Great marketing isn’t something that just ‘happens’. You can’t just cross your fingers or wave a wand and magically attract all the customers and sales you want.
Like many things in life if you want to see results from marketing, you need a plan. There’s no such thing as a finished marketing strategy – it’s an evolving process that is continually measured and tweaked, to align with your changing business aims, and your learnings from your market.
And if you want more certainty from your marketing, a plan is a must. It will help you not just to set ambitious goals, but to break them down into manageable, bite size chunks.
Setting tangible objectives for your company and your marketing activity will also enable you to accurately assess whether your marketing is a success or failure. It will show you where to focus your time, budget and effort, and give you insights into which activities to continue investing in, and which to drop.
So, here are 17 excellent reasons why your business needs a marketing plan:
- It ends second guessing and assuming, and allows you to make decisions based on fact, analysis and experience.
- Facts equals less risk and less room for error.
- The research from the outline of your marketing plan will enable you to truly know you are talking to your customers in the right way with the right content.
- You’ll spend your budget wisely based on solid decisions.
- You’ll manage your cash flow better by spreading out your marketing activity over the year.
- It enables you to identify new opportunities using the free time you have, as your marketing activities have been pre scheduled and taken care of automatically.
- You’ll ensure you’re using the right blend of the marketing mix, for example reaching out to your customers using methods that work for them.
- Knowing your customers or target audience will help you determine where to use your marketing budget for maximum impact.
- You’ll identify any potential threats within your market through competitor analysis, and engage customers to feedback through your social media.
- You’ll be able to pre-empt problems like slumps in sales or slow periods before they manifest themselves.
- You’ll maintain and grow your reputation to customers, potential customers, suppliers and partners.
- You’ll be able to maximise your internal and external recourses.
- You’ll establish your position in the market through effective and continuous marketing, and be seen as the market leader.
- The research from the outline of your marketing plan will help you to differentiate your business from the crowd and be clear about your USP (unique selling point).
- You’ll spend your budget wisely based on solid decisions, rather than risk it on guess work.
- You’ll ensure your marketing is proactive and organised, and not reactive and knee jerk.
- You’ll be able to look beyond where your business is now, and plan for future growth.
What should be in your marketing plan?
So what should be in your marketing plan? There are a number of online templates that are a good starting point for working out your strategy. We use a seven-step formula to create marketing plans for our clients:
- Objective Setting – set yourself goals
- Defining the messaging – what points do you want to convey to customers and leads
- Defining a strategy – how are you going to achieve your goals and get your message across
- Defining the target audience – who is it who buys or should buy your product or service. Who are you trying to reach?
- Developing the tactics
- Implementing the plan – how are you going to achieve your goals through plans? Such as advertising, PR, email marketing, online marketing, social media and so on
- Measuring and evaluation – follow up! Make sure you know your ROI (return on investment).
Whatever shape or size your marketing plan, the important point is to have one! It will make you more focussed and more successful, and it will make the most of your budget.