Do I need a marketing plan?

 approx 7 minute read

A marketing plan is a strategic map intended to structure the way a business organises, executes and tracks its marketing activities. A marketing plan is an essential guide tailored to the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities of any given business. Promoting and growing your business are the overall objectives of any good marketing plan, and they can help you to understand the impact of your marketing activities from the very beginning of their implementation.

A solid marketing plan requires thought, research, and an in-depth understanding of the marketplace and your target market to ensure effort that is put into the strategy produces worthy results. As a business owner or marketing manager, you want to make sure your marketing budget is doing the most work possible. Without a strong and comprehensive marketing plan, companies can often end up shooting in the dark and attempting many different tactics without any real structure; only to be left with little success.

6 Benefits to Having a Marketing Plan

1. Coordinate marketing actions with desired outcomes

When deciding on the goals of your business, one of the most important aspects of a successful plan is clarity. Be as precise and specific with the objectives of the business plan as possible to avoid getting caught up in an irresolute set of goals that don’t each have a chain of planning and actions.

Without an exact target, you can’t know exactly what each planned activity is supposed to achieve. Focus on what the main goals are for the business. Strive to make them as realistic as possible and create a plan that can tangibly achieve these goals.

2. Create consistency and accountability

Marketing teams vary in size, capacity and dynamic. Sometimes a company’s marketing is handled solely by one person, and some companies may not have any employees dedicated to marketing at all. On the other hand, there are companies with huge marketing departments – and huge budgets.

Either way, all marketing teams are working towards the same goals and all members are working from the same instructions to achieve one common result. Without a plan, the efforts can become disjointed and ineffective. Use a plan to divide efforts of a larger marketing team in an impactful way into subsections such as social media, print, and email marketing, for example.

3. Cost efficiency

All businesses have a set marketing budget, and if they don’t they absolutely should. Create a plan to allow your business to prioritise what brings in the best results, and place importance on activities that can’t be neglected. This allows for new or riskier ideas to be factored into a plan.

Plan and budget accordingly in order to clearly see the results of your inputs and measure successes against cost. Use previous marketing plans to create new ones; comparison is key. Consider what works, what is reliably attracting income and what might be worth adding to the marketing mix. With no plan, there can’t be effective budgeting, and money can end up being spent on dead ends.

4. Contribute to a motivated and proactive team

Coordinate a plan to force proactivity and continuous creative thinking. Without a plan, efforts can often be reactive to problems as they occur instead of active improvements and suggestions.

Plans can also create urgency. Give deadlines and expectations to yourself and your team, such as 5 new ideas every week. Once a sturdy plan is put in place, there is less time spent brainstorming and considering options, and more time spent implementing a plan that has been carefully curated already.

5. Allow results to be measured against actions

Most businesses have multiple objectives, some of which may not necessarily be connected There can be ambiguity around what approaches to take without a clear guide that has been crafted based on precedence.

A plan serves as a benchmark or a target; it allows for a team to compare results of certain campaigns to the effort, time and budget that went into that activity. This information is priceless and will continue to become more helpful the longer they are executed and analysed. Monitor your marketing plan against the goals that were established from the start, and make sure the plan doesn’t veer away from those original goals.

6. Make a better business for your existing customers

Marketing isn’t always about customer acquisition and profit. Making a powerful marketing plan can also provide valuable insight in how to nurture current client relationships.

Understand what your target marketing demands from your marketing activities, and remember that you cannot fix what you don’t understand. Include customer communication in your marketing efforts to ensure that you’re cross-selling and upselling to clients that have already been won. Building trust and obtaining loyalty is crucial to creating and upkeeping a great brand image.

So now I know what a Marketing Plan is, but do I need one?

The answer is yes. Regardless of the size or nature of your business, you will need to conduct some variation of marketing; no matter how small. Plan your marketing activities to not only increase the effectiveness of them, but also to allow you to delegate to employees and manage budget.

The difference between major corporate marketing strategies and small business marketing is really only budget, capacity and manpower. Marketing plans change drastically as a business grow, and everywhere starts small. Understanding your realistic capabilities alongside your expectations is crucial to being clever with your investments.

The internet and social media has made it more possible for smaller businesses to compete in the marketing space, and budget is no longer a reason to not have reachable and maintainable goals. Depending on the capacity and in-house capabilities of a business, marketing activities can be outsourced or placed upon one person or a small team.

How to Carry Out a Successful Marketing Plan:

1. Curate all the necessary research

Conduct research on your target market and make sure you fully understand the marketplace in order to make your plan as impactful as possible.

2. Conduct a S.W.O.T. analysis

Analyse your business with its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in mind. Consider this like your marketing audit, you are trying to understand where you are now in the marketplace, where you want to be, and this will provide you with some clarity on what you need to do to get there. Use this free Nettl PDF to create your own S.W.O.T. analysis!

Editable PDF with sections for Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats Marketing SWOT

3. Clearly establish a list of goals

Your research will hopefully lead you to a clear understanding of what you want to achieve. Be realistic about these goals, as some may have smaller goals within a larger objective.

Once you know what you want to achieve, decide what kind of timeframe you can tangibly maintain these goals in. Divide up your goals into the time they will take, some objectives will be long term results that will be ongoing for years at a time. There will also be marketing activities that can be executed and achieved in days or weeks.

4. Consider a budget that aligns with expectations

Now you know what you want to achieve, decide how much monetary input you can allow towards reaching these goals.

Consider extra costs to make sure you don’t stretch your budget too thin, or you could end up pouring money into an action that never comes to its intended fruition. Being reasonable will make sure that you prioritise what is most important in getting the desired results.

5. Create an executive business summary

Your executive business summary needs to be written last to capture all of the actions taken thus far in curating a marketing plan that is built for success.

The executive business summary then go at the beginning of your marketing plan to synopsise the entirety of the roadmap.

Nettl Studios offer free consultations on marketing services to decipher what marketing mix would best suit your company and make the most out of your resources. Take action on a marketing plan now, no matter how small; they all started somewhere!