To be successful in marketing you must start with a plan. For example, social media is part of your marketing efforts and would require a strategy that would be included in your overall marketing plan. We all know plans cannot be perfect. How could you possibly account for everything that is going happen in the next 12 months? If you don't plan, you're doomed, and an inaccurate plan is much better than no plan. When drafting your marketing plan keep the following in mind:
- The size of your marketing plan will vary depending on the size and goals of your company. No matter its size, you should refer to it monthly to track success as you make your way through the plan.
- Most marketing plans cover the strategy for the upcoming year. Midway through the year, once you have a better idea of what is or is not working, you should work on a marketing plan that focuses on goals for the next 2-3.
- Deciding what to do, how to do it, and who should do it will take a few months.
- Once the plan is complete, every department in your company should review it. Most companies like to keep their marketing plans as private as possible because they are filled with valuable information. However, you can't properly execute a marketing plan without getting your team involved.
- For your marketing plan to work well, all aspects of your company need to be fully understood. The best way to understand a department is to get feedback from the people most familiar with it. Your key people can provide realistic input on what goals are achievable and how to accomplish them. They will also be able to provide marketing opportunities you may not have realized were possible.
- Make sure your marketing plan lines up with your business plan or vision statement. Your business plan encompasses more than marketing, but it will help to guide your overall marketing goals and how you will get there.
Now that you know the basics of what goes into a marketing plan let's review the benefits that it will provide:
- Step-by-Step Instructions: Your furniture comes with an instruction manual and is much simpler to put together and maintain than your business. Your marketing plan offers a step-by-step guide to accomplish your goals. Consider it a to-do list for the year.
- Guide to Consistency: You don't allow your accounting department to keep their numbers in their heads. Your financial books are vital to your business. Your marketing plan is no different. If your ideas are written out, then you can refer to them when reviewing your year. The information in your marketing plan is there to keep everyone on the same page.
- Time for Reflection: Your day-to-day is filled with sales calls, emails, etc. All those daily tasks can make it hard to focus on the big picture. Each month when you sit down to review your marketing plan and track your goals, you will be reflecting on and improving upon your long-term business goals.
The effort it takes to create a marketing plan is worth the benefits it creates for you and your company. Even if it is a very rough draft, get started on your marketing plan as soon as possible!