Marketing Plan: Why All Small Businesses Need A Solid Plan!

“Good plans shape good decisions. That’s why good planning helps to make elusive dreams come true.”Lester R. Bittel

Recently, I offered a marketing plan review as a door prize for a local business group. When I approached the winner to exchange information, she whispered that she didn’t have a written one; she had it stored in her head. She then asked it a marketing plan was even necessary.

Should Your Small Business Have A Marketing Plan?

Absolutely! In fact, as a small business consultant, I’ve encountered numerous clients who repeatedly make the same mistake… failing to have a plan ‘business or marketing’ in place.

In a recent survey, I asked 200 respondents, ‘of the many issues facing their businesses, what common road blocks hindered their business growth.’ An overwhelming 32% said ‘No Marketing Plan’ was a potential reason for lack of sales and growth.

Why Marketing Plan?

Well, a marketing plan is a road map that details a route you should take to successfully promote and expand your business. It is critical to the success of a business, in fact, to all businesses! If a small business wants to achieve its potential, a marketing plan must be implemented!

Marketing is more than just ordering business cards or creating a flyer, it’s how you communicate with your current and potential clients. It is important to get your name out in the business community and differentiate your products and services from that of your competitor. If you don’t market your products or services, how will people know that you are a serious business owner or worse, in business? With a marketing plan, you will have a game plan in place.

A marketing plan is an integral and valuable tool for determining success of your business and the overall direction that your product or service should be taking. It should:

  • Clarify the impact and results of past marketing decisions.
  • Elucidate the external market that a company is competing.
  • Include deadlines for meeting those targets.
  • Prepare a budget for all marketing activities.
  • Set objectives and provide path for future marketing efforts.
  • Require accountability and measures for all activities.

6 Key Components of a Marketing Plan

Market Research

Gather information about your target market to include competition, business and industry environment.

When researching, answer the following questions:

  1. Who are your customers?
  2. What do they want or need?
  3. What is important to them?
  4. Who are your competitors? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  5. What is your businesses environment, locally, regionally, and nationally?
  6. Is your industry doing well?

Target Market

Potential customers who have issues that or problems which your products or services can fulfill. Generally, people in this segment possess common characteristics and a relatively high tendency to purchase a particular product or service. Included in a target market are demographic, geographic and psychographic characteristics.

Executive Summary

A brief summary which includes the main points of the plan; generally shared with people you approach with your plan, such as investors or lenders who may want to read a synthesized version to determine if they are interested in it before taking the time to read it in depth.

Situation Analysis

The evaluation of operations to determine the reasons for the gap between what was or is expected, and what has happened or will happen.

SWOT Analysis

A formal outline to identify and frame a company’s’ growth opportunities; SWOT is an acronym for an organization’s internal Strengths and Weaknesses and external Opportunities and Threats.

Marketing Strategy

A process that allows a company’s to concentrate its limited resources on the greatest opportunities to increase sales and achieve a sustainable competitive advantage.

Budget

Estimates tied to specific allocation of revenues. A budget is required to have a successful marketing plan.

  • Yearly marketing budget
  • Expected return after investment
  • Breakdown of expected expenditures

In conclusion, as you can see, a marketing plan serves as your roadmap. It is critical for the success of your business. If writing a marketing plan seems a little intimidating, click here for FREE tools to help you.

Why Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs Really Need A Solid Marketing Plan?

When I ask entrepreneurs and small business owners, it is not unusual for not having any marketing plan. I once read that Sir Richard Branson never had any marketing plan when he started the 1st Virgin business many years ago. In fact in one study of entrepreneurship (I couldn’t recall the name of the study) was that as much as 50% of entrepreneurs and business owners don’t have a business plan and marketing plan when they first started the business.

What was the outcome? As much as 90% businesses started by entrepreneurs and small business went busted or failed within a year. I experienced one of the many busts few years ago (with my cafe business) because i don’t really have a proper and “the few solid sheets” called a marketing plan.

Coming back to my questions to entrepreneurs and small business owners, many of their answers sounded like this, “I don’t really have one”, “It’s in my head coz I know the business so well” and worse, “I don’t know what is marketing plan”! If you happen to be in one of these categories, rest assured you are not the only one. And to perfectly honest, that’s the ultimate reason why I turned back to my writing board where I was actually in the middle of writing (rather perfecting!) a personal development programs. I dropped that program and quickly drafted and started Marketing Plan Breakthrough S6PEC because many of you need it, seriously.

But, I don’t specifically mean my own Marketing Plan S6PEC Framework because there are so many versions and gurus out there that can give you the benefit of marketing plan. Of course I am going to say mine is a lot better because it’s a practical and practitioner’s guide. Other than being a consultant, I also have performed marketing manager role, entrepreneur role, business manager role, investor and student of entrepreneurship (during my MBA!). But that’s not my main point. My main point is for you to have a marketing plan to guide your business. Which one? Well it is up to you!

So, to put things in perspective; why do you really need a marketing plan?

