The simple answer is, absolutely Yes!!!!!!!!! Why? Because in today’s extremely competitive world, it has become even more vital to take steps in an effort to differentiate your business from your competition, and these strategies start with the development of an effective marketing plan. While it may seem like a monumental task to develop a marketing plan for your business, consider this harsh reality: not doing so could mean catastrophic failure for your business. Devoting time and energy to setting up your company’s marketing plan will obviously take some effort, but it can literally mean the difference between success and failure for your company both in the short-term as well as the long-term. The plan doesn’t have to be incredible detailed, by taking the time to develop a simple and actionable marketing plan, your company will have a clearly defined direction, which will set you apart from your competitors and will establish the solid foundation required for a successful business.
Developing an effective marketing plan can be a challenge – and it will take time. The vast majority of small business owners work long hours with minimal free time, and it is imperative that their time is spent on activities crucial to fostering the continued development and success of the business. While it can be easy to dismiss the importance of a marketing plan and instead spend time on day to day matters, this method of thinking can be short-sighted and self-defeating and can limit (or even eliminate) long-term success. It is crucial for the overall success of the business to allow for the development and implementation of a marketing plan, because without one, it will become impossible to attain the long-term results your company is looking for. Think of it this way, creating an marketing plan when your competition does not, sets you apart and gives you the edge to win the business.
A marketing plan is actually far easier to create than you may realize. It is best to reverse engineer it, begin with the end in mind, so, where do you want to be in 3 or 5 years and work backwards. Here are a few hacks to consider when beginning the process of creating a marketing plan for your business:
- How does your business differ from the competition? In other words, what are the strengths of your business? What are the clearly defined products and/or services your company offers, and why should a customer choose your products or services over those of the competition?
- Who is your target consumer? It is important to be as detailed as possible about your targeted customers, because your entire marketing and advertising strategy will be built around these characteristics and will explore the most effective methods of reaching this target market. A detailed understanding of your end user is imperative to the success of your business both in the short-term as well as the long-term.
- How will your target market become – and stay – aware of your product or service? What steps are you taking to create and strengthen your company branding? What marketing channels will be the most effective ways of reaching your target market? In answering these questions, you should take into consideration factors such as ROI, consumer behaviour patterns, technology, changing industry trends, and so on.
- What are your short-term business objectives? What are your long-term objectives? It is difficult to have a defined direction without clearly stated goals combined with an action plan on how you expect to accomplish these goals. The more detail, the better.
And, of course, the marketing plan should include detailed financial considerations, which include establishing your overall marketing budget. Many businesses are unsure of how much financial resources to dedicate to their marketing budget, which is understandable. The amount your business should spend on marketing varies according to industry, but typically should be based on a percentage of your overall revenue (or projected revenue). The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends spending between 7 and 8 percent of your gross revenue on marketing and advertising if your business makes less than $5 million in sales and your net profit margin – after all expenses – is in the 10 to 12 percent range. That being said, different industries range from 2 to 3 percent (for an ophthalmology practice, for example) to upwards of 30 percent (for a personal injury law firm). If you want to increase revenue for your next fiscal year, you need to increase your marketing budget accordingly – in this case, you would base your marketing budget off projected revenues.
Are you ready to make the leap into creating a marketing plan? If your not sure what to do next, contact me at [email protected] and I’ll provide some assistance.