Start with a plan!
Whether you’re preparing for a giant project with the due date closing in, or planning for opportunities years away from the whiteboard, we’ve got the hands on experience to implement tactics that achieve success.
Why have a (realistic) marketing plan?
A marketing plan makes sense of your business environment
When developing your marketing strategy, take into account your customers, competitors, and all the factors that could hinder your ability to operate effectively in the marketplace. The likelihood is that these will be a complex mix, becoming more so as you look into the future. Some aspects will be more important than others, and the process of developing a marketing plan will help you decide where you should place your priorities.
A marketing plan enables clear decision making
Having determined what factors will affect your business, and auditing what resources you have within your business to deal with them, you’re ready to make the decisions necessary to move forward. Are your products really meeting your customers’ needs, or should you be developing new products? Are your prices right for your market? Do you need extra staff or should you outsource some services? Do you need a PR campaign, and advertising campaign, a direct mail campaign…? The questions you would usually consider in an ad hoc manner (if at all) suddenly become much easier in the context of a marketing plan with clear objectives, timescales and budget.
A marketing plan integrates long term planning and short term implementation
Your strategic marketing plan won’t be cast in stone. You should revisit it regularly – how frequently will depend on the nature of your business and the extent to which the factors affecting it change – and make sure it remains relevant to the marketing environment in which you operate. At a more detailed, tactical level your annual plan will dovetail with your strategic plan, ensuring that every action you take is geared towards achieving your strategic goals.
A marketing plan prevents panic decisions
A forward looking marketing plan will give you as clear a view as possible of what is going on in the market place, as well as provide a framework in which to make any decisions to deviate from your plan. There will be occasions when you want to change course – for sound business purposes. But the framework that the plan provides will mean that you will not be taken by surprise by market developments, nor will you be pushed this way and that by unexpected pressures.
A marketing plan is a working document
A regular review of your plan to ensure that you are following it, and to check that what you are following has not been rendered redundant by market changes, is essential. But that doesn’t mean that your plan should only be dusted off at annual review time. As a working document, you should refer to it whenever you have a marketing decision to make and amend it whenever you identify a shift in your market.
In truth, it’s unlikely that any business makes a conscious choice NOT to have a marketing plan. But this list should illustrate the benefits of making marketing planning an integral part of the way you do business.