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It is long overdue for marketing to take responsibilty for creating accountable strategies that not only initiate customer relationships, but develop them. It used to be that marketing and sales were two separate, and sometimes adversarial departments. In reality, it is when marketing and sales overlap and work together that customers start buying. There are many "how-to" books for small business that help identify and guide the development of a marketing plan.
Often in a plan there is a component that looks outward to the larger business environment. One way to get an up-to-date perspective on these external aspects can be a SWOT analysis that identifies the businesses strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in each of the areas listed. The second major aspect that can be found in most marketing plans is an inward look at the business.
After these external and internal appraisals are made, it is important that they are integrated into the overall plan and not forgotten. The first step in the actual plan, the center panel of the model, is to understand the consumer needs. Once the plan is developed, then action steps are created so that the plan can be implemented.
So if this is the business marketing process, what would a community marketing process look like, using these same fundamental principles? A closer look at the internal aspects show many similarities with the business model but there are also a few differences. If you compare the two models you will have noticed that there are several aspects that differ from a traditional business marketing plan. Community culture may seem like something so big that it is impossible to modify but in reality there are small things that can be done, especially if the community is interested in being more new resident friendly.
Another unique community aspect that is within a community's control is infrastructure and the visual first impression. First, the community needs to do some research to find out who is coming to their community now and what brought them here.
The third step in this process is to put the pieces of the puzzle together - the community develops the marketing message and identifies ways to reach the intended audiences.
The final step of the plan is to identify how you are going to reach these target audiences.
Remember web sites are just one e-tool’¦ Facebook, Twitter, the list seems almost endless in how potential new residents can connect with a community. When you start to put together a plan of how to reach the target audiences, it is often about how to put together the right mix of methods, both Internet based as well as traditional, to get the "biggest bang for the marketing buck". Once the plan is complete the final step is to translate it into action and evaluate the results. In the execution of the plan there is usually a listing of what is going to happen, who is going to do it, and by when.
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What do you think about the importance of Strategic Planning?  If you have comments about this topic, please comment below. If you are a small business Owner, President, CEO or Managing Partner of a privately held company in Pittsburgh looking for opportunity and growth for your business, please join our LinkedIn group by clicking here.If you would like to automatically be notified when new blog posts are added to this site, enter your email address in the Follow by Email box on this site. Pittsburgh Small Business Owners serves business professionals in the Pittsburgh, PA area and the western Pennsylvania region. This sample is created using ConceptDraw PRO diagramming software enhanced with Marketing solution from ConceptDraw Solution Park.

This template is created using ConceptDraw PRO diagramming software enhanced with Marketing solution from ConceptDraw Solution Park. Usage of them is covered by Creative Commons “Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives” License. We take that responsibilty seriously, and have researched, developed, and tested the Internet Marketing 5 step process that ensures results can be tracked, measured, and improved on.
Marketing’s job was to capture attention, create desire, make contact and then pass the job on to sales. Marketing would defend itself by saying that sales did not follow through, or did not listen to the customer.
By combining the experience (which comes from sales) and the message (which comes from marketing) customers are delighted with their experience with your company. In the example shared, this is called " internal contingencies" and include the business's vision, mission, objectives and goals, strategy and culture. And then finally the process encourages the business to craft a position statement, conceptualizing why this product or service is tailored to the identified market segment. It mirrors the business process model in many ways but it also frames and incorporates some aspects unique to community development. Patricia Kennedy, University of Nebraska Professor of Marketing, provided this example of a marketing process model which she has used in her undergraduate classes.
Just like in the business world, there are external aspects that a community can do very little about- they need to be recognized and incorporated into the plan. A community generally does have control over their community vision, mission, objectives and marketing goals, strategies, actions, culture, infrastructure and visual first impression. The addition of "actions, culture that welcomes, community infrastructure, and visual first impression" tailors this plan to the community setting. The word "actions" is listed there as a reminder that there are many entities in a community setting and they all contribute to the look and feel of community life.
For instance, just a community discussion on ways to develop or strengthen actions that convey a "welcoming" tone within the community culture would be one technique to start the process. Past priorities and actions can set the stage for an inviting community with plenty of curb appeal. The next step, shown in the center panel, is actually the nuts and bolts of the market planning process. In addition, it is also helpful to find out from the business community what types of skill and expertise are needed, both in the short-term and long-term. That can be done by looking at that research data and asking two questions: what groups seem to match up to our community characteristics and what are our competitive advantages based on your assets?
Examples of community slogans with a strong marketing message can be easily found on the Internet.
Today one common way people are finding out about communities is through community web sites and other Internet based venues.
Unlike the Internet, that are typically available to everyone, when you use traditional marketing methods, you often need to select a method that truly reaches the audience.
Accountability will be needed so one or more people should expect to monitor the actions to make sure all parts of the plan are being implemented and if changes are needed that they do not negatively impact another part of the plan. It can be as simple as coming up with a group of things that one would "expect to see, like to see and love to see" from the effort. And the prefect execution of a plan could result in nothing if the plan was not designed well. ConceptDraw PRO provides export of vector graphic multipage documents into multiple file formats: vector graphics (SVG, EMF, EPS), bitmap graphics (PNG, JPEG, GIF, BMP, TIFF), web documents (HTML, PDF), PowerPoint presentations (PPT), Adobe Flash (SWF). Listed below is an example of a market planning process designed for the business sector *.

