Do you have a REAL marketing plan?

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Image courtesy of William Iven 

Which one of these are you?

The no-plan plan

It’s surprising how many businesses don’t have any sort of marketing plan. ‘We are doing well, we have long-term clients, we don’t need to do marketing’ is something I hear from time to time. Great the business is going well, but what about the future? A marketing plan is not just about growth, it’s about risk management too.

The plan with holes in it, or the no-clear-direction plan

Other businesses have a marketing plan of sorts but perhaps don’t understand what it should involve – or they haven’t taken time to really think about who their main audience is and what they’re looking for – so their messages or methods in marketing don’t work as well as they should. There’s a lot of groundwork to be done before writing up that plan and launching into (sometimes expensive and often time-consuming) marketing campaigns.

The hidden plan

Then there are those who have spent considerable time and/or money writing a detailed, polished and professional-looking plan… then filed it carefully away and forgotten all about it for a year. The best plans are useless if you don’t do what’s in them.

I would guess that most businesses fall somewhere into one or more of these 3 categories. But there are a few businesses that have a marketing plan that works.

The REAL marketing plan

The real marketing plan is based on the following principles:

  1. The plan works if you work it. You actually have to do what’s in the plan – that means schedule who, when and how it will happen.
  2. A real marketing plan is a working document. It’s constantly evolving and therefore you should come back to it regularly.
  3. An effective marketing plan is a signpost to keep you on track. If you have scheduled in your marketing activities, and have some simple but specific, goal-based evaluation in place, coming back to your plan regularly you should be able to stay on target.
  4. The best marketing plans are simple. You will have identified just a few key tactics, on just a few media platforms, to focus on doing really well.
  5. The only way a marketing plan can work is if you’ve fine-tuned your target market and brand messages. The tactics you choose should be determined by an overarching strategy aimed at saying the right things to the right people.

For me, using a basic, traditional marketing template that I update every quarter is the most effective planning tool. I use this time-tested plan with my clients as well as in my own business. Whatever template you choose to use, think about what are the most important elements to include (such as audience and key messages based on them), and ensure you follow the 5 principles above.

All the best for the business year ahead!

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