To get to the heart of the question in the title I guess we first need to agree that a marketing plan is an important small business tool.
I think it’s essential and here’s why. Creating a marketing strategy that really allows you to build marketing momentum and then surrounding that strategy with the right tactics to amplify it requires some time, energy, thinking, research and a dash of luck.
The best thing a marketing plan – or should I say it more correctly – a marketing planning process can do is force you to sit and ask yourself hard questions, questions you may not have a ready answer to, questions you never thought to think about.
The plan itself is secondary quite often, the planning process is where the headway actually gets made.
With that in mind, and back to my original question, the plan then should be simple as possible, but not too simple. (to quote Albert Einstein)
In terms of the actual document that you might use to inform and direct your annual, as well as day to day, marketing activity, a one page plan might suffice. However, getting to one page, likely will involve a process that may take several weeks or months and a draft plan of many pages and sections.
It’s a bit like carving I suppose. The finished piece will be a simple expression of a process that took a great deal of effort, but that’s how the beauty in the stone is found.
And that planning process and subsequent plan should lead you to a brilliant understanding of:
- Who makes an ideal customer for your business
- You core message of differentiation and brand
- The necessary education based marketing materials
- Your multi pronged lead generation plan
- Your non-selling lead conversion system
- Your plan to harness the Internet and technology
- Your weekly and monthly marketing calendar and budget
- Your plan to measure, adjust and update the plan.
Look for more on this in the coming months as I release a marketing planning software tool based on Duct Tape Marketing in conjunction with the great folks as Palo Alto Software.