As a small business owner, it’s very unlikely you got into business specifically because you love to do marketing. Marketing professionals love to do marketing. But you’re a business owner and your passions lie within what your business does. However, marketing—and specifically, having a PLAN for your marketing—is important for the success of your business both now and over time. Here are ten reasons why you need a plan.
And don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! With 6 Sample Marketing Plans
Why You Need a Marketing Plan
As much as you want to keep procrastinating, a marketing plan is a must for your business. Here are ten truths that will motivate you to put some structure around your business growth asap.
1. It forces you to think.
The act of physically composing a marketing plan forces you to formulate and articulate your thinking about your customers, your product, and how you bring those two things together. Explicitly thinking about these things is important. Talking about them with the other members of your team, particularly the team members who will be carrying out the plan, is crucial.
2. A plan creates a set of measurable goals.
Far too often, small businesses settle for “sell more next year than last year” and “don’t go broke” as metrics for gauging their success. Measurable goals create tangible targets for you and your people to work towards. Tangible targets increase performance far more than nebulous “just don’t fail” hopes.
Related: Marketing Goals Pocket Guide
3. It motivates your organization.
The human brain is outstanding at taking purely arbitrary goals and making them super important. This can be problematic, but it can also work for you. People will literally go the extra mile to get that last sale if “Make ten sales per week” is their goal, because the pleasure we get from achieving the goal makes it worth it—even when we set the goal ourselves.
4. A plan helps you organize your time and your priorities.
Reality check: you only have so many hours in the day, and only so many of those hours are tasked to marketing functions. You either prioritize and do the important things first, or you flail. Flailing is not a success strategy; having a plan shows you on a daily basis which marketing actions are in accordance with your plan and thus high on your priority list.
5. It can get you money.
A marketing plan is a core, non-negotiable part of a business plan. If you’re going to be going to investors at some point in the immediate or near future, then you’re going to have to have a marketing plan in any event. You might as well start working on it now, so that the plan you actually present to your venture capitalists has actually been hammered on in the forge of experience. They’ll be able to tell, and that will make a difference.
6. A plan puts everybody on the same page.
The importance of consistency in marketing cannot be overemphasized. When you have a marketing plan, then everyone on your team knows what the plan is. It’s not just a set of concepts in your brain or hidden in a secret memo. Letting everyone know what the plan is makes it possible for everyone to follow the plan.
7. You’ll spend your money more wisely.
Like your time, your marketing budget is finite. Deciding what your priorities are in advance lets you husband your resources accordingly, instead of spending when it seems like a good idea. In addition, having a plan means that when a great deal or new strategy comes onto the scene, you can immediately know whether it’s worth pursuing.
8. You’ll be proactive and not reactive.
Reactivity is a besetting problem for small businesses, because we often simply don’t have the resources to anticipate everything days or weeks in advance. That can be a strength, because small business tends to be very flexible and able to handle shifting conditions quickly, but it also makes carrying out a disciplined course of action more difficult. Having a written plan gives you the ability to know what your reaction to things ought to be *in advance*, which lets you preposition your response when you see things coming.
9. It provides a reality check between your overall objectives and your marketing strategy.
There are a lot of different objectives your business might be pursuing. Maybe you want to be the industry leader in your field, maybe you want to have the highest growth rate, maybe you want to have the best-compensated employee base. Whatever your objectives are, your company’s marketing is what’s going to finance them.
Those two components of your overall strategy have to be in sync. Without a plan, it’s very easy to convince yourself that your overall objectives are being worked on, when in fact you may be getting further away from them every quarter. A written marketing plan ensures that there’s coordination between these potentially conflicting elements of your overall strategy.
10. You’ll provide better customer service.
When you know what your marketing plan is, that means you know how you want to serve your customers. It’s almost impossible to do a good job of something that you’re uncertain of how to do; only when you have a target in mind does hitting that target become more than a matter of pure luck.