Most of us would have come across this saying within business and in our personal lives. The planning of any activity is usually the boring bit; the part of any task we would rather avoid. However, it is fair to say that when we do plan, everything tends to run more smoothly i.e. the family holiday, the interview, the exhibition. The reason for this is that we can make sure we have all, or at least, most of the eventualities covered before we commit to the task. It reminds us to pack the suncream, answer those awkward interviews questions and make sure we remember to build in the cost of electrical sockets for our exhibition stand – all professional marketers have been there at some point in their career!
Planning your Marketing
Many of us are more familiar with the implementation side of marketing such as placing an advert, creating a website, producing a brochure and the selling process itself. If you are a marketing professional then you will no doubt realise the importance of planning your marketing activity; this is your job, you are responsible for results, therefore you are more likely to spend time creating a marketing plan for the company you are working for.
If you’re a business owner, this is only one slice of the pie when it comes to responsibility; chief cook and bottlewasher sums it up nicely. So it comes as no surprise that the planning of any marketing will take a back seat. The urgency of drumming up business will lead you to jump straight into the hands-on side of marketing and who can blame you.
Who, What, When, Where, Why?
Doing marketing is more popular than planning marketing and it’s easy to see why. However, without a clear plan in place, how do we fully understand who we are targeting, what we are providing, when and where to communicate our offering and why consumers and businesses would want to buy our product or service?
By going straight to the implementation of marketing, we are assuming we know who our customer is, what they want, where they want to buy it and how they want to hear about it. Would you set up a business without a plan? Would you host a children’s party without planning; numbers, food allergies, venue?
The Elusive Marketing Plan
The marketing plan itself highlights potential positive and negative impacts on the company which may affect the way in which you go to market with your product or service. It helps you to identify what the competition are doing, how they are doing it and how you can do it better.
The plan will assist in identifying Unique Selling Points (USP) your product or service has and how this can help you to stand out from the crowd.
Planning will help to address any issues you may have in delivering value to the customer i.e. resources, logistics and identify solutions. You will be able to examine the markets you are targeting and make sure they are the right customers for you.
Once all this has been addressed, you will then be able to compile your strategy which includes products, pricing, distribution, promotion, processes, people and physical environment. Only at this point will you be confident that the marketing tools you are going to use will be right for the task in hand.
Benefits of Planning
There are obvious benefits to compiling a marketing plan. Regardless of whether you are a marketing professional or business owner, you will no doubt have very little time, energy and budget and will want to focus all these resources on achieving results. A marketing plan will ensure you are putting all of your resources into targeting the right people, with the right product/service, using the right marketing tools for the job. In the long-term, you will reap the benefits of all your hard work and be confident your marketing activity is making a positive impact on your companies’ bottom line.