Who Needs Marketing Planning?
Do your business goals require that you are communicating with others? If you answered yes, you need a marketing plan.
When a business first starts, it has a limited number of products and services. It’s easier to manage the list of marketing activities you need. As your offerings and audiences diversify, whether you have one or two products or a wide, growing variety, you’ll need to take time to map your marketing activities and intentions.
You likely have organization-wide strategic goals and objectives. I hope you do. Perhaps you even have a strategic plan in place, or you have some huge dreams for expansion. Regardless of what form these strategic objectives take, you need effective marketing activities to support them.
Marketing done without purpose is not helpful. It seems so obvious; however, it happens all the time. We don’t define the goal of our activities, or we slap on some obtuse objective like, “I wanted to promote the business.” You can do better than this. Marketing activities follow your objectives, not the other way around. If you want to grow a division of your company by 40% this year, your activities should align with that goal. If you want to increase your customer retention, your activities should support that goal too! All marketing activities should be able to answer the question, “What goal is this supporting and what do we hope to accomplish?”
In 2000, at a nonprofit church camp in Nebraska, the Marketing Director went to her boss with an idea. “We should create weekly videos of our campers and sell them to parents when they pick their children up at the end of the week.” The idea was based on solid projections, and it went well. Parents purchased more than 200 VHS tapes over the course of the summer, with gross profits of more than $3,000. However, like most small nonprofits, there wasn’t a plan for using this any further than sales. It was a huge missed opportunity. With thoughtful marketing, this could have been so much more than sales. What if they had made an extra copy for every church that came and asked them to share it Sunday? What if they had given the videos away instead of selling them, knowing that they would get shown to so many more people? In this case, the dollar signs got in the way of a higher value, and nobody asked the question, “How can this have the best possible impact on our strategic efforts beyond sales dollars?” (PSST – that marketing director was a much younger and naive me.)
When we chase marketing activity after activity, we can’t have a real sense of the total effort, the cost, or the results. These “random acts of marketing” aren’t sufficient. When we start with our strategic goals and align our marketing activities to them, we can more clearly see whether or not we are doing what it takes to have the impact we desire, what these efforts cost and how we can track our returns.
Value of a Marketing Plan
Roadmap to your goals
Your marketing plan is going to give you a strategic roadmap to reaching your goals! With the principles of marketing taught in T3 Marketing Blueprint, you are going to align specific marketing activities to your goals. When you do this, the chances of reaching those goals skyrocket!
When marketing plans are in place, you can effectively manage them, knowing they are each supporting a specific goal. Being intentional with your plan will save time for all involved. You will no longer panic at the thought of a stakeholder asking, “What are you doing to support our goal of a 20% increase in customer retention?” When you have your plan in place, you don’t have to remember every detail or create answers on the fly; you can simply refer to your plan, saving you time and stress.
Measure activity, costs, and ROI
You ought to have a good idea of how much your marketing costs and whether or not it is effective. Sometimes that is tricky, especially when we start working in people-costs (salaries, time, etc…). You will need to have some conversation about how you measure cost, so that it is consistent with all tactics. Will you include time and salary expense or will you only include billable items? Your marketing plan should have a framework for tracking efforts, costs, and ROI measures all in one place.
Build confidence from your team, investors or board of directors
When leaders are in chaos, so are teams. When leaders create a plan that is well communicated with strong buy-in, teams follow and feel confident in the work.
Paws & Pals Pet Resort shifted to the T3 Marketing Blueprint in 2018. Without a designated marketing professional managing their efforts, several subcontractors each took on their assigned roles and operated independently. The owner had the big picture in his head but never documented or thought through the plan. This practice had worked okay for several years, but the business was gearing up for a big growth spurt in the elite day care program and needed more coordinated efforts. Using the T3 Marketing Blueprint, the owner gathered all of the subcontractors in one room and together created a dynamic and powerful marketing plan. Each of the subcontractors was so thankful for the process that created a clear picture of how their function fit into the bigger picture. They were each also able to add value to the big picture because they knew the goals that the whole team was working to accomplish. With the new plan in place and the team all working together, they increased sales of their elite day care program by more than 200% over the next year!