It’s not like sales and marketing people don’t have enough to do. With everyone’s schedules jammed with things to do and places to be, it’s no wonder how strategic market planning, particularly the long-range kind, might not make it to the top of your To Do List. But frankly, if it’s not it is a sure sign that somewhere down the road your company may pay a price. And unfortunately, those strategic initiatives can fall through the cracks if they are not prioritized properly.

The new CMO role has become the key to paving the way into new markets, new sales territories, new income streams and yes, into executive meetings reserved for the CEO, CFO and Legal Counsel. What changed? The simple answer is the market has intensified and nothing should be ignored or pushed aside when it comes to forging a new frontier for your company’s growth. Nothing is more important.

What used to stack up as solid marketing is really not going to work today. Here are 5 things strategic market planners must keep in mind today:

1. Put everyone inside your company on your team.
Everyone in your company can give you useful insights and suggestions. Gone are the days that everything comes from research and executive committees. Really, who cares where the idea comes from as long as it comes?

2. Get to know your customers on a first name basis.
This is not optional; rather, it’s a new requirement that you and your full team should aspire. It’s not just for the sales team to do, but also for everyone actively involved in delivering value to your customers. Regardless of your company’s size, the more you are known by your customers the more trust you will earn.

3. Track how much you spend per customer, per market, per year.
A lot has been written on Marketing ROI but still, very few companies actively engage in the tracking and analyzing their marketing expenditures on a weekly/monthly basis. At full throttle your company should be able to both spend and track simultaneously and make adjustments on the fly based on actual data metrics of results. Things to track include awareness scores, leads generated, customer satisfaction, and the list should go on and on.

4. Put your best sales people on your best territories and prospects.
Often companies use the strategy of putting their best people on their toughest challenges. I do not subscribe to this at all! Why punish a high performer with a lousy territory? What makes sense to me is to put your stars where they can make the biggest impact and use the weaker sales reps in the weaker markets to prove themselves. (I welcome your comments!).

5. Make sure your website is aligned with your value proposition and messaging.
What you say in an elevator to a prospect should be found on your website. If it’s not, either your website or you are not using current brand messaging. Either way, they need to harmonize with each other to realize the full impact of your brand and its message. The importance of integration of messaging cannot be overemphasized.

Is all of this really that important? Yes! Consider this recent announcement that HP made:

“Today, HP announced that New York City-based Duggal Visual Solutions has installed an HP Scitex LX800 Printer and an HP Indigo press 5500. The new digital printing systems help the company pursue new opportunities with clients in the art, fashion and cosmetics markets. New York City-based Duggal Visual Solutions Inc. (DVS) has added a latex ink HP Scitex LX800 Printer and an HP Indigo press 5500 to its operations, offering customers a range of new applications such as wall paper, vehicle graphics, fashion “look books,” art catalogs, cosmetic swatches and photo portfolios.”

Why did Duggal Visual Solutions purchase an HP versus the dozens of other equipment at their disposal? Duggal’s chairman said, “When I heard about the Indigo, how they had reduced the effluent, and the amount of packaging for supplies, I was reminded again that HP is a company I want to do business with,” said Duggal. “There is also an array of partially recycled and FSC-certified materials allowing us eco-material options we simply did not have with photographic printing.”

Mr. Duggal knew all of this because HP’s integrated sales and marketing program includes the five points above and puts them into action each day. Not to mention that they have dominated the print space for years. Why? Because their products, services, messaging, customer service, brand marketing, etc., etc., all harmonize throughout their strategic market plan.

Which brings us to the obvious question: how does your strategic market plan measure up? It’s definitely something your chief marketing leader should be able to answer.