It’s tempting to try to run your business without a plan. It may seem like you can just get up each day and do what you want to do and the business will be successful. While that sometimes does happen, it’s not likely. Don’t let these seemingly viral overnight sensations fool you!
The main reason most businesses fail is due to lack of a plan and lack of follow through. It doesn’t matter how large or small your business is; you really do need a plan.
If you really want to have a successful business, then you will need to go through the effort to create a marketing plan.
Yes, You Do Really Need a Marketing Plan
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Of course, wingin it can get you results. But do you really want to wing it with your business? Do you want to leave your revenue to chance? Of course not! Leaving your revenue to chance is not a safe or wise plan. Whether you are a solopreneur or you’re managing a team, you need to be able to see progress, forecast projections, and build your income. Why? Because this will give you the motivation to keep going.
Your marketing plan is a living breathing document. It is not meant to be created and ignored. It can be updated as the business changes and your needs evolve. It should be used as a blueprint, so that you never have to ask, what am I supposed to be doing? when it comes to your marketing activities.
If you are still not convinced, here are a few benefits of using a marketing plan.
While doing the research for your marketing plan, you’ll answer a lot of questions that will help you in your business. You’ll get to know your audience, understand the different marketing methods, and purposes, how much to spend on marketing, where to invest time and effort, and more.
Assist with Decision Making
The facts you uncover with the research that you do will help you make good decisions about your business on a daily basis. Without the plan you won’t be able to make good choices easily.
Help You Create Goals
The plan will automatically help you define the goals for your business and the marketing that you do for your business. There are different goals at each stage of the business, and each stage requires a different kind of marketing. Hint: make money is not the only goal 🙂
Identify your Unique Selling Proposition
Your unique selling proposition (USP), is what makes you different than the competition. For example, are you a better value for the price? Do you offer a higher quality of service compared to the competition? Does your product save me time, make my life easier in some way? As you can likely guess, discovering your USP will inform all future marketing efforts.
Help Set Budgets
While creating the marketing plan you will also be able to determine a budget for your marketing efforts. Here’s the thing with a marketing budget: EVERY company needs one. There are an endless number of ways to spend this budget. But you need to define a marketing budget for things like ads, associations, tools, promotional items, comps, etc. Your marketing plan will help you to figure out how much you have to spend, and where it should go.
Define the Market
The research that you do will also help you define the market so that you can figure out where you fit in. Hint: EVERYONE is not a market, even if you think everyone can benefit from your product or service. Any marketer will explain that you need to identify a specific market so that you can speak to them in all of your marketing efforts.
Assess the Competition
As you create the marketing plan, it will give you the opportunity to get to know your competition. When you do that, you can identify gaps in your products and/or services and fill them. Understanding your competition will help you to figure out how to market your own products and services, the platforms to use, and the language to use in your copywriting.
Help You Stay the Course
The marketing plan that you make will keep you on the road toward success. When it comes to marketing, you need a road map to keep you focused. Otherwise, the next shiny object will grab your attention and divert you from your goals. There is always something new in marketing to try, but you don’t want to be so busy trying new ideas that you lose focus.
Help You Build A Team
Once you have a marketing plan in place, you can build a team to help you bring your vision to life. You can outsource elements of your marketing, and go back to what it is you do best. Because you have a plan, you can guide your team members in the right direction. Without a plan, your team will not know what your expectations are, what to do, or how to measure results. Which means you’re setting your team up for failure from the onset.
If you think you can do all that without a marketing plan and get anywhere in your business within a reasonable amount of time while making a profit, you are likely to be wrong. If you want some direction, want to know what you’re doing and where you’re going, and how to get there, then make a marketing plan.
This is something I find myself repeating over and over again as a Marketing Strategist & Social Media Manager. Oftentimes, solopreneurs are quick to want to post on social media. However, they have nary a plan in place. If there is no plan, there is likely a vague understanding of what to post, why to post or who the desired audience is. And that’s just for starters! Which means the ROI from posting on social media will be dismal at best.
A successful long-term business needs a marketing plan, even if it’s just one page long. Writing out the steps you plan to take, and how you plan to take them when marketing your business will not always ensure success – but not doing so will likely result in wasted time and money.