Before you create a marketing plan, even before you develop your marketing goals, you need to have a vision. Defining your vision is crucial when you are starting a business. It’s what you picture for your company’s progress and where you hope it will be at a certain point in the future. It is the direction you intend it to take. Without a vision, and a vision statement, how will you be able to determine your goals? And, without goals, how will you know what strategies and tactics to execute? That is why defining your vision is the first step in developing your marketing plan as well as your business plan.
The Vision and Mission – What is the Difference?
Many people confuse the company vision with the company mission. They think they are one and the same. A mission or mission statement is what a company is striving to do today; what its current purpose and endeavors are, and how the business differs from others in its market. A vision is what a company sees (or dreams or desires) for the future state of the business ⸺ the growth and revenue it will achieve, the number of customers it will attract or help, the success it will accomplish. While both the mission and vision are meant to be enduring, “living” statements, the mission is timeless while the vision is time-bound.
Creating a Vision Statement
Defining your vision involves taking what you have in your thoughts and dreams and putting it on paper in a Vision Statement. Like the Mission Statement, the Vision Statement does not need to be lengthy. It can be a simple, even short statement of what and where you want your company to be within specific time frames in the future. What is your vision of your company five years from now? 10 years from now? And so on. One simple example of a vision statement is “to become a leading provider of XXX solution or service with XXX number of customers and earning $XXX revenue in five years.”
Of course, you need to have a realistic vision. That means you need to have an understanding of your industry and where it is going, what trends are emerging in the market and the current state and direction of the economy. It would help to have your vision tied to a current market outlook or trend you are seeing in its initial wave.
Executing Your Vision
Once you develop your vision statement, you need to share it with all your employees in order to excite and motivate them about the progress you want to achieve. However, you want to do more than have the vision statement developed and stored somewhere as an easy reference. And you need to do more than believe in or commit yourself to achieving it. The next step is to identify the marketing goals that align with your Vision. What do you need to do to see your vision become a reality? Using the simple vision example provided above, marketing goals may be developed that focus on any of the following:
- Positioning, packaging or promoting your product or service in the most effective and appropriate way,
- Targeting the right market, which could be a specific market segment/niche, demographic, or geographic area,
- Creating and using messages that convey an effective value proposition, thought-leadership, competitive differentiation, or uniqueness.
- Increasing market awareness and attracting customers and driving them to the company website.
Of course, your goals need to be measurable and actionable. As I’m sure many of you know, it’s best to create SMART goals, SMART standing for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
Driving Your Vision Forward
After creating your Vision Statement, articulating it clearly and establishing the marketing goals for realizing that vision, your next step is to identify the strategies and tactics that will best achieve those goals. Your vision is probably big ⸺ most business owners typically dream big ⸺ but you are not going to realize it without devoting a big effort. That means acting on the marketing goals and implementing the strategies and tactics you outline in your marketing plan. Your execution of your marketing plan’s tactics is critical and it must be consistent and effectively integrate the target activities.
As you know, marketing planning is a process. Defining your vision is the first step. Once you have your vision and have aligned your goals, strategies and tactics with it, you will be setting your business on a clear path forward. By following that path, you will eventually take your business to your desired destination ⸺ fulfillment of your vision.