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The concept of research and planning is often overlooked in marketing and communications. Once an idea is created or a revenue goal is set, it is easy to get excited about putting your marketing efforts into action. However, the research and planning stage is vital step that will optimize your overall marketing efforts and almost always guarantee an ROI if done correctly. 

Developing a strong integrated marketing and communications plan (IMC Plan) helps keep goals and objectives in line with your business brand. The research and planning process is where Marketers begin refining the identified marketing objectives and further define goals, KPIs, and ROI for those efforts.

Business planning is about regularly setting goals, tracking progress toward those goals, and making changes to your marketing strategy as you learn more about your customers. Your IMC plan should do the same.

There are many things businesses don’t know when first starting out, which makes planning and research a top priority for being successful. Understanding your target market and audience is key to success and the only way to do this is with research.

When researching your industry, product or service you uncover things that greatly impact the approach you take. There are a few staple research steps all marketers should incorporate in their process.

Where to Start with Marketing Research and Planning :

Start with the big picture: Look at the industry research and reports to see if there are any opportunities in the market you may not have known about. Then look at your overall company revenue goals and strategic initiatives. Where can marketing and communications help?

Know where you have been: Start by looking into your past. Ask yourself, what has worked? What hasn’t worked, and why? Audit your brand, your collateral, as well as past and present marketing and communications efforts. This practice is often referred to as a Communications Audit.

Look to others: Select at least three competitors or brands you would like to emulate and conduct a Competitive Analysis. Just like you did with your own audit, see what they are doing well, where they could improve, and start formulating ideas and plans for your own efforts based on what you learn.

Summarize what you learned: Organize the above in a formal research report, summarizing your findings and identifying the important communications and marketing takeaways for each effort. Then you are ready to start working on your Marketing and Communications strategy and you can move on the fun part: planning.

Start identifying the “where” and further develop the “who”: This is an important part in the research process and acts as a gateway to the planning phase. Research your target audience, develop who they are by creating marketing personas, and then start researching ways you can reach them. From there you need to research the vehicles you chose for connecting with them and delivering your marketing message, i.e., social and digital platforms they spend time on and how they spend their time there. What type of content do they respond to, etc.

From here you can start planning out your strategies and tactics. This looks different for everyone but a good way of approaching the planning phase is with the SMART goals and objectives approach.

A business’ strategic plan allows room for expansion and growth down the road. Having an integrated marketing and communications plan in place makes identifying marketing and communications opportunities easy as you go as well, allowing use of multiple communications vehicles, and development of different strategies and tactics for achieving one overarching business goal.

Remember, the research and planning process is the first step to success! Do your research and plan out your goals and you’re one step closer to growing your business. Skipping over research and planning can result in a low ROI and overall failure when implementing your marketing efforts.

Need help getting through the research and planning stage? Connect with us today to see how we can help.

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