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Planning Your Marketing

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Developing a Marketing Plan: A Strategic Process

Once you’ve formulated your messages and developed a visual identity, you’re ready to develop a marketing plan that identifies the best methods for communicating with key audiences. The marketing plan should support and advance strategic priorities, allowing your unit to leverage resources by using existing communications more effectively or by choosing to remedy ineffective communications.

Begin With Your Strategic Plan

If your unit has already developed a strategic plan, review the plan with your dean or department head, asking him/her to identify priorities for the organization.

Conduct a Marketing Plan Exercise

Use the Marketing Plan Exercise PowerPoint to conduct exercises with two to three groups to craft the marketing plan. Each group of eight to 12 participants should consist of a mix of interested faculty, administrators, students and staff (you can use the same groups that assisted with the messaging exercises). Participants are asked to address the areas below, as well as to review and prioritize goals, determine audiences, and select communications vehicles. Meetings should last approximately two hours.

List Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats

Incorporate the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis information from the strategic plan into the PowerPoint exercise and review with the groups. Use the SWOT to determine areas of strength that might add momentum to your unit’s communications efforts.

Identify and Prioritize Your Goals

Include the prioritized goals from the dean or top administrator into the “Goals” slide. Ask the group to add other goals that should be on the list. Have the group prioritize the goals to identify the top three.

Define Your Audiences

Review the goals then ask “Who are the people who can help you reach these three goals?” These are your audiences. There may be multiple audiences for each goal. Next to each audience, identify the current methods that the college or unit uses to communicate with them. Brainstorm new ways of reaching these audiences.

There are myriad ways to communicate with your audiences. Think broadly about opportunities and consider these communications: electronic, event-based, person-to-person, or print. If you are unsure of the most effective ways to communicate with your audiences, you may gather feedback through a focus group or survey.

Marketing is a Shared Responsibility

During the marketing plan development process, your group will find that marketing is a shared responsibility among administrators, faculty, and staff. For example, a college or unit’s Communications Specialist may be the most effective person to manage an Annual Report, but he or she will need information and guidance from various individuals within the unit to make it a robust piece. On the other hand, faculty members may be the most effective at managing presentations at conferences while the central communications office can support their efforts by providing consistent messages and images. Both efforts reveal the excellence of the college or unit to key audiences, but responsibility is shared.

If your unit has not developed a strategic plan, Public Affairs encourages you to view the planning framework that has been used by colleges and units on campus and use it to start the process. All successful marketing plans support the goals of the strategic plan.

Next: Your Action Plan