A goal without a plan is just a wish.
Right, I’ll just step down from my soap box and explain why I opened with that sentiment, and why you need to have a plan or some sort of strategy when it comes to marketing your business.
With all the constant social media hype, the introduction of new social platforms all the time and integrated ads; we speak to lots of businesses, big and small, whom assume 10,000 Facebook likes or ‘x’ amount of followers, RT’s and Favourites on Twitter equates business success. They believe that is all the marketing they need to do. Done deal. Wrong.
Don’t fall into the common trap of assuming more traditional marketing methods are no longer effective. They are. And stop giving yourself poor excuses (like the common ones we hear below) why not to make one….
A Marketing Plan is just for big business, not for me, I am too small…
We won’t deny that marketing planning and strategy are far more a part of business life for blue chip companies than for smaller ones. But that’s no reason why a smaller business can’t benefit from a similar approach and steal a march on it’s competitors who aren’t making one!!!
I don’t have time to devise a Marketing Strategy…
Ok you’re super busy, we get that, really we do (and here comes the BUT)…BUT a marketing plan will help you understand your customers, your competitors and your market environment better. It will help you develop a marketing mix that your customers will find highly attractive. Promotions will be better planned. We’d argue time spent on your marketing plan will be time saved several times over as you become much more efficient in your marketing and reap the growth and rewards.
We are the last people to down play the importance of social media – obviously – being a string to our bow. But that is just it… a string to our bow. Social Media is undoubtedly huge, and when ran well, very powerful; but what else are you doing?
3 Reasons Why You MUST HAVE A Marketing Strategy…
Understand your business and it’s environment: When you begin to sculpt out a marketing plan, it requires to you really ‘get under the hood’ of your business. You will look at customers, competitors, products, service offering, and pricing. Essentially all the factors that could affect your ability to operate effectively in the marketplace: the social, legal, economic, political and technological issues that impact on your business; a heady mix when you think about it.
Naturally some aspects will carry a greater importance than others, and the process of developing a marketing plan will help you decide where you should place your priorities; now and in the future.
Clear Decision Making: If you want your business to grow (which we are sure you do) you will need a strategic direction and a plan to get there. A Marketing Plan looks at the factors which affect your business: timescales, budget, and resources for example. Are your products meeting your customers’ needs, should you be developing new products? Are your prices right for your market, or too low, or too high? Do you need to be selling your products online; instead of or in addition to off-line? Do you need extra staff or should you outsource some services? Is your brand being seen? Does it need a PR campaign or a direct-mail campaign to create some coverage for your brand and get it out there and seen?
The framework of a Marketing Strategy means that you will not be taken by surprise by market developments, nor will you be pushed this way and that by unexpected pressures and make panic decisions.
A Marketing Plan integrates long term and short term planning: Think back 3, or maybe 5 years… Things were different weren’t they. The economy has changed, legalities changes, customer needs and spare cash changes. A Marketing Plan is designed to project 3-5 years ahead for your business, giving you the ability to look ahead and to be prepared to meet any changes as and when they occur.
The beauty of a Marketing Plan is it isn’t cast in stone either. As environmental factors change, so can you and your business. You can revisit it regularly, how frequently will depend on the nature of your business and the extent to which the factors affecting it change; making sure it remains relevant to the marketing environment in which you operate. At a more detailed, tactical level your annual plan will dovetail with your strategic plan, ensuring that every action you take is geared towards achieving your strategic goa