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Developing and executing marketing plans and campaigns is an often overlooked aspect of growing a business. Many prepare a marketing plan for the year ahead only for it to sit on the shelf until next year. What’s the use of all that planning if you’re only going to watch your plan go unimplemented?

If this is the trend with your own business or if you’ve never prepared and executed a marketing plan before, you need to answer the basic What, Who, How, Where and When questions to ensure successful implementation so you can actually benefit from all that research and planning.

What Do You Plan to Market?

The most successful planners start with what they want to accomplish. In this case, it’s what you want to market and who you will be marketing it to. Janet Kyle Altman of Kaufman Rossin¬†says:

“By all means, take the time to understand your target audience, assess your competitors, identify your brand – what really differentiates you. Decide your strategies. Maybe building brand awareness is key in the coming year, or demonstrating thought leadership. Select your tactics: do you need media relations, social media or community engagement to meet your goals? “

Of course, make sure you can realistically implement these things.

Who Is in Charge of Execution?

The next thing you need to decide is who will handle the execution of the plan. You can handle things yourself or assign it to an individual or team. However, you might want to consider hiring a marketing consultant instead as a dedicated employee or team can actually be more expensive. MHK Solutions says:

“Consultants typically charge more per hour than you might pay an on-going employee, but they provide professional expertise for a part-time investment. Further, marketing consultants also offer value by being well-connected throughout the community with resources needed to accomplish deliverables quickly and economically. When you consider all of the benefits, the overall annual cost will be significantly less than hiring an employee.”

How Can It Be Done?

Once you know what you are marketing and who you are marketing to, it’s pretty easy to figure out what your goals are and the strategies you’ll use to achieve it. For example, if you own a hardware store, you’ll want to raise awareness among your target audience. That would be anyone who lives in the neighborhood and surrounding areas.

Where Will You Be Doing Your Marketing?

When it comes to the question of “where”, there are a number of locations that need to be considered. The first location is where you will be working out of, which would likely be from out of your office. Your target audience will determine where you will be marketing to.

When Will You Execute It?

Finally, you have to execute your plan. When you execute it is often important, as it helps ensure that you have a specific time when you will follow through with your strategy so your business can actually benefit from it. According to Masterful Marketing:

“…the real key to success in marketing is the ability to execute the plan, working each activity until you have attracted more clients than you can handle. I’ve seen many businesses put together a plan but then don’t follow through with the plan, wasting so much time and missing real opportunities to build a successful business.”

It can be particularly critical if the timing of the execution is important to success. For example, you’ll want to build up awareness of your products in time for the Christmas buying rush if they are basically for that season only. If you miss the opportunity to execute the plan with perfect timing, you might not be able to generate enough awareness to drive sales since no one would know about your product.