It’s no secret that I’m a complete geek for anything marketing, design, or advertising. Even I can admit that the idea of a marketing plan is one of the least exciting conversations we have in business- maybe second to tax planning or insurance.
After years of working with small businesses and entrepreneurs, I see how necessary marketing plans really are. Without a marketing plan, you can fall into some poor decisions such as:
- Spending too much
- Not spending enough to reach your audience
- Not clearly presenting an offer or call to action
- Neglecting to add an element of urgency
- Using platforms that don’t align with your target audience
- Use messaging that isn’t appropriate for your audience or the platform
Besides those potential mistakes, without a clear plan, clear goals, and a way to measure your marketing effectiveness, how will you ever know if it’s working? You might think, “if my marketing was working I’m be selling more.” Unfortunately, that doesn’t tell the whole story of what is going on in your business.
There are other issues in your business that can impact sales such as broken technology, staff mishandling sales leads, incorrectly priced products or services, or a reputation problem. All of these could be sabotaging your sales in some way. It’s easy to blame marketing, especially because it an expense that varies, but that might not be the problem.
With a solid marketing plan, you can choose a metric to measure the success of your plan that is more appropriate and accurate. Such as phone calls, website leads, chat conversations, or clicks through to your website.
You really can’t say your marketing isn’t working if you don’t have an accurate benchmark to measure it by.
I also come across business owners who avoid the whole idea of marketing planning in their business because it’s overwhelming. And many outsource it- which is great if you can afford it- but you have to have some knowledge of the basics and foundations of marketing to know if your third party marketing agency is working well for you.
Could you be avoiding marketing planning because you’ve been successful in the past and you love your tried and true methods? It’s absolutely okay to stick with ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’ mentality. If we learned anything this year it’s that adaptability wins. Knowing why your past marketing works will help you make better choices going forward.
Keep in mind, we only see the highlights of our competitors and the brands we follow- we don’t know everything they are doing unless they are very transparent with you. I encourage you to have an open conversation with your professional network about what is working for them and why. Then take that insight and apply it to your own plan.
Are you proactive vs reactive when it comes to marketing? For example- Do you plan before the holiday season? Do you have a plan for sales downturns? Do you hope that the momentum of past success will carry you through or do you have a plan to create new interest and attention?
It’s hard to learn new things and admit we need help. The first step to improving is to figure out what when wrong in the past and learn from there.