As an entrepreneur, chances are that you’re so involved in actually running your business from day to day that you don’t often have the time to take a step back and think about the marketing direction of your business.
This is the case for many entrepreneurs, and as a result, their marketing activities tend to be ad hoc, and often not particularly strategic. If this describes you, you may actually be wasting valuable money on bits of marketing that don’t really make the most impact possible because they don’t fit into your business strategy.
When you do makeshift marketing, there’s no way to measure the impact you’re having or ensure that all the different elements tie in together and cover all your bases. It’s often said that 90% of your marketing activity will not pay off immediately because marketing is very much a process and is cumulative.
If you don’t start out strategically and then build on to what you’ve done, you won’t build momentum and get the most return on your investment.
This is why taking the time to develop a marketing plan is crucial in ensuring your marketing efforts are relevant, make the maximum impact and deliver the best possible return on investment.
You should develop a marketing plan for the following reasons:
- Bird’s eye view. It forces you to take a step back to have a look at your operating environment and competitive landscape. The rate of change is so rapid in the modern work environment that you need to constantly re-evaluate your products and services, your target market and your marketing initiatives to ensure you remain relevant. More and more, it’s the slight changes in legislation and economic factors of the competitive landscape that open up new opportunities for your business.
- Your differentiator. It forces you to really assess what makes you distinctive and gives you a competitive advantage. Often we take our perceived competitive advantage for granted, but by looking strategically at your market, you are forced to determine whether you actually have a competitive advantage that is distinctive and really makes you stand out, or whether your competitors are outdoing you in terms of innovation.
- Deliverables. It makes you articulate what you want your marketing to deliver. There is no doubt that when you put down in writing what you want to achieve, there is a stronger drive to achieve it. You instill a sense of accountability to your goals and you are forced to look at what the key marketing activities are that you need in place to achieve those objectives, as well as how to roll them out.
- Maximum resource management. Marketing costs money and it takes time, so to ensure that you are utilising your resources in the best possible way, you should identify the key activities that you can undertake that offer the maximum impact, and discard everything else. So often from a marketing perspective, we try to do far too much. Rather focus on doing less, but ensure it is the best you can possibly do.
- Stay on track. Developing a marketing plan ensures that you not only put key marketing measures in place, but it also allows you to measure them religiously to make sure that you remain on track.