Business people often categorize themselves as ‘doers,’ with great implied disdain for those who take time to carefully plan out their actions before rolling up their sleeves and diving in. Sometimes the entrepreneurial spirit fosters this mentality – “If I don’t put this in play immediately, I’ll miss my opportunity”…“I have too many ideas and not enough time to vet them all thoroughly, so I’m going for it.” And marketers are notorious for it – “Let’s get this idea out there and see if we can get some traction – we can tweak things later.”
If you see yourself as a doer, let me ask you this: Would you hop in your car and start a lengthy cross-country trek with no destination, map, route, or time frame in mind? I’m assuming your answer is a firm “no” (unless you’re the free spirit type and have unlimited time on your hands…which I’m guessing is not the case). While most people wouldn’t hesitate to spend time planning for a big trip, it surprises me how many overlook planning for things that have big effects on meeting their business goals. The fact is that successful business people recognize they have to be both “planners” and “doers.”
So in terms of marketing efforts, what exactly does being a planner mean? For one, it means getting a written plan down on paper. A strategic marketing plan should serve as a component of an overall business plan and must address business development objectives. It’s an important tool that is often overlooked by business owners, executives, and, yes, even marketing professionals. It can take many forms but should meet some fundamental requirements, including:
- Establishing objectives and goals
- Defining audiences
- Creating strategies and tactics
- Setting priorities
- Establishing how success will be measured
(I’ll be examining each of these plan elements in more detail in future blog posts, so be on the lookout if you’d like to delve deeper.)
A marketing plan should act like a funnel, capturing big picture objectives and crunching them down into actionable tactics. When our team develops a comprehensive marketing plan, we typically take it a step further by selectively generating creative ideas related to certain tactics to begin building upon the framework. This process often results in concepts that wind up being used in application.
Often a mini-plan or action plan dedicated to a specific marketing challenge is appropriate (think smaller funnel). These work best when they ladder up to a master strategic marketing plan, which will expose any conflicts that may exist and allow for adjustment on the front end. Most plans should be written with one year in mind, although larger organizations with more moving parts may choose to look out 2-4 years.
In its simplest form, a marketing plan should provide a framework for action. That’s what allows you to move into doer mode. I’m not suggesting you can’t market your business without a plan. I do, however, stand by the fact that you will be more effective with it and that marketing planning is just as critical in good times as bad. So are you a doer or a planner? Embrace both to be truly successful!
Developing a marketing strategy is one of the many capabilities Reuben Rink provides as a full-service agency. Contact us today to explore how we can help your business develop a thorough marketing plan!