Depending upon who you ask a marketing plan is either a necessary evil or tremendous waste of time. – That’s such a shame, but I think I’ve finally come to understand why this is.
A well crafted marketing plan should be one of the most important strategic steps a business takes, but there’s a disconnect. Marketing plans get created, but never used because, once put to paper or ether, they don’t easily relate to the real life experience of a business. They get created but never installed.
- At a minimum your marketing plan should include:
- a description of your ideal customer
- your core message (vs competitors)
- your key marketing strategy
- your communications tools
- your lead generation plan (advertising, public relations, referral)
- your web plan (yes, with a blog)
- your lead conversion plan
- your customer loyalty plan
- your marketing calendar
- your marketing budget
- your key strategic indicators
- scads of sales, revenue and profit projections
Now, the creation of the above is a great start and a beneficial exercise for any business, new or existing, but here’s what’s needed to truly make your marketing plan work.
Your marketing must have a life and the only way it can do that is if you throw it into the middle of your day to day business. As a document it’s a fantasy and it stops breathing the minute you open the door each day. A truly effective marketing plan must integrate into the reality of the stuff you do each day.
Here’s how the perfect marketing plan would work.
You create the plan as prescribed above, you bake the appropriate elements of your plan into your CRM system, you tie the plan to your actual sales, you flow the plan projections into your bookkeeping software and you circulate actual results through your key indicators, automatically updating your projections. Now that would make a living, breathing powerhouse of a marketing plan and, now, your marketing plan would actually run your business. (As it should be)
I’m not sure the specific software to do what I’ve described actually exists today, but I’m betting a web application bringing together current offerings from some of the smart folks at a Palo Alto Software, Microsoft, SAP, NetBooks, Intuit, Sage, Zoho or NetSuite couldn’t be that hard to hack together.
I know there are plenty of BigCos and VARs out there that have created something like this for the enterprise market, but what about one for the real small business (2-50 employees)?