I meet so many small business owners who tell me they don’t have a marketing plan in place. They know how valuable marketing is in general, and they put some marketing efforts out there, but inevitably they feel like they really need to spend all their time on operations and sales.
These business owners aren’t sure they have time to develop an effective marketing plan when they can barely find the time to put together a quick flyer when they need one.
I totally understand how the day-to-day activities involved in running a business can make you wish there were more hours in a day. The irony is you can actually save time with a marketing plan in place, because you are operating more proactively rather than always running around in reactive mode. Mapping out a plan also means you can more easily hand off the work of implementing it to somebody else.
Better time management is just one perk of a marketing plan…here are seven additional ways a marketing plan can benefit your business.
Reinforce Your Brand
Your marketing plan should strive to reinforce the brand (people’s perception of you) that you want to maintain. You don’t have much control over your brand, but you can influence it with your marketing efforts and your service. Branding is about creating a good feeling in your customer’s gut, which can only be accomplished over time with consistent efforts.
Position You in Your Marketplace
Your marketplace is a broad network of information and behaviors from your colleagues, customers, and competitors. Whether you operate globally or locally, your plan should include industry research and frequent interaction within the communities where you want to conduct business, so you become viewed as a credible expert and a reliable resource.
Heighten Awareness of Your Business
In most cases, people won’t pay close attention when they first hear about you because they don’t think they need you right then. Your marketing plan can help you take measures to ensure they know right where to find you when they’re ready to buy.
Nurture Current Customers
Even when you aren’t overtly promoting something, marketing is happening whenever you and your customers come together – in your building, on your site, in the social media realm, or when they’re viewing your collateral and ads.
A marketing plan outlines how you intend to always deliver a great experience for your customer, even when you personally aren’t there.
Attract New Prospects
How do you find and qualify leads to convert into customers? You can pinpoint in your plan exactly how you will find people who have never heard of you and those who haven’t yet realized why they need you. Then you can set up steps to move these people through from minimal awareness to an actual sale.
Prepare for Potential Growth
Are you ready to handle the increased volume when your sales and marketing efforts take off? Success is awesome – but it also comes with more work to manage and more deliverables to create. Your plan should define all the contingencies you might need to put into place at a moment’s notice.
Help to Analyze What Works
Your marketing plan should include your goals for each effort, along with how you plan to measure the progress or outcome. They say the definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior while expecting different results … please don’t go insane. Make a plan and work it!
Your Marketing Plan
There are many resources available to help you determine what to include in your marketing plan, from online articles and tutorials to marketing guide books to consultants and agencies.
Decide on how much time and money you can invest in the process – and look for support that fits the needs of your business.