Marketing Planning is too important to leave to the marketers!
I hear it all the time ‘Why do I need a marketing Plan?’ or ‘We are too small to spend time planning our marketing sure it’s only for big companies!’. Wrong: marketing planning is for companies of any size who are serious about building their business, their brand and making money.
Let’s start with talking about what is Marketing? Simply put: It is a matching process between on one side what the market needs and on the other what a company can supply or deliver (it’s capability) with the goal of delivering a profitable competitive advantage. The other way of looking at it is how can you attract potential customers to consider what you are offering and to get them to buy from you while creating some form of competitive advantage.
As Peter Drucker, the Father of business consulting said: “The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer” he also very wisely said “Marketing is not a function, it is the whole business as seen from the customer’s point of view.”
Bottom line is that without attracting customers a business will not survive. And to attract customers you need to understand the process of marketing and marketing planning along with the benefits it can and will deliver for a business.
Marketing planning should be a logical sequence of decisions and actions, helping a business develop products and services that meet the needs of a target market. The actual marketing plan is the driver of the business which will help a business grow or die! It’s objective is to turn strategy into tactics, bridging the gap between ambitions and actions.
To kick off any planning process you need to know the desired result: what exactly do you want to achieve, is the objective to launch a new product or service, generate new leads, increase sales, build brand awareness. You need to set specific and measurable goals that inevitably will be a sales number you want to achieve. Simple, well not really, many business owners start spending money without a thought on what they want to achieve so they end up with no means to measure if the marketing was a success and delivered an acceptable return on their investment (ROI).
A key fundamental to any marketing planning process is research and planning. Starting with market exploration: is there a gap in the market or put it another way: is there a market in the gap? And if so what is the market size and how much of the market are you looking for.
Who are the competitors, what are their strengths and weaknesses, what areas of the market are they not fulfilling, how will you compete against them in terms of quality, service offering, value, performance, reliability, innovation, convenience, location, price, delivery, brand, packaging, promotion, advertising and messaging.
You need to clearly define your target market. Who exactly will be buying your products or services, what are their needs and wants, how are they currently fulfilling those needs and why should they think about buying your products or services. What are their buying behaviours, interests, demographics, likes, dislikes. The research process is a time to listen and learn with the goal of making a better commercial decision leading to a more successful and profitable outcome.
How are you going to reach out to your target audience, what marketing channels are you going to use: traditional off-line advertising, trade shows, events, promotional offers or online campaigns such as Facebook advertising and social media?
By planning your marketing it will help the day to day running of the business allowing you to allocate resources and budget, focusing effort, improving products, launching new offerings, motivating your team, rewarding performance, increasing brand awareness, evolving and building your business.
How long should the marketing plan be? Well no one has the time to spend reading War and Peace! Write it so it will be read and used and not placed in the bottom drawer or on the top shelf in your office gathering dust. It should be as long or as short to be effective – why not aim to get it down on just one page – here is an link to the Get 2 Growth One Page Marketing plan site – worth checking it out.