Guest Blog By Judith Hutchinson
So many businesses think they can just ‘wing it’ when it comes to a marketing plan and this is in part because they are not quite sure of what’s involved. It’s not just about where or how you promote your business – there’s a whole other bunch of useful stuff that you might be missing out on. Here are five reasons why your business needs one:
1. Research can be revealing (and save you money!)
Any marketing plan involves some kind of research (and it doesn’t necessarily have to cost you anything). Generally this is on three different levels;
The external environment which is stuff you can’t control like a new government coming into power, changes in the law, weather etc. This list will depend on the business you operate.
The internal environment is stuff you can control and you tend to look at a SWOT analysis for this (Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). I always suggest that you ask your customers what they think about what you’re doing. I had one client recently who really benefited from customer research. The company discovered that not all of their customers knew about all of their products. Immediately we realised that to achieve their goals much of the marketing activity could concentrate on cross selling rather than having to spend more time and money winning new customers.
In addition, you should also keep a check on what the competition are up to and how they are positioning themselves. If nothing else this section often provides owner managers with a bit of Oomph and motivation to excel! And of course we cannot forget our target market research!
2. So you know what you’re supposed to be doing!
A good marketing plan will look at the 4Ps – at least! (there are more Ps). These are Product, Price, Place and Promotion. You should have a strategy for each. Answering these questions and more:
– Which are your more profitable products? do you have loss leaders?
– How will your pricing align with your brand? – if you are a luxury brand don’t be charging aldi prices! Do you have different strategies for different seasons?
– What are your distributions channels? – shop, website, pop up, affiliates, events – to name a few. What others are appropriate?
– Promotion – are you using push and/or pull marketing strategies (this is where lots of businesses focus without putting in the other ground work). Are there better strategies you could be using that will mean you are spending less on your promotional activity and achieving more?
All of the above will have been looked at with your business goals in mind so you have mini strategies for each leaving you clear on what you are doing.
3. Gives you focus
Aside from giving you a focus on what’s important and what you need to be doing, if you share your marketing plan with your team it enables them to focus on what’s important and become more empowered to make decisions that help achieve your objectives.
4. So you don’t waste money!
There’s that famous quote from John Wanamaker “Half my marketing dollars are wasted but I don’t know which half”. Considering he died in 1922 I will let him off. Businesses today have no excuse. The advent of digital marketing makes it easier to measure what is and isn’t working.
What’s the point in spending money on marketing activities that don’t work? I encourage all my clients to monitor what they are doing and ensure that whatever it is makes a difference. Recently a client saved 5 figures by cutting out a load of advertising that wasn’t working and allocating some of this money to improving their website.
5. Increase your chances of success
Ultimately if you have a decent marketing plan in place then there is a much better chance of your business achieving its goals. I will leave you with this quote from Peter Drucker
“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two – and only two – basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”
For those businesses with a marketing plan I would be interested to hear if you have anything to add to this list?
About the Author
Judith is a Chartered Marketer and helps businesses with their marketing strategies via her training workshops and 1-2-1 coaching. She also works as a Virtual Marketing Department for some clients. Since 2008 she has helped over 150 businesses to improve via their marketing activities.