We call a sandwich with ham in the middle a ham sandwich. But when you read a menu, is it the ham that entices you to order the sandwich?

Here’s what I mean. Which sandwich would you order?

Honey Ham Griller: Thick-sliced honey baked ham, just how your grandma makes it, on buttered Texas toast grilled in a cast-iron pan. Topped with lettuce, tomato slab, caramelized onions and our secret savory honey mustard mayo.

Ham Sandwich: Our signature ham sandwich.

I know which sandwich I’d order. When faced with creating a marketing plan, business owners think strategy: how to market their message, how to generate more website traffic, how to set more appointments, how to make more sales. Your strategy is ham. It’s the meat of the sandwich. But if you jump straight to the meat, you miss the crucial why and what, the details separating your sandwich from others, that support your how.

WHY: The perfect sandwich is built on purpose.

The chef of the Honey Ham Griller knows why he cuts the ham in thick slices and why the savory honey mustard sauce is the perfect complement to balance the acidity of the tomato and the sweetness of the ham and onions. This sandwich was not built on accident. Be purposeful when cooking up your marketing plan.

Know your why. First, know why you’re in business to begin with. Understand your core values, mission and vision. Anna Lawrence, partner at Vantage Consultants, suggests business owners ask themselves two great “why” questions:

Why would anyone want to use my product or service?

Why is my product or service better than what my competitor can offer?

“Answering these questions will position your business as meaningful to your customer,” Lawrence says. “The first will make them hungry. The second will have them craving your ham sandwich as opposed to the turkey they were previously considering.”

WHAT: Find a perfect pairing.

Then determine what you want to achieve, and set goals.  Do you want to gain customers? Generate referrals? Reach a new target market? As you’re researching and planning your activities, you can refer back to your why to ensure the data supports your  choices and entices your target market.

With your goals in mind, you can begin researching, documenting and gathering the ingredients you’ll need to create a perfect marketing plan. You’ll need market research; a target market; brand and product positioning; competitive analysis; and a budget.

HOW: Make a mouth-watering proposition.

Now that you’ve done your homework, you can consider the tactical activities you’ll engage in, the daily grind of your marketing endeavors. Last but not least, consider how you plan on monitoring the success of your plan.

“Doing all the work of marketing without tracking is like finishing your meal and wishing you would have ordered something else now that you’re already full,” explains Lawrence. “Not only can you find out what is not working, but you may also find things that are working much better than you expected. Smart business owners set benchmarks to track and measure throughout the marketing campaign and are willing to make adjustments when opportunities arise.”

Your marketing sandwich is more than just meat.

Strategy, while an essential element in your marketing plan, isn’t the only component in your marketing sandwich. Examine your why and what first and you’ll concoct the perfect recipe for marketing success!

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