Guide
– in a marketing you will think, record and document all your ideas, products and services offering, price, distribution channel, programs, sales direction, customer segment and so on. I have experienced whereby I suddenly realized that my business is not going on the right direction because I didn’t follow my marketing plan. Have you experienced that? Or perhaps you suddenly realized that the thing you do know supposed to be done many months ago because you forgot about it? And you forgot because you don’t jot it down and plan for it? This is what I mean that marketing plan as a guide. I cover this in my Marketing Plan Breakthrough S6PEC.

Ideas
– people said the more you talk about your ideas the more refine it becomes. I think this is true. Did you ever experience when you talk to more people you generated a lot more ideas? When people give you feedback it triggers another dimension of your ideas? If you are, so where do you keep all these ideas? It should be in a marketing plan.

Resource Plan
– in marketing, there is only one thing that’s scarce: RESOURCES. Some people have a lot of money but lacked ideas and another group is the other extreme; more ideas and less money. Many of us probably the later than the former! In the marketing plan we will tackle things like people to hire, pricing, distribution plan, sales programs budget and so on.

Strategy
– similar to business strategy, marketing plan will capture strategies required to support your business strategy. For example if your business goal is to achieve 20% increase in sales, your marketing strategy would be to 1) introduce new product, 2) increase price for premium offerings, 3) recruit more distributors and offer commission scheme and so on. Strategy is king. When you can see your business in totality, I can assure you that you will find it easier to manoeuvre. Marketing plan is the place to address all these issues.

Risk
– in our marketing plan we shouldn’t only concern about making money or positive points, we also should address the risk we are taking. for example it is common for a marketing plan to capture things like, “require additional staff to handle sales call”, “additional investment from the management budget will increase chances of increasing 10% sales target” and many more. Imagine if you can factor your risk earlier and think through it, wouldn’t it be better for you?

Pricing
– I once said in my Marketing Plan Breakthrough S6PEC that, “Price is the key determinants of your profits”. I stand firm to keep it that way. In your marketing plan, you will address pricing plan for your distributors, customers, multiple segments (some business charge differently – price discrimination) and cost price i.e. your raw materials and things like that. Not many address price correctly and bear in my mind that we need to standby few pricing plan to respond to the market. Take for example during festive season, if everyone is lowering price and slashed their price or even ignited a price war, what do you do about that? Follow suit or wait? If you want to follow, how far? If you want to wait, how long? You capture all this in pricing plan.

Customer Segment
– this is talked about most of the time, but let’s accept the fact that today’s customers are fragmented to smaller niches. Your product and service will not be consumed by only one segment and at critical mass. it is likely to be consumed by smaller segment and multi. No more critical mass, but rather a solid spread of niches. For example, who buys iPod’s today? If Apple only think about yuppies they are making a big mistake because apparently iPod is also used by women and people with active lifestyle. Another example, who buys from hypermarket? If hypermarket only focuses on households they may not survive or be successful like today. Hypermarket main segment is actually small business restaurant operators that buy in larger quantity compare to households and on daily basis. I’ve been there, I know! LOL

Corrective Plan
– a marketing plan is a living document. Trust me, the moment you have it and experience planning your marketing, you will realize this. Therefore it is a plan that allows you to assess past strategies and results and at the same time allow you to make necessary corrective measures to fit your business growth. for example, who expected the 2008 financial crisis to hit us so badly? No one other than the few so called “economists” but how did responded to it? Severely. Many businesses closed including many giants. But the good thing is, many have a solid marketing and business plans, therefore they make quick corrective actions and moved forward.

Innovation
– I once sat in a meeting of project and business updates and suddenly one of the directors said, actually with all that we have now we can be in the medical device market. Violaaa!!! This medical device company used to service government hospitals and they have all the equipments. It’s just that they never thought of going direct to the hospitals and take the lion share of the business. In that meeting, after going through the company yearly updates, this “innovation” came instantaneously and the next year they are pitching about it to the government hospitals directly.

Imagine if you can do all these and manage all these in a marketing plan? Systematic, organized, well thought, innovative and captured all your pertinent business information, don’t you find having a marketing plan is useful for your business?

One thing about my business, I don’t sell templates. I only sell REAL content. I believe that template is only to give you the general overview of direction but not how-to do it. That’s why I highly not recommended you choose to download or purchase marketing templates because I have seen them i personally think it won’t help you much. Let me share you a recent story about template.

I have childhood friend who wanted to open a small business. I offered him my service at $$$ which is so much below market rate because we have been friends for 20 years. He said no, because he thinks there is another cheaper way to do it or in other words “resourceful is my middle name” kinda thing. So I let him do that. I offered him five days later that, if he needs me to view the marketing plan I will do it for free over tea. He showed me a marketing template he bought for USD 25 and all he got was a template!!! I scolded him and cursed the site that provided such thing. It was just boxes everywhere and not even a paragraph on how to fill those boxes. Well, this is what I mean and I defy being in that business because that’s cheating. By the way i got to do my friend’s job after that.:)

What I offered is much simpler, richer and with all the things you need. Firstly, my blog is to help you enhance and as a source to guide you on the marketing plan you purchase. Well, let’s don’t talk about purchase yet.

Would you want to view the actual content or maybe download the Marketing Plan Breakthrough S6PEC Introduction first? Please send your inquiry to [email protected] Information is FREE. Otherwise please go to http://www.marketingplanbook.com