7 Reasons Why Your Business Needs A Marketing Plan
April 20, 2020
Author: Liam Dunne
Reading Time: 3 minutes
If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.
You’ve probably all heard those words many times before. Contrary to popular belief, they weren’t actually uttered by Benjamin Franklin (well they might have been, just not on record). They were however written down by popular American televangelist Robert H. Schuller in 1973 in his book, ‘You Can Become the Person You Want To Be’.
In it, he surmised the following:
“Remember: Most people fail, not because they lack talent, money, or opportunity; they fail because they never really planned to succeed. Plan your future because you have to live there! If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”.
Your business is no different. Most people get into a business because they have a passion for selling something, or a passion for business. As an owner, however, it is very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations of your business and your time can quickly become a commodity as rare as toilet paper in a Covid-19 lockdown. In order to get shit done you have to be very deliberate and focused with your time.SMART
A business plan is a vital tool for mapping out your time and efforts and your marketing plan is one of the foundational aspects of your business plan. Why? Because cash flow is the lifeblood of any business, without which a business comes to a grinding halt. Cash flow comes from sales, which comes from successfully marketing your products or services to enough customers. Capiche? Savvy!
So here are seven good reasons why you need a marketing plan:
- It focuses your mind. A marketing plan is your chance to do some big thinking. You need to come up with the ideal person or group of people you want to sell your products or services to (your customer persona(s)). You also need to decide what kind of company you want to be, and how you want to be perceived by your customers (your brand persona). You should focus on the strengths and weaknesses of your business (product and HR) as well as the opportunities in the marketplace and any threats from your competition (SWOT analysis).
- It helps make you SMART. Playing with a ball on a field is just an aimless kick about, but as soon as you put some goals down, the activity gains a higher purpose. When you’re setting goals for your business you want to make sure they are SMART goals. They need to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. But you can’t ‘do’ a goal, you can only ‘do’ an action. Your marketing plan will help you break down your overall goals and strategies into individual, actionable, tactics.
- It streamlines your workflow. Having a plan and communicating it with your staff ensures that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet (this can help ensure brand consistency). It also helps to organize and prioritise both your time and that of your staff. When you only have a couple of hours per day to dedicate to do marketing, a plan that everyone can work on will ensure you keep on taking bites out of it every day without wasting time thinking about what needs to be done.
- It motivates you. Nothing slays a procrastination monkey like a plan with some clear deadlines attached to it. Throw in our brain’s ability to take an arbitrary goal and turn it into something important (because of our sense of achievement garnered from completing tasks and goals) and your marketing plan can energise you and your staff better than a 6-pack of RedBull.
- It gives you access to money. As well as a by-product of a good marketing plan being cash flow derived from customer sales, it can also help when asking for funds from a bank or investors. They will want to see how you plan on generating sales and included in your plan should be a marketing budget.
- Helps you measure your ROI. If you don’t have a plan or your plan essentially is just ‘throwing some stuff out there and hoping some of it sticks’, it becomes very difficult to test and measure. Ideally you want to show a return on investment for every dollar that you put into your marketing and you also want to be able to say clearly what worked and what didn’t, so you can do more of what works, tweak or cut what didn’t and so get better results. A marketing plan will lay out all your marketing activity in a clear manner, so you have a good handle on what’s been spent, when and the results that it has yielded.
- It coordinates all your efforts. Whatever the goals of your business, thinking about them and then creating a marketing plan to address them specifically means that all your efforts are strategically moving you towards your desired goal. Your branding, your customer service, your sales team are all acting in a coordinated manner to move you towards your end goals. Once you have a road map, it is easy to update it, and tweak it for subsequent years or to any changes in the market. Your marketing plan should be a living document that evolves and grows as your business does but driven by data accumulated from measuring each step of the plan.