way to plan, organize, develop and implement marketing programs.  I’m excited to be presenting these 5 steps to an actionable marketing plan to a group in Asheville in June.  More about that to come!

Read more about FOCUS in an earlier post, including Finding your niche/positioning.  Next is “Optimize Your Plan and here are some thoughts on how to develop your plan:

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A marketing plan is an important tool and guide for business.  Successful companies plan and budget marketing activities with a blueprint for the year.  Creative marketing plans resonate – use information, materials, images, graphics, and calendars that work for you.  There’s no one size fits all.  A few organized pages can be a great guide while sometimes more narrative and descriptive categories are useful.   General business books, marketing books, online resources, classes – all provide sample marketing plan templates. The categories that I use most often for the creative marketing plans I develop:

Positioning and target audience (from Step #1), marketing objectives and marketing strategies, key messages, Make it Happen! tactics, calendar, budget and tracking/evaluation.

A quick summary of the plan categories:

Target Audience: 

  • Define and describe the primary and secondary target audiences in terms of age, income, motivations, geographic areas – really working to define customers and potential customers as specifically as possible. Later you’ll match the media outlets and other public relations opportunities to the target interest.

Marketing Objectives and Strategies:

  • What do you want for the end result/accomplishment of your marketing program?  customer trial, sales increase, orders, volume, new distribution points, new geographic areas?  These are examples – your marketing objectives will be unique to your business.
  • Marketing Strategies:   This section is very specific in terms of what approaches are recommended to reach the target audience(s).  For example: “Use of consistent communications with press update every 6 weeks or “Use cost-efficient and effective promotion and communications tactics.”

Make it Happen! 

  • This is a helpful section in that it spells out what we can do to help ensure success.  There’s lots that is outside of our control – Make it Happen! outlines those things that are in our control.  One easy and effective example – “Develop a plan, implement the plan and track results!”  Or “Learn and test one new social media platform quarterly. “

Key Messages:  

  • This section follows the positioning statement and states the primary and secondary messages that will be communicated to the selected target audience.  All marketing vehicles should work cohesively to reinforce positioning and messaging.

Tactics – Promotion and Media Vehicles Selected: 

  • Outline the tactics that will best meet your objectives, support your strategies, reach your target and be within the budget. This is where you select those vehicles that meet the criteria.  Examples of tactics include press releases, media kits, paid advertising (TV, radio, print, online), specific social media, direct mailers, and on and on…


  • Develop a budget for marketing programs.  Some tactics may not have a direct cost (example – sending in a press release) however there is a cost in time allotment for developing materials.  Also if you hire marketing and public relations assistance there will be a cost.  I work with clients to teach them how to do their own marketing.  That said, of course I’m also an advocate of hiring professional marketing help!
  • Common elements to budget for:  brand identity elements:  logo, business cards, business stationary, rack/promotional card/brochure; advertising costs, materials costs:  folders for press information, promotional items, website development/maintenance/hosting; marketing events.  These are examples only and will be unique for each business.


  • Once the tactics are determined, a promotional calendar is used for scheduling, for planning and for tracking results.  Whatever format works best.  A simple document or a more comprehensive flowchart.  I like to include all the marketing elements on one spreadsheet – it provides a great overview of all the marketing vehicles that are working for your business.

Tracking & Evaluation:

  • Refer to your marketing objectives and make sure you are measuring results on the objectives – example – sales units/revenue, customer trials, etc.  Each communications vehicle can be tracked to determine what is contributing to success or what needs to be tweaked.  For example, if you ran a print ad – what was the response to the call to action?  Did a press release run locally or regionally?  What was the response to the call to action?  Consider the metrics you will use for each all of the elements of your marketing.  These elements ideally will all work together to meet business objectives.  There are qualitative measures also to take into consideration as you evaluate individual components and the full “marketing mix”.

Remember to have fun with your marketing plan and continue to learn and develop new ideas.  I like to fill marketing plans with images and graphics that resonate with the customer, instruct and are easy to follow.

Image Details: (Photo:  Bruce Siulinski Photography  /  Marshall Point Lighthouse, Port Clyde, ME)