Friday, September 25, 2015

A marketing plan is useless, but planning is priceless

By David Ronald

In my experience, small businesses owners often overlook the importance of adopting a strategic approach to marketing—with dire consequences. CB Insights, a venture capital database, parsed more than 100 post-mortem essays by startup founders to pinpoint the causes they believe their businesses failed and found that poor marketing ranked eighth out of 20 (you may be surprised by the reasons that scored lower than marketing in the graph below).

(Click here to read the full article in Fortune magazine:

Good marketing helps buyers understand how you will help them be successful and why your product or service is better than what they can obtain from competitors. An effective marketing plan can help you reach your target audience, boost your customer base and grow revenues. It also helps you set clear, realistic and measurable objectives for your business.

A plan is useless, but planning is priceless, to paraphrase Winston Churchill. Developing a marketing plan is priceless because it sharpens your awareness of what makes your business unique and how to evangelize it effectively. And it will benefit your business if this planning process is repeated at least a couple of times a year—a marketing plan is not a document that you create once and store in your bottom drawer.

The plan should cover one year. For small business, this is often the best way to think about marketing. Later on you can create a section of the plan that addresses the medium-term future (ie, two to four years down the road), but the bulk of your plan should focus on the coming year.

Anticipate taking about two months to develop your marketing plan. Try to involve many people in the planning process. At a minimum, get feedback from all parts of your company—this is especially important because it will take all aspects of your company to make your marketing plan work. Don’t worry, though, because creating a great marketing plan doesn’t require a monumental effort and the process can be enjoyable.

And it will be worth it.

Thanks for reading.

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