Entrepreneurship, value creation and faith
Companies have amazing marketing tools at their disposal these days. Just ten years ago no one had heard of social media and blogs were popular only among the internet elite.
The great thing about all the tools we have these days is they make it easy to communicate. Whereas it used to take six months to create, print and distribute your general brochure, you can now open Twitter or Facebook and start interacting with your customers immediately. The same goes for your corporate blog, email blasts, banner ads and search engine optimization: they are all quick and easy to do.
But, beware. When it’s easy to talk to your target market it’s just as easy to forego a strategic marketing plan.
The following are seven reasons you should have a marketing plan.
1. A plan keeps your marketing efforts aligned with corporate goals and objectives
It’s easy to be busy. Companies have fewer people doing more work and the digital world has made it so that there’s no shortage of things to do. With so many activities your organization can engage in the trick is to know which ones make sense. A sound marketing plan will help you determine what should be done and what should be ignored. This will keep your team focused on work that matters—work that accomplishes your company’s goals and objectives.
2. A plan keeps your marketing efforts proactive
These days change is the only constant. With change comes the temptation to react every time there’s a new technology, new marketing platform or a new opportunity. When you’re constantly reacting to outside forces you’re not in control, but rather being pushed and pulled in a multitude of directions. A plan will protect your organization against that trap. A plan will define your strategies, it will create the path to executing those strategies and will define the things you need to do to win. This keeps you on the offensive and protects you from becoming reactive.
3. A sound plan makes it easy to evaluate new opportunities
Since we know the world around us is always changing (see #2) we can assume that new opportunities will present themselves from time to time. It might be as simple as a new advertising vehicle or as big as a new market sector that’s opening. How do you know if these opportunities are good for you? A plan will prove priceless in these circumstances as it will give you the criteria to evaluate them and determine if they make sense for your company.
4. A plan gets your whole organization on the same page
Many organizations suffer from a lack of unity. Everyone has different goals and objectives and everyone has an opinion on what the company should do and how it should do it. A sound plan will help get your people in agreement on your problems, challenges, goals, objectives, strategies and tactics, ultimately getting everyone aligned and contributing.
5. A plan helps you to keep sight of the big picture
A lot of the tactics we engage in these days tend to be very specialized and focus on the small picture. Twitter, for example, is a micro-exchange between you and your audience, 140 characters at a time. It’s a powerful tool, but one that’s very much about the moment. A good plan will help you and your company keep sight of the big picture so you don’t get lost in the weeds and you don’t miss out on opportunities.
6. A plan gives you confidence
Every company goes through cycles and that includes descending into the trough of despair. When you’re doing all you can and it seems like nothing is working, a good plan will guide you through. It will confirm your direction, provide insight into your situation and remind you of where you’re heading. Tactical things like social media alone can’t do that for you because they are granular and in the moment. Only a sound plan can give you confidence to stay the course when times get tough.
7. A marketing plan facilitates measurement
A plan gives you a framework to measure your efforts. One of the great things about all the newer tactics we have at our disposal is they are easily measurable. We can see web site traffic, banner ad clicks, number of followers and email click-throughs. But, all that data on its own does not mean a whole lot. A plan gives you the ability to evaluate all the data and determine if your efforts are moving you towards your corporate goals.
There are many more reasons to develop a marketing plan in addition to the ones I’ve listed here. The value of a sound plan far outweighs any investment you make to create one and the benefits will last for years. If you don’t have a strategic marketing plan, I highly suggest you develop one.