Does your business have a marketing plan?

Why do so many SMEs not have marketing plans? I am exposed on a daily basis to companies doing marketing in a haphazard way. I recently heard of a hotel group wanting to run three different promotions on their website – all at the same time.

Obviously there are two ways of doing marketing:

  1. You go through your financial year and as you realize you need to quickly MAKE-UP revenue, you roll out a promotional campaign. This is not marketing.
  2. You start your financial year with a view as to how you want to GROW revenue, and based on this you  roll out a campaign. This is marketing.
Plan 1 is reactive, tactical and usually happens in a desperate effort to play catch-up to rapidly falling revenue.
Plan 2 is proactive, well planned and aimed at making more profit than last year.
Too few small and medium sized businesses adopt the 2nd option. They are stuck in reactive “marketing”. The problem with this is that your marketing budget is spend on once off knee-jerk promotions instead of well planned campaigns.
With this in mind, I suggest a very basic approach to building a marketing plan at the start of your year:
  1. Who is your customer?
  2. What do you want to tell them?
  3. When do you want to tell them this?
  4. How do you want to tell them this?
  5. What is the budget to tell them this?
Answers to these 5 questions early in your new financial year will allow you to build a basic marketing plan.
There will always be a need for spur-of-the-moment tactical stuff, but this should never be more than 20% of your marketing activity. 80% should be planned, well in advance.