Can a business grow and succeed without a marketing plan? Maybe yes…maybe no. But why would you take such a risk with something that is so important in your life and means so much to you (and your family)? A business is your livelihood, your future and the future of your family. That’s important stuff—it’s also why a marketing plan is so important. Chances are you are highly invested in your business—in both money and in time. Why leave the growth and success of your business to chance?
I am not a big fan of “throwing it all against the wall and seeing what sticks”. That usually, at the very least, causes you to spend more of your very precious marketing budget than you really need to spend. I am all for testing and trying things, but without a plan you are usually doing things with no particular direction. That is often time-consuming and expensive and your activities are likely not cohesive with each other.
A marketing plan is your roadmap for a specified period of time. It outlines the activities you will do, the goals you want to achieve and gives you an overall look at your business and what needs to be done. It allows you to take a proper look at all you should be doing and this is where the decisions can be made.
- What should I be doing to market my business?
- What can I afford to do to market my business?
- If I can’t afford to do everything I feel I need to do to market my business, what is a priority (a “must-have”) and what is less of a priority (a “like-to-have”).
- What are the goals and expected results of each marketing activity?
- What is my target audience?
- How can I best reach my target audience and how can I do it most cost-effectively?
- What is my messaging?
- What does my brand and my company stand for—what I want people to think of when they think of my company?
Without a marketing plan, you will probably not ask these questions. If the answers to these questions are not easy answers, you are not properly prepared to proceed with marketing initiatives. You will likely be trying activities that do not have a chance to work. Frustration will follow—you will feel like you are wasting your time and that marketing is not worth the time and budget investment. It is a vicious circle that is hard to emerge from and the reason why so many businesses do not succeed—they are not doing what they need to do from the beginning.
A marketing plan “forces” you to think of all these things…and more. I don’t want you to think that a marketing plan is drudgery and painful. It really will help you in the long run—you will save time, money and have the best view of your business as a result of a marketing plan. Your thought process will be well organized and your activities will be cohesive. The content you produce will be repurposed often throughout all of your marketing activities. Being able to do this will make your initial efforts…worth the effort.
Marketing is essential for EVERY business. Marketing is also an everyday activity. This is why a marketing plan is so important. Rest assured—your competitors would like nothing more than their competitors (translation: YOU and YOUR BUSINESS) to be unprepared and even not market their business. Your competitors dream of advantages like this!
A marketing plan IS your outline for success. It increases your chances for choosing the path to success.