Why Your Business Definitely CAN’T do Without a Marketing Plan
May 2nd 2016 | By Steve Grant
Do you have a marketing plan? Or do you tend more to work on an ‘as it happens’ basis, trying different ideas as they come to mind?
If it is the latter, you may well find that you are regularly wasting money on initiatives that don’t bear fruit. Have you thought about why this is?
The simple answer is that time is not being invested in making sure these initiatives are right for your audience and that they fall in line with your objectives. Because you do have objectives, right?
Hopefully you said yes, of course. Otherwise you really are going to be fumbling in the dark. Without goals – an idea of where you want to be within a set timescale – you are never going to get to the next stage, and you certainly won’t be able to measure the efficacy of what you are doing, and whether you are achieving a return on your investment.
The importance of a marketing plan
A marketing plan is so important. It helps you focus. It helps you work out your best target audiences, and how to approach them.
If you are simply putting your services or products out to a blanket audience without a strategy and measuring process, how can you tell if what you are doing is profitable? What if you realised you were spending 90 per cent of your time and marketing budget pulling in just 10 per cent of your sales, when with some thought and planning, you could actually be reversing that and getting 90 per cent of your sales for just 10 per cent of your time? It certainly makes you think.
What goes into a marketing plan?
Objectives: The key ingredient in any marketing plan is the objectives. These are your drivers. You don’t head out in a car or on a train not knowing where you’re going: if you did you’d be travelling around aimlessly in circles. With a set of goals you can focus on where you need to be, and how you will get there: in other words, how you will boost sales.
Your goals might include attaining a certain number of new customers so as to increase revenue to a certain level. You may wish to boost customer retention, so that you keep a higher number of existing customers and therefore save money on attaining new ones. You may wish to boost profits whilst keeping sales levels constant and in line with your current operating capabilities. Your goals will be individual to your business.
Methods: The methods to achieve these goals will also vary. They could include a variety of initiatives. For example, if you want to attain new customers, you may look at expanding into new markets, or boosting presence in an existing and proven audience sector. If you want to keep more existing customers and enhance what you earn from them, you could look at improving service levels, introducing loyalty incentives and / or starting a cross-selling programme. And if you are seeking to boost profits from existing business, you will want to think about re-packaging, re-pricing and re-considering your key target audiences.
When you take time to plan a marketing strategy, you can start to analyse the finer detail. For example, what are your marketing messages? Are your company values properly coming through in your communications? Are you addressing your audience in the appropriate manner, through the right mediums and at the right times?
To be successful, you need to fully understand your customers, their needs and their buying habits, and compiling a marketing plan prompts you to make sure you do. You may need to conduct customer surveys, or start analysing the data you already have. This understanding will prevent you from wasting money on targeting unprofitable or time wasting leads.
Deadlines and measurement: So we have our objectives and methods. You will also need a timeline so that you have deadlines for your goals. And then lastly, a marketing plan will need to include steps to measure the success of your efforts. You need to regularly review what is working and what is not, so that you can make informed changes to your plan and re-set goals if necessary.
So now you know why it is vital you have a marketing plan, and what needs to go into one. In a future post we are going to go into more detail on how to create a digital marketing plan, so look out for that. In the meantime, if you could use some help in putting together a general marketing strategy for your business, please get in touch.