There was a time, not all that long ago, when people didn’t use the internet for marketing purposes; instead, they relied on traditional advertising media such as direct mail, radio, television, billboards, magazines and newspapers. While computers have changed the marketing world, one thing that hasn’t changed is the need for strategic marketing planning.
Some beginning marketers make the mistake of thinking that the use of free advertising negates the need for a marketing plan. To be blunt, this is wrong! There may be very little up-front monetary expense associated with some types of internet advertising, but not having a plan can end up costing you more money than you save. Without a plan you are putting your business at risk and may be setting it up for failure.
If you don’t have a plan, then you don’t have any way of knowing how well you’re doing. Of course you can still achieve some success without a plan, but relying on sheer, dumb luck is a lousy way to do business, and it’s never sustainable. Just as a better map helps you to reach your destination, so too will a better plan help you to reach your business goals.
A strategic marketing plan should cover all aspects of your marketing strategy, and should also show how each piece relates to one another. Some of the things you need to consider are who your market is, how you will get people to your location, online and offline marketing efforts, what methods of advertising you will use, what your overall marketing message is, how you will deal with the press, how much your budget is, what your goals are, what will be measured, and what will happen as you achieve your goals. All of those things are just the start, but they give you some idea of what goes into making a good marketing plan.
As you can see, a strategic marketing plan can be quite involved, but don’t let that scare you away from crafting a plan of your own. A marketing plan is there to help you get the most out of your business, so it’s okay to change it if you have to. You should do your best to create a good plan when starting out, but there will often be unforeseen circumstances that will cause you to rethink certain portions of your plan. Changes shouldn’t be made lightly, but remember that the plan is there to serve you, not the other way around.
If you have difficulty putting a plan together then you can hire the services of a planner to help you create a plan that is customized to your needs. A professional planner may not be cheap, but they will be able to offer insights that you may otherwise overlook.
Whichever way you choose to go about it, strategic marketing planning will help you to be as successful as possible. Remember, you are in business and you need to take that seriously. Creating a plan takes time, but it will save time in the long run, and will also increase your profits.