Let us start off by saying we love marketing. There is nothing like the rush of helping business owners and management communicate in such a way as to elicit a desired reaction from the target audience. It’s a great feeling to know you’re helping people hit their targets.
There is another part of marketing that we love. It’s helping business owners and stakeholders understand what marketing will work for them, and what marketing won’t. You see, all tactics are not for all businesses at all times. And how we decide which marketing efforts to recommend depends on your industry, business and specific business and personal goals.
The business plan – it’s not just for banks
Here’s the problem. There is a vast amount of business owners who haven’t taken the time to understand these elements. They don’t have a business plan. Because they don’t have a plan, the marketing efforts tend to be random and scattered.
Let’s take apart a business plan for a moment. It’s made up of:
- Revenue goals
- Market intelligence
- Competitive information
- SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)
- Description and pricing model for your offerings
- An acquisition strategy
- A retention strategy
- The budget needed to stay competitive, innovate, acquire and retain
Not sure what you’re doing with your marketing? A business plan can help.
The business plan is an explanation typically to banks that details why your business needs and deserves funding. But it’s so much more than that. A business plan helps you figure out:
How many people are realistically in my market? What percentage of these people will make up sales in the upcoming year (or three or five)? How will I reach these people? Why will they want to choose my offerings? How much money can I charge? What could hamper my success?
Knowing the answers in your head or gut is not enough. It’s just not solidified, and it doesn’t provide enough of a framework for you to build a successful business. It’s like have a picture of a house in your head vs. having an architect and construction crew tell you what’s needed, materials and money, to have it built.
There’s a lot more detail that goes into the design and construction – details that are best handled by professionals; otherwise, you tend to run into issues…expensive issues.
Failed to plan? Then plan to fail.
A plan will help you know when to say yes and when to say no to suggestions and change. It keeps you focused on your targets – both financial and audience-wise. It helps you separate great ideas from the right ideas. Not convinced? Here are just a few examples of the pain points experienced by business owners who did not have a business plan:
- Targeting the wrong audience. How many times have you changed who you’re targeting to entirely different groups? Re-writing website copy and collateral over and over is time-consuming and expensive.
- No product strategy. Have you every launched or changed offerings without any data or experience to justify the move? The wrong moves rack up expenses, with no additional sales.
- Using the wrong communication channels. Did you choose your channels based on your target market’s preferences, or are you using a collection of channels that friends and colleagues swear worked for them? Are they working for you?
- Getting caught up in the brand. Your business brand is not something that should be changed every year because you now prefer different colors, or saw a cool logo on a package you received. It’s not a fashion statement. It’s a visual representation of who you are, what you do and your promise (benefit) to your target audience.
- Falling for the lure of immediate results. There is a reason banks want a 3 or 5-year plan – it’s because you don’t get results overnight. Any marketing agency promising you results after one launch, one campaign or one press release is blowing smoke in your eyes and up other body parts. Building brand awareness, and a loyal following at the right price point take time. It will not happen on your first effort.
These failings can be pricey. We’ve seen business owners and management hop from vendor to vendor, trying campaign after campaign to get that immediate result, and after a ton of time, energy and expense are no better off than when they started.
Take the time and find a strategist. A good business consultant that can help you put together a solid business plan. Do this before making any significant investments in a marketing agency or partner. While there is typically a significant upfront cost, in the long run, it could save you thousands.