In this article, we wanted to cover what a marketing plan should look like and what it is not.
Recently, I visited with an owner of a small software provider who is looking for ways to increase leads at his respective business. We began to discuss his goals and vision for the company and embarked on a conversation with regards to execution and planning by his organization thus far during his tenure.
I simply asked “where is your marketing plan”? And, I received a spreadsheet with some events and trade shows displayed on it. That was the extent of the “plan”.
I was not shocked. In fact, I knew the answer before I had even asked. Most small businesses today do not work off a fluid and dynamic marketing plan. In most cases, the “marketing plan” in the minds of many small business owners is the “business plan”. Which to be clear, are two very distinct and different items all together.
With that interaction firmly in my mind, I wanted to discuss what a “marketing plan” is and is not. First, let me tackle some of the items which it is not:
- A marketing plan is not a spreadsheet of activities
- A marketing plan is not an editorial calendar with pretty colors and trade shows listed
- A marketing plan is not one campaign for emails, outbound calling, or blog content to be produced
- A marketing plan is not just the amount of $ you have to spend on marketing for the year
- A marketing plan is not, I repeat, not, something you conjured up one weekend to execute the following week
- A marketing plan is not your business plan
According to Entrepreneur Magazine, a marketing plan, is the written document that describes your advertising and marketing efforts for the coming year; it includes a statement of the marketing situation, a discussion of target markets and company positioning and a description of the marketing mix you intend to use to reach your marketing goals.
Here are four critical topics that should be covered in your marketing plan before you embark with any specific marketing activities in the next year:
1. Situation Analysis
- What are your assets? Focus on People, Technology, Dollars.
- What does the market space look like?
- What strengths does your team have now at this very moment?
- Competitive environment?
2. Marketing Strategy
- What is your business vision and mission?
- What are you business objectives at this time?
- What is your value proposition today?
3. Craft your marketing program
- What is your Product Messaging?
- Should you review or alter your pricing strategy?
- What communication channels have you used? Should you explore?
- How about some fresh and new promotion activities?
4. Determine your Controls, Measure of Success, & KPI’s
- What kind of budget do you have this year? Increase it!
- How will you know you have achieved? Name your Success Factors.
- How will measure your KPI’s? Top of the Funnel, MOF, BOF? Conversions? Sales?
- Is this the year for a Marketing Automation help to help enable the mission
The Marketing plan should not be viewed as a “one and done” event. Rather, the Marketing plan should be kept front and center. We encourage clients to pull it out at least monthly but at the very least at your quarterly meetings. I would be remiss if I did not state that this shouldn’t be devised and implemented in a vacuum.
If you are a small organization where there is one “sales and marketing” person, you will have your work cut out for you. You must enlist the entire team (consultants, developers, executives) etc. in this effort. Otherwise, it’s your plan. And, your plan will mean nothing unless it’s shared with the rest of the organization.
Using the plan in a positive ways will provide “Cheering” material for everyone to “Rally” behind. In other words, fire the team up with what everyone has accomplished and what’s left to do.
Certainly, after you secure that first small business loan. Marketing plans are not required. However, they should be mandatory to ensure that you will have a viable business long term.
If you would like to discuss your current plan or would like to discuss best practices for preparing one, please give us a call.
Until then, keep SmartThoughts in mind.