You hear a lot these days about how you need to stay agile and flexible in your marketing, what with all the technological advances, social media, yada yada.
Well, that’s true. But it’s also true that you should have an actual Marketing Plan, providing you really do want to be successful, want to know where you are going and how you are going to get there.
A business with no marketing plan is like a ship at sea with no one at the helm. Every little shift in currents or wind direction and the ship veers further and further off course, or just meanders about aimlessly until it finally runs aground.
That’s no way to operate a ship or run a business!
Good marketing plans require a goal or objective, and a solid strategy for achieving that goal or objective.
Coming up with a good marketing strategy requires some homework. You really have to understand the environment you are operating in, the technological advances, your industry, who your competitors are, who your target market(s) is – what the individuals or companies in that target market want, need or demand, the size of that market, it’s potential, etc., your available resources, tools, and so on.
If you truly LOOK – don’t just think, but actually LOOK – and do your market research and homework, you will be able to come up with a viable overarching strategic plan, the bright idea you will use to reach your objective.
From there, you plot out your tactical maneuvers that will get the strategic plan implemented in bite-size increments, and start implementing them.
As new data come in or more opportunities arise, you can tweak your tactical elements to accommodate them, without veering off from your well-researched strategic plan designed to meet your goal.
As you continue toward your goal, you may discover or realize that you could achieve even a higher, better goal. At that point, you would craft an improved strategic plan that encompasses the new developments. And, again, plot out the tactical maneuvers that once fully implemented, fulfill the strategy and attain your objective.
For example: A company has a goal to capture a certain percentage of the business in a given market. Along come the social media networks. WOW. The people running this business realize that social media marketing needs to be part of their strategic and tactical planning. They don’t just veer off in a new direction, they incorporate these media into their strategic and tactical planning and use them to further their progress toward the business’s goal.
Meanwhile they continue observing their industry, their competitors, new developments or advances in their industry and adjust their plans accordingly. But they always have a plan they are following. You’ve probably heard the saying, “any plan is better than no plan.” That’s true as far as it goes. But, of course, it’s much better to have a well-researched, sound plan to guide you toward your goals and objectives.
There are several elements that have to be included in a good marketing plan, and perhaps we will address that in some future blogs.
How to Obtain Financing for Your Small Business
If you need to obtain financing for your small business (under 500 employees), you better have a well laid out marketing plan to show your banker or investors.
Several years ago, I crafted a marketing plan for a small company I was a part of, that needed to obtain financing.
They did a good business, but several of their large customers paid on a 90-day basis, and the company needed the ability to smooth out its cash flows.
So I did the homework and research, laid out the plan, and decided that with the finalized marketing plan, and all other things being equal, the company should be able to obtain at least a $50K line of credit.
Needless to say, all concerned were very pleased when the bank came through with a $75K line of credit. It was the marketing plan that convinced the bank to implement that line of credit for the business. In fact, after the line was established, the banker said to me, “You ought to be in the marketing consulting business.” I already was, but I didn’t tell him that. 😉
That’s just a small, true example concerning a small business. But you get the idea.
If you truly want to expand your business or need to obtain financing for it, you need to craft a solid marketing plan based on sound research, and implement it. Stay agile, stay flexible, but have a plan, and work that plan.
If you don’t know how to craft a realistic, effective marketing plan, you had better learn how to do it, or find someone who does know.
You can achieve your goal if:
- you are passionate about what you do,
- have the initial resources required or know how you can get them,
- have a well crafted plan as to how you will achieve your goal,
- and persist along that given course.
Are you up for it?
Written by Bob Nelson
Bob is an experienced Marketing Consultant for both online and offline marketing activities.
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