As stated previously in this blog, Wikipedia defines a marketing plan as a “written document that details the actions necessary to achieve one or more marketing objectives.”
If you follow the standard layout for a Marketing Plan it must:
- Describe and explain the current situation
- Specify the expected results (objectives)
- Identify the resources that will be needed (including financing, time, and skills)
- Describe the actions that will need to be taken to achieve the objective(s)
- Devise a method of monitoring results and adjusting the plan where necessary
And this is probably why so many people start a business without a marketing plan. In the absence of a formal marketing plan anyone in a faltering business or thinking of starting a business has to be realistic about their prospects. Here are a few hard questions you need to answer if you are starting a business or want to improve your business. Think of it as an acid test for success:
- Does this plan make good business sense to anyone other than my family and friends?
- Do we know where we are spending our time and money?
- Is there enough information to prove to a banker or investor we are uniquely qualified to start this business?
- Is our plan made up of useful and relevant information or are the pages fleshed out with filler and unrelated information?
- What are our revenue goals by day, week, and month?
- What is the realistic time frame to achieve our revenue goals?
- What is Plan B if our business is growing slower than we planned?
- How much money will we need each month for our marketing?
- Do we have enough money to pay all the bills until we are in positive cash flow?
- Is our marketing and sales process the right one for this business or service or is it the one we know best?
- Where will our first customers come from?
- How will we keep them coming back?
- Is there any low hanging fruit that we should “pick” for fast results?
- How will we know when our marketing and sales strategies need modifying or improving?
- How much do we need to invest to reach or exceed our expected results?
- Why have other companies failed doing the same thing in the past?
- What are our competitors doing?
- What specific strategies will we use lead generation? For client retention? etc
- How do the strategies in our marketing mix each contribute to us reaching our revenue goals?
- What implementation pitfalls must we avoid?
- How do we measure the effectiveness of our marketing and sales?
- How will we measure and improve results continuously over time?
- If we are successful do we have the infrastructure to to deliver the results we promise?
- If we don’t start this business what will our potential customers do to get what we are planning to do?
- Are we doing everything we can do to make this business a success?
- What’s missing?
While this is not the most comprehensive list ever published I wish I had followed my own advice a few failed ventures ago. If you need help determining of your marketing plan is viable I am only a phone call or email away.