In the model listed above they are called "external contingencies" and are aspects such as the competition, legal and political climate, demographics, technology, culture, physical environment and the economy. In reality, there is a constant flow of information between both of these aspects and the plan so that changes in the plan can be made as shifts and changes, both external and internal, happen over time. What do the consumers want and need, who is out there in the market providing it, how has this want and need evolved over time? The positioning statement is also about how this business meets and exceeds the competition in the marketplace for this product or service. However, one difference between the business plan and a community plan is the way one can look at these external factors.
Organizations, events, and activities all set the tone for how the community is perceived and ultimately viewed by new as well as established residents. A result from this kind of conversation could be the development of a newcomer's picnic in August as a way to introduce new residents to key community members and groups before school starts.
If the community has not developed a brand or identity that can used in logos and slogans, this might be the perfect time to create one. For instance, if you want to reach early retirees, pick a magazine that has a high readership for this group if you plan to do paid advertisements. Fortunately, the evaluation of the project will give insights into what worked and what did not so the project can be fine-tuned for use in the future. These are major influences on the business and they are also, generally speaking, out of the business's control. Again, internally a SWOT can be done to hone in on the direction of the business, in relation to the ever-changing business environment. Or perhaps it is the development of an electronic newsletter or blog that helps new residents become better connected with community events and activities.
Here is one example: Let's say that your community seems to be attracting young families (parents age 30 to 40) who have relatives in the general area. By looking at several target groups at the same time it is possible to find the common element or elements that cut across several groups that really identifies the community. The message is usually broad enough to allow for more details to really highlight unique aspects of the community but at the same time it still has an emotional hook that makes you want to find out more. They often use the community web site as a quick filtering tool - if the website looks good and it has the information they want and need, they will spend more time checking out the site and in reality, the community.
Or better still, perhaps you have a talented volunteer that could write a flattering article about the region or community for that magazine.
Never-the-less, they need to be acknowledged and watched because they can often seriously impact how a business functions and ultimately a marketing plan.
But there also may be ways to look at these conditions in another manner - by thinking about them in terms of what community assets are there to mitigate impacts or to even leverage to the community's benefit. They seem to be drawn to the good school system and appreciate the short commute to a regional trade center.
The reverse also holds true - if the site looks old and outdated and the information they are wanting is not there or is difficult to find, people are quick to move on to the next site and community. Radio and television advertisements can also be tailored to programming slots and times of day to reach specific groups. They seem to be drawn to the area because it is relatively close to several significant recreational opportunities.
However, the more you know about both of these groups and what is pulling them to your area, the easier it will be to communicate these features or benefits of community life to them.

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