What happens when you go to the grocery store without a list? You typically end up buying a bunch of stuff you don’t really need, spending more money than you planned, and come home to realize you forgot quite a few things. Then you have to go back again to get everything right. This is the same scenario you will face when you don’t sit down and write a marketing plan. It may seem like a waste of time, when all you want to do is jump in and get started, but actually sitting down and writing a marketing plan will save you time, money, and frustration in the long run. Here is what a marketing plan can do for your business:
Help you Focus on a Target Market
Without a marketing plan, it’s easy to get caught up marketing to everyone instead of a specific target audience. When you sit down and write a marketing plan, you think about who has a need for your product or service. You look at demographics such as age, gender, location, and education. When you narrow down your target market, you’ll be able to focus all your marketing dollars on an audience who actually has a need for your product or service, and stop wasting money marketing to an audience who has no interest.
Help you Spend Your Money More Efficiently
How do you know how much money you will allot to your marketing efforts, or determine if you are over or under-spending? Generally, around 10% of sales should be spent on marketing. Once you figure out this number and actually get it written in your plan, you will easily see how much you will be able to spend of each marketing strategy, and keep yourself from going over-budget.
Help You Focus on Specific Goals
Are you trying to get more sales? More leads? Increase brand awareness? Without a marketing plan, you don’t have a specific goal to work towards. All of your marketing efforts are going to help you work towards your goal, but if you don’t have a concrete goal written down ahead of time, you may find yourself getting off track in your marketing efforts.
Help You Monitor Your Competition
You know your business is going to have competition, but do you know how you compare to them? With a marketing plan, you take the time to find out exactly how you stack-up against the competition in terms of price, products offered, marketing strategies, etc. When you are able to see a side-by-side comparison, it will help you know what you need to do to gain the competitive edge.
Focus Your Marketing Strategies
Are you going to run a newspaper ad, or send out marketing emails, or focus on social media? There are tons of choices when it comes to marketing strategies, and you can’t do them all. If you have taken the time to define your goals and target audience in a marketing plan, you can decide what strategies will work best to achieve those goals.
Creating a marketing plan requires some effort on your part. You have to do quite a bit of research and planning ahead of time, and it is an ongoing process that will change as your business grows. But a well-written marketing plan is like a map, leading you the direction you want to go and preventing you from getting lost along the way. Take the time to write a detailed marketing plan now and your business will definitely reap the benefits down the road.