People are in such a hurry to launch their product or business that they seldom look at marketing from a bird's eye view and they don't create a systematic plan.
~Dave Ramsey, Financial author, radio host, television personality and motivational speaker.
Marketing automation starts with "the plan".
If you want to drive to Miami from Toronto in 3 days, then you should have a plan to guide your journey to ensure on-time and safe passage. The same goes for marketing. While there are several elements to a marketing plan, there are 5 key areas that should be defined if you want to be able to measure success.
Goals - what do you want to accomplish this year? In 5 years?
Audience - exactly who is the best prospect to target for your products and services?
Budget - how much money have you set aside for marketing to grow your business?
Tactics - what are the most efficient marketing options to hit your goals with your target audience within budget?
Schedule - how will all these tactics play together in communicating to your audience?
While you can market without a plan—just as you can travel without a mapped journey—it may take much longer, and generate higher expenses, to reach your target. If you have time to waste and money to burn, no biggie, right? Otherwise, you need a plan that outlines exactly how and when you will expect to hit your growth targets.